Takeovers and twitter headaches

Hello friends!

Lucas will be out for several more days so this Week In Review, I am filling in. Let’s just say that I am Greg. When deciding which MySpace Top 8 member to use was a serious business, I began at TC. Being able to summon an Uber using a button press convinced people that you were a futurist wizard.

Let’s start with a warning before we get into all the latest news this week. Brian Heater’s much-loved robotics recap is becoming a weekly newsletter and getting a fancy new name: Actuator. The official launch date is still kind of up in the air, but you can already sign up for it right here.

Here’s the latest news from this week.

Big Thing

You’ve probably interacted with something created with Unity. This engine powers so many video games, so regardless of platform or console. It is used by studios to create animated films. It is used by automakers to design vehicles.

This week Unity announced its intent to make a big acquisition — its biggest to date, in fact — with the $320M purchase of Parsec. While it is not unusual for one company to buy another, the senior vice president of Unity suggests this could signal a larger shift in the company’s direction.

What is a Parsec, you ask? Besides a unit of measurement that Star Wars fans love to argue about.

Parsec was originally created to allow you to stream your games to less-powerful devices, or to distant friends. This allows for long distance multiplayer in games which don’t normally support it. It still does that.

The company discovered that many features it had developed for remote gaming (low latency streaming and support for input devices other than keyboard/mouse) were no longer available when the pandemic hit. These features were extremely important for the developers of remote games. The new audience was welcomed enthusiastically and they quickly developed plans and features for the creative team. They were able to raise $25M and be acquired by nearly 13 times that amount in just one year.

This is Unity’s first step towards deeper integration into the cloud, according to Marc Whitten (Unity SVP Marc Whitten).

He says, “I believe you’re going to see that Parsec provides a solid foundation for broad cloud ambitions that we have as companies.” You’ll see more of us in this particular regard.

There are many paths to cloud computing, even if you only consider what Parsec brings to the table. They could use Parsec to help Unity developers more easily add multiplayer to their games; they could use it to build a Stadia/Amazon Luna-style game streaming service that showcases Unity-powered games sans downloads; they could use it to offer up beefier hardware-in-the-cloud rentals to help smaller studios iterate more quickly or test on a wider range of devices.

Parsec is free to use with your friends, from far away.

If you’re an Extra Crunch member, check out Eric Peckham’s deep dive on the rise of Unity here.

Additional Items

Ariana Grande takes over Fortnite

Fortnite’s evolution will make for a fascinating book. Fortnite began as a popular tower defense game. It became a Battle Royale free-to-play game and quickly became one of the most popular games in the world. Now it’s a remarkable example of how a game can be a place, and what can be when a developer has absolute control over their game engine and might-as-well-be-endless money to throw into content creation. This in-game Ariana Grande concert, #2138,413, features players dancing with a skyscraper-sized Ariana and riding rainbows. Millions have already seen the YouTube replay .

Twitter redesign

Twitter revamped its website last week… but there was user resistance. This time it went beyond the usual “I don’t like the radius of the rounded corners” complaints, though, with some users complaining that the new font Twitter chose gave them headaches.

Apple clarifies how new safety features for children work

Apple last week announced that it was rolling out a number of new features to protect children. One will alert parents if a child sends or receives explicit images via iMessage. Another will automatically generate hashes from iCloud Photos and detect users that are storing child abuse photos. Security researchers are concerned about government misuse of iCloud Photos to search for other abuse images. While it is undeniably and universally good for protecting children, there have been concerns raised by security experts. It’s said to have caused a bit of a dustup within Apple, with “more than 800 messages” of back-and-forth posted by employees on the company’s internal Slack. The company has spent the last few days trying to clarify how the features will work, with Apple’s Craig Federighi admitting that it “got jumbled pretty badly in terms of how things were understood”. Read our interview with Apple’s head of Privacy here.

Xiaomi Robodog

Boston Dynamics’ Spot may not be the creepiest dystopian robot dog around. CyberDog is a new four-legged robot from Xiaomi. It will be used by the company to expand its robo knowledge as well as provide a platform to developers. They’ll sell them at $1,500. But there’s a catch. There are only a few thousand and only a select group of “Xiaomi” fans and engineers.

Lowercarbon invests $800M in order to “keep unscrewing the planet”.

Lowercarbon Capital, a climate-focused fund managed by Chris Sacca and Crystal Sacca raised $800M for companies working to address the climate crisis. Sacca writes that it turned out that raising funds for climate funding in the midst of an unprecedented heatwave, and hidden behind thick clouds of smoke didn’t help. Is tech the solution to saving our planet? TBD. Continue doing nothing will not work.

FEMA test the U.S. Emergency Alert System

Do not panic if your phone started yelling about the National Wireless Emergency System test earlier in the week. It was actually a test. Didn’t get it? You don’t have to panic. The test is optional. Everyone will pass if there is an actual test. We hope so.

Image Credits: Xiaomi

Additional Items

Employers should be more open to working from home.

Are you trying to get everyone into your office faster than you would like? Send this email from Karl Laughton (Insightly COO), outlining the positives and data-driven outcomes that the company has experienced since moving remote.

Dear Sophie, Can you hire an engineer who has a sponsoring company for a green card?

The perfect candidate has been found and you are ready to offer. But there is a problem: They need an EB-2 greencard and another company has started sponsoring them. Is it possible? It depends. Dear Sophie’s latest issue features Sophie Alcorn, an immigration attorney who explains the EB-2 process.

Publited at Sun, 15 August 2021 15:02.04 +0000

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