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Peak iPad Pro: The end of major advances?

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So the new iPad Pro came out this week. And I subsequently spent over $1,200 for a new 12.9-inch 256GB WiFi model. Ouch.

I would have bought the 512GB version, but I’ve already spent enough money this year on the iPhone XS Max and the Apple Watch Series 4.

Look, I love Apple stuff, but I enjoy having a low credit card balance and a stress-free relationship with my wife. If I spend any more money on Apple this year she will almost certainly kick my ass.

I actually decided on the 256GB because I use the iPad primarily for apps and streaming at home as my main after-hours computing device; I don’t travel with the thing or load it up with music and other content. My iPhone XS Max is the 512GB version because it has my entire music library on it. It’s still probably overkill for my needs.

A number of the things I predicted about this crop of iPad Pros came true. But some important things did not.

For starters, I expected the CPU horsepower of the A12X SoC to be somewhat lower — it’s a 4X4 asymmetrical chip, rather than a 3X4 or a 3X6 in terms of core arrangement. It actually exceeded my lowest expectations in that respect; even the GPU is a 7-way versus a 6-way.

The actual real-world performance remains to be seen, and I am optimistic. With that much computing horsepower, you can absolutely drive a very high-resolution 4K or 5K display. It even can do it on an external monitor with the USB-C capability on this device and I can’t wait to test that out.

But on the 12.9-inch model, we didn’t get a built-in 4K display in the new iPad Pro, we got the same display resolution we got last year, and the year before that… and the year before that.

Look, 2,732 x 2,048-pixel resolution is nothing to scoff at; that’s a lot higher resolution than virtually all broadcast and subscription TV content, which is at 1080p or 720p in many cases. But it’s not 4K, which is 3840×2160.

I expected better for this year’s price bump. Sure, it’s an edge-to-edge display with the reduced form factor, and it has the FaceID stuff from the new iPhones. But I am not exactly a huge fan of FaceID because in real-world use, it’s less reliable and nowhere near as fast as the TouchID it’s replacing.

Granted, the new Apple Pencil is a huge improvement for creatives with the induction charging and magnetic connector to the iPad. But I don’t use an Apple Pencil — mine from 2015 is still sitting in the box, unopened. And apparently, I can’t use it on the new iPad Pro, so I guess I need to sell it or give it away.

The USB-C, however, I did not expect, given that the iPhones this year did not migrate to USB-C. So while I am overjoyed the iPad Pro has now joined the rest of the Apple MacBook family and the rest of the personal computing and mobile world, I am annoyed that we have to go through yet another year of charging cable insanity because my iPhone XS Max doesn’t match charge connectors now.

It means I need to have a dedicated charging area for my iPad Pro versus using the same ones I use for my iPhones. It was an ideal setup having the same USB-C to Lightning USB PD cables for my 2017 iPad Pro and my iPhone X. When one was done charging, I charged the other. With USB PD, it’s very fast, so it’s rare that one of the devices completely dies out while the other is charging up.

For my Android devices, I use a separate USB PD charging station, or I use USB-A to USB-C cables on the spare ports. It isn’t particularly fast, but it gets the job done.

Sure, I could just yank the USB PD to Lightning cable I use for my iPhones and switch out with a USB-C to USB-C cable when it needs to happen, but I absolutely hate pulling cables constantly. I buy cables and connect them to chargers and leave them there.

And forget the legacy ports on those chargers — you really don’t want to charge an iPad Pro with a USB-A to USB-C cable. It’s so ungodly slow at 2W. It takes forever.


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Okay, I admit that is a minor nitpick. I have my (arguably much slower) Qi charging pads I can use with my iPhones and Androids too when the iPad Pro is using up USB-C PD cords. I got multi-port wall chargers plugged into receptacles all over the house. I can make this work, right?

Ultimately, what disappoints me is the realization that — like the current crop of iPhones — iPad may have hit its “peak”.

We have reached a point in the development of these products where there are very few new features that can actually be improved upon without significant advances in the telecommunications infrastructure they actually run on.

The lack of a 4K display reflects a barrier that won’t be broken until we have ubiquitous 5G, gigabit-plus broadband and next-generation WiFi capabilities in the average residence.

I am probably one of the very few people that can actually reliably consume streamed 4K content because I have gigabit fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband and an 802.11ac 5Ghz WiFi network that an iPad Pro with its MIMO baseband transceiver can talk to in excess of 400Mbps. Most people do not have extreme connectivity setups like this, not even in the most connected areas of the country.

4K media files in high-quality — even when compressed in lossless formats — use up a lot of data and chew up a lot of bandwidth. With the rate caps and throttling that are likely going to come in place under the current FCC rules, few people are going to want to download that and wait that long to get it on their device before watching it.

And while I am hopeful that we will have nationwide 5G deployments in the next few years, the reality is very different from what is being promised to us.

Honestly, this may be one of the last new iPads I buy over the next few years. Even for someone who writes about technology and wants to keep up with things, it’s too expensive to do it each year along with all the other stuff that’s on an upgrade cycle, given the ever smaller incremental advances that are possible.

And that makes me sad.

Was the 2018 iPad Pro everything you thought it would be or hoped for? Or have we hit “Peak iPad?” Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Snapchat adds Spotlight – TechCrunch

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Snapchat introduces a TikTok-style feed, Amazon Echo Buds add fitness tracking and Vettery acquires Hired. This is your Daily Crunch for November 23, 2020.

