📆 Welcome again to your DGiT Monthly!
I said this last time: ‘Not the month we wanted, March 2020. Not the month we wanted.’ That applies again, believe it or not. April, the month where time had little meaning, and we probably all got sick of Zoom calls. In any case, it was a big month for tech. Let's take a look.
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April 1: Zoom’s now in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, as security woes went from oddities to real problems
April 2: Apple removed its App Store 30% cut for Amazon Prime Video in a surprise move, while Intel's 10th-gen CPUs were unveiled
April 3: Apple AirTags leaked and are more real than ever, but we still didn't see them in April... Hmm.
April 6: Quibi went live: its short, snappy and a little too slapdash videos entertained us for a few minutes. Not sure it really went further since launch, but they are porting it to TV as fast as they can, last I heard.
April 9: Google makes Stadia Pro free for everyone for two-months: have you tried, since then? More recently, Stadia got PUBG. But it's full of official bots to make up the numbers...
April 13: Apple-Google partnership for virus contact tracing (now called exposure notification) was first announced. By the end of April, we'd found out it was a just small team of committed devs, and an early API was available by the end of April.
April 14: Fitbit Charge 4: The best fitness tracker yet. Great reviews for this one, if only we could be active again...
April 15: OnePlus 8 launch: Familiar flagships, unfamiliar prices: $Not cheap, but great new devices.
April 16: Apple iPhone SE 2020: Great, unless you’re the competition. This hurt OnePlus directly.
April 17: Samsung loses the price wars with the S10 Lite: another new, too expensive not-flagship device.
April 20: Facebook launches a Twitch-copycat, Google Debit Card leaks emerged but not move yet.
April 21: Microsoft Surface Book 3, Surface Go 2 leaks: new Microsoft hardware didn't look too much different to the old stuff.
April 22: Motorola Edge launch day: hello new Moto!
April 23: Solid iPhone SE 2020 review emerged, while the Edge launched and matched its leaks, and Magic Leap cut 1,000 employees.
April 24: Apple working on rolling out 12-core MacBook ARM processors: much more information on Apple's efforts to ARM itself with its own processors, and ditch Intel CPUs.
April 27: Your next decision: Exposure notification app, or no app? (My look at a decision we'll all have to make soon enough; get the COVID app, or not?)
April 28: New Google Pixel Buds 2020 show big improvements: no point even comparing to the OG Pixel Buds, but compared to the AirPods and Galaxy Buds of the world it's a close race.
April 29: Elon Musk talks sun visors for SpaceX satellites, as the black paint solution to gumming up the night skies wasn't perfect. Musk went a bit off the rails via Twitter over the following days, but this was
April 30: OnePlus Z rumors looked at and looked into. Mind you, I'd like to retract that the photo of the supposed OnePlus Z is or was real, it's close but apparently not accurate.
I said this enough during the DGiT Daily newsletter over the past few weeks but the iPhone SE 2020 being a hugely competent device made it the best deal in tech.
It wasn’t just that Apple gave what is essentially the iPhone 8 from 2017 a faster chip, but a better camera too, for $399. Apple being the only real smartphone provider to offer updates into four and five years ensures the device won’t slowly become obsolete.
$400 was a lot of money but it doesn’t really feel like it is now. A Nokia 3310 cost about $160 when it launched in 2000. But the original iPhone in 2007 was $499 for 4GB of storage, $599 for 8GB, but Apple dropped the 8GB price to $399 after just a few months. (That made a lot of early buyers upset! Which reinforces the never buy a first-gen product, which I broke by buying Google Stadia. Should've stuck to the rules...)
Here we are 13 years later where Apple still has a $399 phone with its current best processor on board. What matters more is the latest silicon will handle most of the growing iOS feature set, and will be supported for years: Apple’s iPhone 6 range was the latest to be made “unsupported” in March 2020, and it was first released in 2014. Six years is about as good as it gets.
It’s a sensible choice. Of course, anyone with a $700-$1000 flagship will point at much better battery life, bigger screen, and far better all-round photography, among other features like 5G (eventually useful), and fast charging. There’s probably no going back for anyone with a big flashy smartphone who's used great triple-cameras to capture their lives and travels, but that’s not who it’s for.
Apple didn't give any indications of success in last night's earnings call, but spoke to what we thought about it. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said: “It plays in every geo, but I would expect to see it doing even better where the median incomes are less. I’d expect some fair number of people switching over to iOS. It’s an unbelievable offer. It’s the engine of our top phones, in a very affordable package, and it’s faster than the fastest Android phones. It’s an exceptional value.” That is to say, Cook didn't say much specifically.
The story heading into May now will be Google's own response with the Pixel 4a. The Pixel 3a was a very capable Android smartphone with many of the iPhone SE-like features, just without a flagship chip. But at the price and value, it was great. If the Pixel 4a just takes the same and updates it, maybe adding wireless charging and waterproofing that might be enough. Even without it, depending on the price point, it might be enough. Here are some apparent camera samples from the Pixel 4a.
Anyway, my colleague at Android Authority David Imel just finished his review of the iPhone SE 2020, he notes "I would suggest spending the extra $50 to upgrade to the 128GB storage option, as 64GB is a bit low, especially for a phone slated to last you three to five years." Agreed.
😢 The devastating decline of a brilliant young coder: What happened to Lee? (Wired).
📦 My oversubscribed life: A journey to the tipping point of life optimization (Esquire).
🤓The man who thought too fast: “Frank Ramsey—a philosopher, economist, and mathematician—was one of the greatest minds of the last century. Have we caught up with him yet?” (New Yorker).
There's a few small rumors about phones and laptops in May, but all we can say is where the hole that Google I/O 2020 now is, should still be some announcements in May:
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See you in the DGiT Daily and thanks again to CaliCase. By the way, since someone asked, if you want to see your thing sponsor this or the daily newsletter, let me know! You knew that already, right? Right? Cool! Enjoy the weekend,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor
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