Steam Link now lets you beam Steam games to your iOS devices

About a year ago, Valve announced that it was building an application called Steam Link. It’d let you play Steam games built for Mac/Windows/Linux on your iOS or Android devices through the magic of streaming, with a computer on your local network doing all the actual heavy lifting.

Then Valve submitted it to the iOS App Store and… Apple rejected it. At the time, Valve said that Apple pinned the rejection on “business conflicts”.

A year later, it seems said conflicts have finally been resolved. Steam Link for iOS just hit the App Store.

Because there’s no way most PC games would be fun on a touchscreen, you’ll probably want a controller — Valve says that Made for iPhone-certified controllers should work, as will its own Steam-branded controller. The company also notes that for best performance, the computer doing the streaming should be hardwired to your router, and your iOS device should be running on your WiFi network’s 5Ghz band.

You can now buy a 1 terabyte microSD card

Remember when the idea of having a terabyte of storage was just mind-blowing?

Now they’re packing a terabyte onto a card the size of your pinky nail.

In news that would have made teenage me’s head pop, SanDisk is now selling a 1 terabyte version of its Extreme microSD line for $450. The company first talked up these cards at Mobile World Congress back in February, but now they’re actually hitting the shelves. As Tom’s Guide spotted, it’s available on SanDisk’s site as of this morning.

Read speeds cap out at 90MB/s, while write speeds are capped at 60MB/s. SanDisk has a product page indicating that a faster ExtremePro card (170MB/s read, 90MB/s write) is on the way, but they don’t give any indication as to when.

Once upon a time, the idea of having (much less needing) a terabyte on something that fits in a tiny slot on a device in your pocket seemed funny. Then came 4K video, portable devices that can record in 4K and an ever-growing library of games with absolutely massive textures. Filling up a terabyte isn’t quite the challenge it used to be.

To anyone reading this in 2099 and laughing at our amazement at cramming a terabyte of storage onto a card this size while you’ve got a copy of every movie ever recorded stored in a strand of hair or something: you and your personal rocket ship can scram. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a nightmare about losing a dime-sized card with a terabyte of data on it.

Game Of Thrones’ showrunners are making the next Star Wars movie

 

Love it or hate it, Game of Thrones ends this week. The series finale will air this upcoming Sunday, capping a final season that has been criticized for being too short, too rushed, and, at times, too damned hard to see. Seemingly immune to the ires of the Internet, the series’ showrunners are moving right from one heavily-debated property to another: Star Wars.

We’ve known for a while now that GoT showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff were working on at least one Star Wars movie, but details thus far had been pretty light. Where would their movie fit into the release schedule?

Thanks to a talk from Walt Disney CEO Bog Iger at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications summit today, we now know a bit more: it’ll be the next Star Wars movie released after 2019’s Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker.

TheWrap quotes Iger here as saying:

We did a deal with David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who are famous for ‘Game of Thrones’ and the next movie that we release will be theirs, and we’re not saying anything more about that.

It’s worth noting, however, that “next” doesn’t mean it’s coming right away.

As Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed a few weeks ago, Disney is taking a bit of a hiatus on Star Wars movies after Episode IX to spend some time figuring out how it all plays out from here. According to the release schedule that Disney/Fox published earlier this month, we likely won’t be seeing this one until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

While they’re taking a hiatus from Star Wars movies, they’re not taking a hiatus from Star Wars overall. As Iger noted today, Disney is currently working on two live-action Star Wars series (one called The Mandalorian, and one focusing on Cassian Andor around the time leading up to Rogue One) that’ll air on its upcoming Disney+ streaming service, but he also says he expects at least one additional as-of-yet unannounced series to debut before the next movie.

Here’s everything Google announced today at the I/O 2019 Keynote

 

In a two hour keynote at the annual Google I/O Conference this afternoon, the company announced a ton of stuff it’s been working on over the last year, from new phones to a next-gen version of its voice-powered Assistant.

Don’t have time to watch it all? That’s okay — we’ll summed up the biggest stuff for you.

Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL

As rumored, Google is launching more affordable versions of its Pixel 3 phones.

To bring the price down, they’ve bumped the processor down a bit (from a Snapdragon 845 to a Snapdragon 670), capped storage at 64GB, and dropped wireless charging capabilities. On the upside, they found room for a 3.5mm headphone jack!

The Pixel 3a will start at $399, and come with a 5.6″ display, 12.2mp rear camera, and run Android P out of the box. The Pixel 3a XL will start at $479, and bumps the screen up to 6.0″.

TechCrunch’s Brian Heater checked out the devices earlier this week. You can find his impressions here.

Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max

The Google Home Hub is being rebranded as the “Nest Hub,” with the price dropping from $149 to $129.

Meanwhile, it’s getting a bigger brother: take the Nest Hub, bump the display up from 7″ to 10″, and add a camera — that’s the Nest Hub Max. The Nest Hub Max will tie into the Nest app, allowing it to function like any other Nest cam. Google says a hardware switch on the back disables the camera/microphone (alas, it doesn’t seem like you can disable one without disabling the other.) It’ll cost $229 and ship this summer.

