The coronavirus is officially a pandemic and it has overshadowed quite a lot of other news. We’ve got stories on all the big news from yesterday, including the president’s speech and the NBA season getting suspended.
But that other news goes on, and it turns out I have a lot of little things to say about a lot of the tech news — from my Galaxy S20 review to the Pixel 4A rumors to a newly launched cell phone service called Yahoo Mobile.
We live an age where tech brands like Nokia, Palm, Blackberry, and Polaroid get taken out of the bin, dusted off, and given another shot. But there’s something about Yahoo Mobile that breaks my brain. I don’t know what Verizon’s strategy is, but when my days of working from home turn into weeks, I suspect I’m going to be bored enough to want some of what its managers are smoking.
We’ll see you tomorrow. Thanks again for subscribing to Processor, a newsletter about computers. Thanks also for letting me define “computers” so broadly. We’ll see you again tomorrow.
┏ Lenovo Yoga C740 review: par for the course. Monica Chin reviews a laptop that a lot of people are likely to get because it’s relatively inexpensive at $729 retail.
┏ Samsung Galaxy S20 review: just right. Here’s my review of the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus. I have heard feedback from a couple readers that 5G in their area is amazing, but I still think that it’s a bit of a shame that it’s essentially mandatory for any Android phone that uses a top or even mid-tier Qualcomm chip. I just don’t think the extra cost it imposes on the phone is worth it.
I also want to briefly note that Samsung needs to commit to more than two years of software updates for this phone. It should at least match the Pixel’s three years — but honestly both could do better. As I write this I’m looking at an iPhone SE from 2016 that’s running the latest version of iOS. All of which is today: I wish I could say the S20 will age well in three years. For $999 and up, I feel like it should.
My main point in the review is that this is a phone that a lot of people will take for granted, especially as it lands in the shadow of the somewhat disappointing Galaxy S20 Ultra. Don’t. If you want the best Android phone on the market today and price is no object, the Galaxy S20 or S20 Plus is it. Given the pace of Android releases, that could change any minute, of course.
Anyway, I’d appreciate it if you watched and shared the video. My colleague Brennan King pretty much did the whole thing himself and I think it turned out nicely.
Launches and leaks
┏ Pixel 4A leak reveals $399 starting price. I said on Twitter today that I was hoping for $299. I know that is unrealistic and even if I got my wish we’d be talking about the problem of the company that makes Android potentially taking a loss to gain marketshare — a classic monopolist move. Still, I land on thinking Google should have found a way to push the price down. We saw plenty of very inexpensive, quite good Android phones last year, well under 400 bucks.
┏ Verizon launches Yahoo Mobile phone service. I have questions. So many questions. Here are just a few:
- Verizon already owns an MVNO called Visible, now it has Yahoo Mobile. WHICH ONE WILL SURVIVE?
- Is Yahoo Mobile a division of Yahoo which is a division of Verizon Media?
- Isn’t Yahoo supposed to be about content while Verizon handles the communication stuff?
- What else can the Yahoo brand be slapped on in an attempt to squeeze the very last drops of goodwill and value it has left?
- What about, and stay with me here, Yahoo! Pro! Biotics!, a delicious yogurt that helps encourage a healthy digestive system?
- Anybody else have weirdly warm feelings about Yahoo’s OG mobile WAP services and therefore feel kind of sad that this new service kind of sullies Yahoo’s original, great mobile offerings?
- Despite all of the above, anybody else kind of charmed by the tilted Yahoo! exclamation points as signal strength bars logo?
Earlier this week, I kept on bringing up Pascal’s Wager: it’s better to slightly over-react in your preparations and precautions. Sure, you could be wrong and everything will be fine, but if so you’ll only have lost whatever time, money and dignity you spent on that prep. If you’re right, you’ll be glad you prepared.
We all will, in fact, because contending with the coronavirus is not an individual act, it’s one that helps everybody. By practicing social distancing, you’re helping society. There are going to be a lot of people who won’t have the luxury of working from home and a lot of health care workers in dire situations around the world, please do whatever you can to help them out.
┏ It’s official: WHO declares the outbreak of the new coronavirus is a pandemic.
