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Quibi, Zoom, and Peloton all are struggling with video streaming during the pandemic

Quibi, Zoom, and Peloton all are struggling with video streaming during the pandemic

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The social dynamics are harder than the tech

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Illustration by Grayson Blackmon / The Verge

Today is Tuesday. Yesterday was Monday. It has gotten confusing. My colleague Chaim Gartenberg made a Twitter account that can help. Otherwise, if you live in Cleveland, just watch your local news.

The biggest news yesterday was Quibi’s launch. We have a full slate of coverage, from the stake setting to the CEO profile to reviews of the app and the shows. Quibi also went down briefly, so you know it was a real launch.

It occurs to me that a lot of tech right now involves startup companies just utterly struggling with issues related to delivering streaming video to your home rather than the encoding and bandwidth issues we used to deal with. We have different answers to all of the following video streaming questions during the pandemic: whether you want to watch it, if it’s safe to watch and be watched, and whether it’s moral to stream it in the first place.

Quibi has three months (the length of its free trial) to get you to watch “professional” video on your phone. Zoom has been in a perpetual scramble to address its myriad security issues — and I’d say it’s going only medium at best. Even Peloton couldn’t get it right, refusing to cancel live classes streamed from virtually empty rooms as an employee tested positive.

If video streaming stories are not your thing, we have reviews of actual gadgets, too, including the new Samsung Chromebook and Brydge iPad Keyboard. Oh, and the Final Fantasy VII Remake.

There’s been a lot of stuff to catch up on since the last newsletter, so I’ll just send you straight on to the links. Don’t forget: Tuesday.

Be good to each other out there.

You are reading Processor, a newsletter about computers, software, and tech by Dieter Bohn. Dieter writes about consumer tech, software, and the most important tech news of the day from The Verge. You can read an archive of Processor newsletters here and subscribe to all of The Verge’s great videos here!



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Quibi launches

┏ Can Meg Whitman outwit a pandemic with Quibi?. Elizabeth Lopatto hung out with CEO Meg Whitman literally and virtually, delivering this profile about what it’s like to launch an app you’re supposed to use on the subway or while waiting for coffee in a time when nobody is doing either of those things.

┏ Quibi is coming, with the worst — or maybe best — timing. Julia Alexander captures the problem perfectly: “Now Quibi has to compete on the couch.”

┏ Quibi app review: shifting landscape. Chris Welch reviews the app itself. I played around a little with this so-called “Turnstyle” feature and honestly all it did was stress me out. Constantly switching between portrait and landscape makes you wonder if you’re missing something in the other aspect ratio.

At launch, Quibi has delivered an app that is, in a word, fine. It works reliably, even if the user experience comes off as a little basic compared to Netflix and other streaming giants. When you rotate your device, Quibi automatically flips between landscape and portrait presentation modes, and both orientations have been factored into the creative process. You’ll notice different angles or shots when switching between them, and text / credits are also optimized for these back-and-forth changes.

┏ Quibi’s shows are fun, familiar, and a little forgettable. Here’s our review of some of the shows, too.

┏ Quibi experienced an outage on launch day. It was down for about an hour, which translates to about 6 quibis. We measure all time in quibis now, btw.

┏ How to stream Quibi.

Zoom

Did you know that “Zoom.com” is only one letter away from Zombocom? Welcome to Zombocom. The impossible is possible at Zombocom

┏ ‘Zoombombing’ is a federal offense that could result in imprisonment, prosecutors warn.

┏ Zoom adds new security and privacy measures to prevent Zoombombing.

┏ Thousands of Zoom recordings exposed because of the way Zoom names recordings.

┏ Zoom CEO responds to security and privacy concerns: “We had some missteps”. Ya think?

Peloton does the wrong thing then it does the right thing

┏ Peloton won’t stop live classes, and now an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. Shot. Natt Garun reports on Peloton making a shortsighted decision.

┏ Peloton pauses April’s live classes after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Chaser. Natt Garun reports on Peloton’s about face just days later.

Verge reviews

┏ Brydge Pro Plus review: an almost awesome iPad laptop. Sam Byford reviews the keyboard that’s just slightly ahead of its time. Hopefully Apple and Brydge can figure out a way to give it full access to gestures. Actually, hopefully Apple just publishes a spec so anybody who makes Bluetooth trackpads can get access to gestures.

┏ Final Fantasy VII Remake is a thrilling, thoughtful take on a classic. Andrew Webster has the review:

There are some new aspects that feel unnecessary, moments that serve as filler, and areas where the game can be frustratingly dated. It’s messy and beautiful, thrilling and confusing — which is to say, the remake is 100 percent Final Fantasy VII.

┏ JBL’s Quantum One delivers a VR-like audio experience, minus the immersion. Using a gyroscope in the headphones to detect head movement and adjust the sound accordingly seems like a neat idea. But unless you have a massively wide monitor, how often are you turning your head when you are gaming?

┏ Samsung Galaxy Chromebook review: beautiful to a fault. Monica Chin on what is, to me, one of the biggest bummers of tech in early 2020. We’ve been waiting for twoish years for a true successor to the Pixelbook. This looks like that because this is that, but for whatever reason Samsung and Google overdid it on the screen, which just completely trashes battery life. What an unnecessary, unforced error.

┏ Asus’ Flip C436 Chromebook with Project Athena is now available, starting at $799. Obviously we need to review this, but I’m putting it here in this section since it seems like it could be a promising alternative to the above.

Verge Deal of the day

Normally $250, the Apple AirPods Pro wireless earbuds are down to $220 at Amazon. Compared to the standard AirPods, these feature better sound quality and noise cancellation. We’ve seen these drop a bit lower in price before, but that’s a pretty rare occurrence.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy. Prices displayed are based on the MSRP at time of posting.

Phone news

┏ Apple Store leaks 4.7-inch ‘iPhone SE’ name.

┏ TCL reveals prices and specs for its 10-Series smartphones. TCL’s big push this year is for you to know that TCL exists as its own brand and not just a white label for other brands. These phones look pretty good for the price — I’m honestly less worried about the processors than I am about the cameras.

┏ Google updates Pixel 4 with ‘eyes open’ fix for face unlock. I think it’s safe to say that face unlock has not been the smash hit home run Google was hoping for with the Pixel 4. No Android phones of note have rushed to match it. Maybe nobody but Google and Apple has the chops to pull off secure face unlock?

Wear a mask, don’t believe conspiracy theories

┏ Masks may be good, but the messaging around them has been very bad. Nicole Wetsman gets to the heart of why this whole mask thing has been a problem:

The problem is that messaging from public officials hasn’t done a good job of preparing people for those changes. Instead, the pandemic response in the US has been characterized by inconsistent messaging — notably, around masks and testing — without clear signals why policies might be changing.

┏ CDC recommends people wear cloth masks to block the spread of COVID-19. I admit I went out for a couple things over the weekend — including supporting a local restaurant with curbside pickup. Both times I wore a cloth mask that we had purchased back during the terrible California fires last year. It’s remarkable how what felt a little weird on Friday became 100 percent normal on Sunday. Help normalize mask wearing!

┏ YouTube says it will suppress content promoting false 5G coronavirus conspiracy.

┏ British 5G towers are being set on fire because of coronavirus conspiracy theories.

┏ UK mobile carriers politely ask people to stop burning 5G towers. Very few conspiracy theories make any kind of logical sense, but this one in particular baffles me. 5G cannot cause coronavirus.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Not just you

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External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


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Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
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The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


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Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
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Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


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If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


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Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.