The biggest news from the last 24 hours is undoubtedly Apple’s new services, but Sony had a thing or two worth talking about in its first State of Play live stream as well. Oh, and there’s more AirPower stuff. Heh.
Apple News: Services!
Apple announced a lot of new stuff yesterday, but despite that, it was still pretty light on details. Here’s what we know right now.
- First up is News+, the company’s buffet-style magazine and newspaper service. It’s actually really cool. And available now! [Engadget]
- Then we have Arcade, which is an interesting take on mobile gaming. You pay one (still currently-unknown) fee, and you play all the games on available on the service. I’m curious. [Ars Technica, Gizmodo]
- The TV app (not to be confused with Apple TV the product) is getting a makeover to house all of your streaming services in one place. Oh, and it’s coming to smart TVs, Roku devices, and Fire TV. That’s huge. [Apple Insider, 9to5Mac]
- Then there’s TV+ (again, not to be confused with TV the app or TV the product), the home of Apple’s new original content. There were a lot of celebrities on tap to announce this one (including Oprah herself), but pricing and availability were nowhere to be found. Cool. [Engadget]
- Apple also announced a credit card. It’s made of titanium, baked into Apple Pay at its core, and is focused on privacy. It sounds really cool and equally as over-the-top. I…kind of want one. [The Verge, Gizmodo]
- The entire event was about an hour and 50 minutes, but if you want to see the TL;DR version, MacRumors condensed that bad boy down to six action-packed minutes. [MacRumors on YouTube]
- In not-announced-yesterday-news, AirPower made another surprise appearance. This time on the AirPods 2 packaging. They’re just taunting us at this point. [9to5Mac]
- iOS 12.2, which brings support for News+ (and a bunch of other stuff) started rolling out yesterday. We have the details. [How-To Geek]
- Hidden deep in the depths of iOS 12.2, Beats’ AirPods competitor was uncovered. Does this mean Apple is going to compete with itself? [Engadget]
- In dramatically different news, Apple confirmed that it will be closing its Frisco and Plano, TX store locations. Weird, man. [9to5Mac]
The past week(ish) has been surprisingly busy for Apple; last week it announced new iPads and iMacs, as well as updated AirPods. This all lead up to yesterday’s event which was focused on the new services that have been cooking for a while now. While some are already available—like News+—others were simply given the basic “later this year” timetable.
For me, the most surprising announcement was the Apple Card. Sure, it’s been making the rounds as a rumor for several weeks now, but to actually see it and get the details is something else altogether. It makes a lot of sense that it’s essentially “made” for Apple Pay—getting more people to use the service is the name of the game, after all. Most of the perks, like two percent cash back on everyday purchases and three percent back on Apple purchases, are pretty standard and nothing to really write home about.
The real appeal of the Apple Card is privacy. For starters, the physical card has no number, no CVV code, and no expiration date. It’s made of titanium and has your name laser-etched into. It’s ultra-clean. Where you use the card, what you buy, and how much you spend won’t be tracked at all—all of the financial aspects of the card are handled on-device. Goldman Sachs, the partner bank, and MasterCard have both vowed not to sell your data to advertisers, too.
I could honestly go on about this a lot more, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll stop there. This card is fascinating, and I’m sure it will ultimately end up in the hands of many, many Apple users. Good play, Apple.
Google and Android News: Apple Music on Chromebooks?
With such a heavy focus on Apple and its new services, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most other companies were relatively quiet yesterday—that’s a space you just don’t want to compete in. Still, there have been some interesting Google/Android-related tidbits over the last 24 hours.
- The Apple Music Android app was updated with Chromebook support, which is honestly just such a weird update to me. Don’t get me wrong—it’s great!—just not something I figured Apple would ever focus on or care about. [AppleInsider]
- Along the same lines, Apple Music has been installed on 40 million Android devices. That’s a lot of devices, especially for an Apple service on Android. [AppleInsider]
- Remember the $599 Celeron-powered Pixel Slate? Well, neither does Google. It appears to be dead before it even had a chance to live. [9to5Google]
- Samsung announced the Galaxy A70, but it still has an event on April 10th to announce more Galaxy A stuff maybe? Who knows. [Samsung]
- If you’ve ever wanted the soothing voice of John Legend on your Google Home, the time is nigh. [9to5Google]
The missing cheap Pixel Slate is such a Google thing to do: announce a product, talk about the product, then never release the product. Maybe the m3 and i5/7 models were flying off the shelves at a rate that made them rethink the base model Slate. Or maybe it was just garbage all along and should’ve never been announced in the first place. The world may never know.
Everything Else: PlayStation News, Super Fast Charging from Xiaomi, and More
Sony had its first State of Play announcement yesterday, where it showed off a surprising number of PlayStation VR games. Turns out PSVR is more popular than I realized. Like, way more.
- Sony announced yesterday that it has sold a staggering 4.2 million PSVR units. That’s not shipped to manufacturers, either—we’re talking actual units strapped to people’s faces. Wild. [Gizmodo]
- And you know what else? Five Nights at Freddy’s is coming to PSVR. It seriously, legitimately looks pretty terrifying. I’d play it. [MSPowerUser]
- In less cool news, Sony is going to stop letting third-party retailers sell PS4 download codes. Weird flex, but okay. [The Verge]
- In other Sony (but not PlayStation) news, the company just announced a new action cam with a flippable screen. It’ll set you back $700, though. Ouch. [The Verge]
- In much scarier news, there was a vulnerability on ASUS computers that allowed hijackers to essentially take control of update servers and install backdoors on half a million machines. Oof. [Engadget]
- The good news is that ASUS has already fixed the issue. [Engadget]
- Xiaomi showed off a 100w fast charger that can juice a 4,000 mAh battery in just 17 minutes. And also maybe catch it on fire? [Liliputing]
- Huawei announced a pair of new phones this morning: P30 and P30 Pro. They leaked a while back, but now they’re as legit as they come. [XDA Developers]
- It also announced a set of wireless headphones that connect and charge through your phone’s UBS-C port. This seems…interesting. [Engadget]
Despite being a die-hard PlayStation guy, I’ve never seen a PSVR in person. It’s crazy to me that Sony has moved 4.2 million units, but yesterday’s State of Play definitely confirmed that the company is all-in on PSVR—at least half of the games showed in the 20-minute stream were for VR. It was surprising, but now it all makes sense.