┏ Trump bans most travel from Europe for 30 days amid coronavirus pandemic. The president’s speech last night was a colossal screw up at every level. The proposed policy does address a problem but not the major problem, which is that the virus is already here and spreading in the US. It’s not a “foreign virus,” as Trump called it. It’s a virus, and we don’t know the extent of its spread because we haven’t done enough testing in the US.
Set that aside and note that the thing the president announced wasn’t actually the policy. Our reporter Makena Kelly had to come back an hour later and change the story because what the president said on live TV about our governmental response to a literal global pandemic was factually incorrect. The White House had to correct the president. Our story has the full details of the travel ban and other proposed policies,.
We will recover from this mess and I pray we’ll band together as citizens to support each other and stave off the worst possible outcomes of this pandemic. When we do (I’m calling it a “when,” not an “if,” because I’m an optimist) though, it’ll be in spite of what happened last night instead of because of it.
┏ E3 2020 has been canceled. We’re getting to the point where a conference that isn’t cancelled will be news.
┏ E3 and GDC cancellations are forcing the gaming industry to think like Nintendo. If the headline seems weird to you, I assure you it’s not. Megan Farokmanesh talked to a bunch of people in the games industry about their announcement plans now that E3 is cancelled. To explain the headline; Nintendo famously chooses to do regular video livestreams for its game announcements in lieu of live events.
┏ Amazon restricts sales of face masks and hand sanitizer due to coronavirus price gouging. Overall I’ve been pleased with how aggressively Amazon and eBay have tackled this problem — but I wouldn’t go so far as to say impressed. We’re coming up on a real “do your part” moment and big tech has responsibilities too.
┏ How much will the novel coronavirus affect you?. Level-headed, informative Vergecast with Nicole Wetsman, Liz Lopatto, and Nilay Patel. It was recorded about a week ago and things have moved fast since then — but very little of what they discussed is out of date.
┏ How to work from home. This is good advice and from Kim Lyons. I want to emphasize the importance of work hours and dressing as though you were going to the office. Those boundaries make a huge difference. See also Natt Garun’s story about self-quarantine — which she started some time ago after a trip to Italy before we all realized how serious the coronavirus was. Another helpful tip if you use Zoom for video conferencing, here’s how to hide your messy room.
More from The Verge
┏ The EU wants to introduce a ‘right to repair’ for phones and tablets by 2021. Yesterday I wrote about how regulations could affect the details of your user experience. Here, regulation would literally affect the hardware design of your phone. I still remain conflicted about this sort of top-down decision making and its effect on potential innovation, but I do see the other side just as clearly. We make all sorts of compromises for the good of society and the future of the planet — we should make more! There are no absolutes here, but there’s a reasonable case to be made that right to repair falls within the category of reasonable restrictions for the good of all at the expense of product innovation.
┏ California won’t appeal T-Mobile-Sprint case, allowing merger to proceed. Will this offset the problems this merger will cause for the mobile industry and consumers? I obviously don’t think so, but it’s clear the merger is a done deal, so I hope more states can extract concessions like these as the battle winds down.
According to the terms of the settlement, the New T-Mobile, as the combined company is called, is now required to make low-cost mobile plans available in California for the next five years, including a $15-per-month 2GB plan and a $25-per-month 5GB plan. It must offer 100GB of no-cost high-speed internet service and a free mobile Wi-Fi hotspot device to 10 million low-income households that are currently going without access for five years
┏ Lordstown Motors wants to avoid the ‘carnage’ of other EV startups. Good interview by Sean O’Kane with CEO Steve Burns. No idea if this company will make it, but starting with the factory seems like the right way to go to me.
So that’s how we’re going to make it where others have not. Most of the others, the carnage... conventional wisdom is you build something, you get some orders, you start to say how you’re going to make this in quantity, you set a price point. And then you look at, okay, now we’ve got to build the factory. And boom, that’s where it stops. None of the carnage that has happened over 20 years, except for Tesla, nobody got to a factory. And we’re starting with a factory. So it’s really kind of cool to know there isn’t this big $2 billion raise we’ve got to do later. And that’s a great comfort.