A new “Face Match” feature on the Nest Hub Max will recognize your face to customize its responses. In a blog post on the feature, Google says “Face Match’s facial recognition is processed locally with on-device machine learning, so the camera data never leaves the device.”

Augmented Reality in search

Certain search results — like, say, a search for a specific shoe model, or “great white shark” — will now include 3D models. Tap the model and you’ll be able to place it in a view of the real world via augmented reality.

Google Lens Upgrades

Google Lens is learning a few new tricks. Point Google Lens at a restaurant’s menu, and it’ll highlight the most popular items. Point it at your receipt, and it’ll automatically calculate things like tips and totals.

Duplex on the Web

At I/O last year, Google launched Duplex, an AI-powered customer service tool meant to help small businesses (like restaurants and hair salons) field more phone calls, answering common questions and scheduling reservations or appointments.

This year it’ll expand on this by opening up Duplex to the web. Online car rental reservations were given as an example; you say “get me a rental car through [rental company]”, and it pulls up that company’s website and automatically starts booking your car. It can pre-fill things like trip dates from your calendar, and car preferences based on previous rental confirmations found in your Gmail.

Google’s “Next-Gen” Assistant

Google has managed to shrink its voice recognition models down from hundreds of gigabytes to half a gigabyte, making them small enough to fit right on a phone.

By storing it locally, they’re able to eliminate the latency involved with the back-and-forth pings to the cloud, making conversations with Assistant almost instantaneous. As it’s running on the device, it’ll work even in airplane mode. The company showed off the new speed by firing off voice requests rapid fire, with very little delay between commands (like “Call me a Lyft” or “Turn on my flashlight”) and their resulting actions.

Google says its next-gen Assistant will hit new Pixel phones later this year.

Google Assistant in Waze

Google Assistant will be built into the Waze up “in just a few weeks”, allowing you to do things like report accidents or potholes by voice.

Google Assistant Driving Mode

Saying “Hey Google, lets drive” will now shift Assistant into driving mode, a minimalist/at-a-glance dashboard view that focuses on what you might need while behind the wheel, like directions to your daily spots and music control.

Incognito Mode in Google Maps

Like incognito mode in a browser, the new incognito mode in Google Maps will prevent your destination searches/routes from being saved to your Google account history.

Live Caption and Live Transcribe

Android will soon be able to automatically generate captions for media on your phone, including podcasts you’ve got saved and videos you’ve recorded. 

Through a feature the company calls “Live Relay”, it can also transcribe phone calls in realtime, and allows users to respond via text.

Here’s Google’s video of Live Relay in action:

 

Project Euphonia

Google is researching how it can adapt its AI voice algorithms to better understand users with speech impairments (such as those with ALS or who have had a stroke), custom tailoring its models to an individual user’s speech to better help them communicate.

Dark Theme

Android Q will have a dark mode; you can trigger it manually, or it’ll turn on automatically in battery saver mode.

Focus Mode

Need to get some work done? With Focus Mode, you’ll make a list of the apps you find most distracting — flip a switch, and they’ll disappear until you turn Focus Mode off.  It’ll hit Android this fall.

Google Maps AR mode rolls out to Pixel phones

A few months back, Google showed off a new augmented reality mode that it’s been working on for Google Maps. The goal? Help make sure people start off their walks heading in the right direction. Hold your phone up and you’ll see a camera view of the world in front of you. Google Maps will compare this image to its Street View data to determine your exact position/orientation better than GPS alone can, then draw arrows that point you in the right direction.

This mode has been in beta for a while, and should start hitting Pixel phones later today.

Shortly after its consumer-focused keynote, Google followed up with a separate, developer-focused keynote. It included things like:

A glitch is breaking all Firefox extensions

Did you just open Firefox only to find all of your extensions disabled and/or otherwise not working?

You’re not alone, and it’s nothing you did.

Reports are pouring in of a glitch that has spontaneously disabled effectively all Firefox extensions.

Each extension is now being listed as a “legacy” extension, alongside a warning that it “could not be verified for use in Firefox and has been disabled”.

A ticket submitted to Mozilla’s Bugzilla bug tracker first hit at around 5:40 PM Pacific, and suggests the sudden failure is due to a code signing certificate built into the browser that expired just after 5 PM (or midnight on May 4th in UTC time).

Because the glitch stems from an underlying certificate, re-installing extensions won’t help. Getting extensions back for everyone is going to require Mozilla to issue a patch.

In a post on the company’s forum, Mozilla Add-ons Community Manager Caitlin Neiman writes:

At about 6:10 PST we received a report that a certificate issue for Firefox is causing add-ons to stop working and add-on installs to fail.

Our team is actively working on a fix. We will update as soon as we have more information.

Pluralsight will acquire GitPrime for $170M

Pluralsight, an online training platform focusing on subjects like web development, IT certification, and security training, announced today that it will acquire GitPrime, a dev team productivity tool, for $170M in cash.

