📆 Welcome again to your DGiT Monthly!
The Monthly is a wider look at tech and issues. With July under our belts, we saw a Big Tech reckoning, OnePlus dominate the month with Nord news and eventual release to solid reviews, NASA’s Perseverance rover launched to Mars, and so much more. August is looking very busy too: with Samsung and Google set to launch new phones and foldables and maybe new Chromecast/Nest devices, along with leaks suggesting Microsoft’s Duo is set for August, plus Xiaomi and Nokia might have new flagships too.Don’t forget feedback or just a chat is welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org - I read all emails!
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July 2: A bunch of leaks heralded the start of the month, tracking OnePlus Nord specs and pricing details, and Note 20 image leaks, while Google discontinued the Pixel 3a and 3a XL.
July 6: The end of the 747: an early goodbye but it’s goodbye for real this time to an icon. Boeing confirmed these reports by the end of the month.
July 7: The TikTok ban talk began: The US is ‘very seriously’ looking at banning TikTok, something that hasn’t yet happened but continues to be threatened.
July 8: A date for the next Galaxy Unpacked: By now we know that Samsung will unveil five new devices.
July 9: The end of the phone charger in the box: One of the more divisive bits of news of the month, with Apple set to phase out the charger in the box to reduce costs, and the smartphone industry to follow the Pied Piper. Sony Xperia 1 II reviewed well.
July 10: Google forced to confirm a new Nest smart speaker with pretty photos, after not-pretty leaks stole the headlines for half a day. Is this coming in August?
July 13: Best of Android returned with a mid-year showdown: my colleagues at Android Authority spent a huge amount of time testing, researching, and finding out who was naughty and nice, this time at the half-way mark of the year.
July 14: Samsung’s 6G research gave us insights into the future: 16K XR and Holograms by 2028.
July 15: New 125W charging can fill your phone fast but at a cost. NBC’s Peacock launched, too.
July 16: The big Twitter Hack for Bitcoin: Limited returns leave questions. Some of those questions have been answered by now: Twitter let too many employees have access, and Coinbase might’ve prevented at least $300k from going to the scammers.
July 17: Xbox gets closer to Netflix for gaming with xCloud joining Game Pass: one gaming pass to rule them all.
July 20: GPT-3 examples amaze even if it’s not AI, Best of Android Mid-2020 found a winner in the OnePlus 8 Pro.
July 21: Adobe landed the former Google Pixel camera lead, while finally the OnePlus Nord launched today.
July 22: Nord launch: new mid-range smartphone that ticked lots of boxes, while the LG Velvet launched in the US at $599.
July 23: ASUS ROG Phone 3: A gaming phone surprises as a great allrounder, a real surprise of the month.
July 24: Gorilla Glass Victus promises toughest gadget glass yet, and robot dolphins completely baffled me.
July 27: OnePlus Nord reviews came out, showing how compromise can work. Shame about the cameras.
July 28: My vote for retro gaming: Why the $200 Analogue Pocket makes some sense, even at $200.
July 29: We previewed the Big Tech faceoff, and looked at BMW’s preview of how you might drive when cars mostly drive themselves via a weird yoke thing.
July 30: The big moments from the tech CEO grilling, and NASA’s Perseverance launch to Mars went off without a hitch!
July 31: Finally, it’s official — Google announced the Pixel 4a will officially be coming out Monday August 3rd. Plus, Big Tech unveiled bonza earnings. Except for Google, that is. Plus, late news about Nvidia buying Arm, TikTok being banned, and more.
I’m torn here. The Big Story is often smacking you in the face. Big Tech’s reckoning is doing the smacking again, but given regulation rather than break-up are being talked about, maybe the story is elsewhere. We found out the four companies represented in Congress reported a combined quarterly profit of $28.6 billion, during one of the worst economies on record. But tech is uniquely aligned with providing services during that pandemic, hence the surging valuations, and the likes of Pinterest and Snapchat did very well, too.
The two things I think that might reverberate aside from whatever comes of political wrangling looks like this: Apple’s Mac and iPad sales , and Microsoft’s Netflix of games that seems imminent.
1. Apple announced Macs and iPad sales were way up over the last three months: revenues up 21.6% and 31% respectively, from the same period last year. And Apple said with supply chain interruptions, it couldn’t even meet total demand, even while stores were closed. These devices clearly supported working from home, and education for kids logging into Zoom classrooms, if parents could afford it.
It’s not all about Apple, either. Gartner and International Data Corporation (IDC) both reported growing shipments of desktop computers, laptops and workstations, up 11% (WSJ, $).
There’s no way of knowing the future, but this surge in devices will have lasting consequences. Remote work and education are now possible. I don’t think anyone believes that a University degree is better online, but remote work with optional office days — the dream for many, when we go back to normal — looks more possible. It’s now backed by assets.
2. Xbox’s growing Game Pass. A couple of interesting things here. Project xCloud, which streams Xbox games to other devices including Android smartphones, is now baked into Xbox Game Pass at cost. Microsoft also admitted (and laughed off concerns!) that “Xbox Game Pass is not a big profit play,” and there’s something weird going on with Xbox Live Gold, which is the-optional-but basically-necessary subscription to play multiplayer games. Suddenly, Microsoft isn’t selling long-term Xbox Live Gold subscriptions any more.
The implications are: either Microsoft is making online play free, or it’s all going to GamePass, to create a single payment across Xbox and PC to unlock tonnes of games as a real Netflix model, and a flex on Sony’s model.
Microsoft’s only lack of influence is on mobile gaming. It appears like it’s partnering more closely with Samsung on this. We’ll find out more on August 5.
But what plays out with Game Pass, cloud gaming, and next-generation consoles, looks really significant for gaming across the board.
👵 When Boomers Must Zoom (Wired).
👕 ‘It’s bullsh-t’: Inside the weird, get-rich-quick world of dropshipping that mostly exists via nomads in Bali and Thailand (Wired).
🕳 The cold war bunker that became home to a Dark-Web empire (New Yorker).
🕸 The Soviet Web: the tale of how the USSR almost invented the internet (The Calvert Journal).
Thanks for reading!
See you in the DGiT Daily, and until next time,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor
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