May 22, 2020

Snippet: Spotify Podcasts Are Podcasts ☍

Matt Birchler:

But at least Spielberg’s distinction at least calls Netflix films “TV movies” and doesn’t deny that they are in fact “movies”. The same can not be said for how the tech corner of the internet reacts to podcasts that are distributed via Spotify, Stitcher Premium, or any other proprietary platform. The attitiude from some is that “podcast” is reserved for audio shows that re distributed via RSS feeds that can be used in any app.

Making the defining characteristic of an art form the minutia of its technical distribution feels…off to me.

If I release a movie in theaters through a major studio, it’s a movie. If I release it on Netflix, it’s a movie. If I release it on TV, it’s a movie. If I release it on Vimeo or YouTube, it’s a movie.

If I release a book through a publisher in all book stores around the world, it’s a book. If I self-publish on Amazon, it’s a book too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this argument over the last few days and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know how I feel. The geek in me thinks that these audio programs on a proprietary format shouldn’t be called podcasts since they aren’t compatible with any open podcast player. On the other hand, Birchler’s argument is one I’ve also come to since language changes. We’re in a time when that’s become even more obvious, due to big Hollywood blockbusters being released directly to our TVs and most of my favorite TV shows being watchable on my phone from wherever.

Because of that, I can only say that a show like Joe Rogan’s that moves to a closed, exclusive platform is different (can’t even play it on an old iPod), but sure acts, looks, and feels like a podcast.

May 15, 2020

Snippet: GIPHY to Join Facebook as Part of the Instagram Team ☍

GIPHY on Medium:

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that GIPHY has been acquired by Facebook and is joining the team at Instagram. Instagram has revolutionized self-expression. More than 1 billion people use Instagram to communicate how they’re feeling and what they’re passionate about — we can’t wait to help those people become even more animated! We’ve had a lot of fun teaming up with Instagram over the years; GIPHY’s Stickers were the perfect fit for layering on Instagram Stories, while our GIF search allowed everyone to capture that perfect emotion in Instagram’s DMs. Based on the success of those collaborations (and many others) we know that there are exciting times ahead of us.

The price tag is reportedly $400 million and the acquisition makes sense, as GIPHY complements Facebook’s other properties nicely. While I’m really happy for the people at GIPHY whose hard work has led to a mega-acquisition, I can’t help but be a little sad that something fun has been gobbled up by the Facebook empire.

May 13, 2020

Snippet: Utah Rejects Apple-Google Contract Tracing ☍

Kif Leswing for CNBC (via MacRumors):

More than 45,000 people have signed up for Utah’s contact tracing app, Healthy Together, since it was released in late April, the app’s developers told CNBC. That represents about 2% of the state’s population, but could still be helpful to the state’s health department as they attempt to track and notify people who might have been exposed. […]

Utah’s governor’s office spent $2.75 million for the app and other improvements, and will pay $300,000 per month in maintenance fees, according to public records cited by Utahpolicy.com, a website focusing on local politics. […]

Utah’s approach draws a contrast with the decentralized, anonymous systems backed by Apple and Google and several countries in Europe. Those systems cannot provide information to public health departments. Instead, they send alerts directly between phones to tell people if they might have been exposed, and relies on users to contact health departments if they’ve tested positive.

The Apple-Google system makes the most sense on paper just because it can collect some data, won’t feel too creepy, and will be widespread. They’ve practically handed the resources to various officials on a silver platter with the Exposure Notification API, and with the OS updates, should cover a lot of devices out in the wild automatically. Instead, Utah is spending money on a system that they hope people will download, opt-in, and keep running in hopes of getting more data.

May 12, 2020

Snippet: Jeffrey Katzenberg Blames Pandemic for Quibi’s Rough Start ☍

Nicole Sterling for The New York Times:

Jeffrey Katzenberg hasn’t left his Beverly Hills home in nearly 50 days.

Deprived of a frenetic schedule that, before the coronavirus pandemic, typically meant three breakfast meetings, three lunch meetings and a working dinner, the veteran executive has filled his days with what he calls “Zoom-a-roo” videoconferences as he tries to rejigger Quibi, the streaming app he started with Meg Whitman a little more than a month ago.

Downloads have been anemic, despite a lineup that includes producers and stars like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, Idris Elba, Steven Spielberg and Chrissy Teigen.

I was interested in the some of the content that Quibi had promised, based on the personalities involved and the idea that it would be high-quality, short-form content. It seems cheap enough and if I can find a few things of interest, it would be worth the trouble.

Many people who downloaded Quibi had a simple question: Why can’t I watch it on TV? In response, Mr. Katzenberg and Ms. Whitman have backpedaled on their original commitment to a smartphone-only app. This week, Quibi subscribers who have iPhones will be able to watch movies-in-chapters like “Most Dangerous Game” and shows like “Chrissy’s Court” on TV screens. (Android users will have to wait a few more weeks.)

This is the reason I never even gave it a try. While I watch some video on my phone, I also have a few larger screens (iPads and TVs). I’m also in the coveted 18-34 demographic that all the media folks like, so Quibi should be perfect for me. By blocking AirPlay, not allowing HDMI out, not having a proper iPad app, and not having an Apple TV app, that feels really restrictive and has made the endeavor a non-starter for me, pandemic or not.

At this point, if you’re developing anything media-related for iOS, spend the bit of extra time and offer an iPad-capable experience and an Apple TV experience.

May 7, 2020

Snippet: Wink Switches to Subscription Service on Short Notice ☍

Wink (via Jason Snell):

In order to provide for development and continued growth, we are transitioning to a $4.99 monthly subscription, starting on May 13, 2020. This fee is designed to be as modest as possible. Your support will enable us to continue providing you with the functionality that you’ve come to rely on, and focus on accelerating new integrations and app features. Should you choose not to sign up for a subscription you will no longer be able to access your Wink devices from the app, with voice control or through the API, and your automations will be disabled on May 13.

Years ago, I had a Wink setup and enjoyed the possibilities of it. Between a lack of updates, some partners going out of business, and ultimately HomeKit, the hub sat unused on a shelf and I eventually got rid of it.

I understand that services have costs to keep things running and 6+ years from a one-time $50 hub purchase is probably untenable, but the time frame is ridiculous. Even though I technically have an account, I didn’t receive any sort of communication and wouldn’t have known about this other than the post on Six Colors. Most things like this usually give customers a few months to prepare. In this case, it feels like a shakedown.