GitPrime is like an analytics dashboard for code projects. It watches your team’s code repositories on services like GitHub or Bitbucket, tracking things like user-by-user code commits over time, ticket activity, and how different team members tackle things like pull requests. The idea is that by providing this data in a visual/at-a-glance way, it helps to identify bottlenecks and highlight where your teams are most efficient.

The company was a part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2016 class, and CrunchBase indicates their most recent round was a $10.5M Series A.

Pluralsight went public in May of last year. The company says this is its first acquisition post-IPO, and that they expect the deal to close by the end of next week.

Nine lessons on how Niantic reached a $4B valuation

We’ve captured much of Niantic’s ongoing story in the first three parts of our EC-1, from its beginnings as an “entrepreneurial lab” within Google, to its spin-out as an independent company and the launch of Pokémon GO, to its ongoing focus on becoming a platform for others to build augmented reality products upon.

It’s not an origin story that serves as an easily replicable blueprint — but if we zoom out a bit, what’s to be learned?

A few key themes stuck with me as I researched Niantic’s story so far. Some of them – like the challenges involved with moving millions of users around the real world – are unique to this new augmented reality that Niantic is helping to create. Others – like that scaling is damned hard – are well-understood startup norms, but interesting to see from the perspective of an experienced team dealing with a product launch that went from zero to 100 real quick.

The reading time for this article is 21 minutes (5,125 words).

Build on top of what works best

Everything Niantic has built so far is an evolution of what the team had built before it. Each major step on Niantic’s path has a clear footprint that precedes it; a chunk of DNA that proved advantageous, and is carried along into the next thing.

Looking back, it’s a cycle we can see play out on repeat: build a thing, identify what works about it, trim the extra bits, then build a new thing from that foundation.

Services really are becoming a bigger part of Apple’s business

 

We’ve known for a while now that Apple was going to be putting more of an emphasis on services. As the technical leaps from one iPhone/iPad/Mac generation to the next become less dramatic, product revenue has started to shrink; in response, the company is focusing on driving forward on things like the App Store, iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple Music, and its soon-to-launch games and video offerings.

This shift is already playing out in the company’s financials. While product sales dipped a bit year-over-year — down from $51.3B in the quarter that ran from January to March 2018 to $46.6B in the same quarter of 2019 — revenue from the services business climbed from $9.9B to $11.5B.

In this fiscal Q2 quarter of 2018, Apple’s total revenue came in at roughly $61.1B; in the same quarter of 2019, it dipped to $58B. This works out to services accounting for 16.1% of Apple’s revenue in fiscal Q2 2018, but nearly 20% in fiscal Q2 2019. Apple CFO Luca Maestri says services now account for “one third” of the company’s gross profits.

A big part of Apple’s services business is monthly subscriptions — the things like iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple News that make money each month from the hardware they’ve already sold. Tim Cook says Apple now has 390 million paid subscriptions across its services. Cook didn’t dive into how that breaks down service-by-service, but that’s up roughly 30 million subscribers over last quarter. The company says it expects paid subscribers to surpass half a billion by 2020 (presumably fueled by the launch of its gaming/video services.)

Services really are becoming a bigger part of Apple’s business

 

We’ve known for a while now that Apple was going to be putting more of an emphasis on services. As the technical leaps from one iPhone/iPad/Mac generation to the next become less dramatic, product revenue has started to shrink; in response, the company is focusing on driving forward on things like the App Store, iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple Music, and its soon-to-launch games and video offerings.

This shift is already playing out in the company’s financials. While product sales dipped a bit year-over-year — down from $51.3B in the quarter that ran from January to March 2018 to $46.6B in the same quarter of 2019 — revenue from the services business climbed from $9.9B to $11.5B.

In this fiscal Q2 quarter of 2018, Apple’s total revenue came in at roughly $61.1B; in the same quarter of 2019, it dipped to $58B. This works out to services accounting for 16.1% of Apple’s revenue in fiscal Q2 2018, but nearly 20% in fiscal Q2 2019. Apple CFO Luca Maestri says services now account for “one third” of the company’s gross profits.

A big part of Apple’s services business is monthly subscriptions — the things like iCloud, Apple Music, and Apple News that make money each month from the hardware they’ve already sold. Tim Cook says Apple now has 390 million paid subscriptions across its services. Cook didn’t dive into how that breaks down service-by-service, but that’s up roughly 30 million subscribers over last quarter. The company says it expects paid subscribers to surpass half a billion by 2020 (presumably fueled by the launch of its gaming/video services.)

Apple and Qualcomm are ending their legal battles

 

The years-long legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm appears to be coming to an end.

In a standoff that has been brewing since 2017, Apple argued that Qualcomm was charging too much for patent licensing. After Apple shifted to using Intel chips, Qualcomm moved to get iPhone imports banned in countries around the world for patent infringement.

The two companies have just announced a settlement, with both agreeing to drop all litigation with the other worldwide.

Exact details of the agreement are under wraps, with the two companies only disclosing:

  • A payment (amount undisclosed) is being made from Apple to Qualcomm
  • The two companies are establishing a six-year licensing agreement (with the option to extend by up to two years), and a “multiyear” chipset supply agreement

Qualcomm stock spiked by about 18% with the news.