The big story: Snapchat adds Spotlight

Snapchat has introduced a dedicated feed where users can watch short, entertaining videos — pretty similar to TikTok. This comes after the app also added TikTok-like music features last month.

Starting today, users will be able to send their Snaps to the new Spotlight feed. Viewers will be able to send direct messages to creators with public profiles (Spotlight will also include anonymous content from private accounts), but there will be no public commentary on these videos.

To encourage creators to post to Spotlight, Snapchat says it will be distributing more than $1 million every day who create the top videos on Spotlight.

The tech giants

Amazon’s Echo Buds get new fitness tracking features — Say “Alexa, start my workout” with the buds in, and they’ll begin logging steps, calories, distance, pace and duration of runs.

Uber refused permission to dismiss 11 staff at its EMEA HQ —The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency has refused to give Uber permission to dismiss 11 people at the company’s EMEA headquarters.

Facebook launches ‘Drives,’ a US-only feature for collecting food, clothing and other necessities for people in need — The feature is being made available through Facebook’s existing Community Help hub.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Relativity Space raises $500M as it sets sights on the industrialization of Mars — LA-based rocket startup Relativity had a big 2020, completing work on a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach.

Resilience raises over $800M to transform pharmaceutical manufacturing in response to COVID-19 — The company will invest heavily in developing new manufacturing technologies across cell and gene therapies, viral vectors, vaccines and proteins.

Video mentoring platform Superpeer raises $8M and launches paid channels — The Superpeer platform allows experts to promote, schedule and charge for one-on-one video calls with anyone who might want to ask for their advice.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Seven things we just learned about Sequoia’s European expansion plans — Steve O’Hear interviews Luciana Lixandru and Matt Miller about the firm’s plans.

Founders seeking their first check need a fundraising sales funnel — Start digging the well before you’re thirsty.

Will Brazil’s Roaring 20s see the rise of early-stage startups? — In September, homegrown startups raised a record $843 million.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. And until November 30, you can get 25% off an annual membership.)

Everything else

Vettery acquires Hired to create a ‘unified’ job search platform — Vettery CEO Josh Brenner said the two platforms are largely complementary.

Gift Guide: Which next-gen console is the one your kid wants? — This holiday season, the next generation of gamers will be hoping to receive the next generation of gaming consoles.

Original Content podcast: ‘The Crown’ introduces its Princess Diana — The new season focuses on Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and on Prince Charles’ troubled marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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The downfall of ad tech means the trust economy is here – TechCrunch

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2020 has brought about much-needed social movements. In June, activists launched the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a call to hold social media companies like Facebook accountable for the hate happening on their platforms.

The idea was to pull advertising spending to wake these social platforms up. More than 1,200 businesses and nonprofits joined the movement, including brands such as The North Face, Patagonia and Verizon. I led my company, Cheetah Digital, to join alongside some of our clients like Starbucks and VF Corp.

Stop Hate for Profit highlighted social media hitting its tipping point. Twitter and Snapchat chose to stand up against hate speech, banning political ads and taking action to flag misinformation. Facebook, unfortunately, has not yet been as proactive, or at best it’s been sporadic in its response.

While many thought the movement would come and go, the reality is it has only just begun. With America conducting arguably its most divisive election in history, these problems won’t just go away. For marketers, Stop Hate for Profit is more than a social movement — it is pointing to an issue with ad tech as a whole.

I believe we are seeing the downfall of ad tech as we know it with social media boycotts and data privacy leading the charge.

The social media quagmire

In May, Forrester released a report titled “It’s OK to Break Up with Social Media” that contained statistics indicating that consumers are fed up with social media: 70% of respondents said they don’t trust social media platforms with their data. Only 14% of consumers believe the information they read on social media is trustworthy. 37% of online adults in the U.S. believe social media does more harm than good.

Here is the reality we need to get back to: Social media isn’t built for marketers to reach consumers. In the beginning of the social media craze, brands rushed to get on board and join the conversations. What many brands discovered is these channels became a platform for customer complaints not for building positive brand perception. Furthermore, the social platforms marketers flocked to as an avenue to reach customers began charging marketers just to get to the customers.

The algorithms that define what content you see unfortunately make it harder for people to see opposing views, and this more than anything else polarizes society further. If you start looking at QAnon content, very soon that’s all the algorithms feed you. You might spend more time on social platforms fueling their ad dollars, but you have also lost a grip on reality. Marketers must admit things have gone too far on social media and it is okay to move on.

Privacy matters

Imagine you are in need of a minor surgery. Perhaps you take an Uber ride to the specialist for a consultation. Next, you go get the surgery and it is successful. Soon you find yourself at home recovering and all is well. That is, until you start scrolling Facebook. Suddenly advertisements pop up for medical malpractice lawyers, but you haven’t told anyone about the surgery and you certainly didn’t post about it on social media.

Here you are, just wanting to rest and recover at home, but instead you are being bombarded by advertisements. So how did those ads get there? You left a digital footprint, your data was sold and now you’re being hit with intrusive ads. To me, this story crystallizes the abuse ad tech has been fostering in the world around us. There’s an utter invasion of privacy and consumers aren’t blind to it.

Data privacy has been a focus of conversation for marketers for several years now. Just this year, America saw the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) go into effect and become enforceable. This legislation gives back control of data to the consumer. In June, Apple announced updates to make it harder for apps and publishers to track location data and use it for ad targeting. At the beginning of August, Meredith and Kroger announced a partnership to provide first-party sales data for advertising efforts in an attempt to move off of cookies. It is clear data privacy is not a fad going away anytime soon.

Where do marketers go from here?

I believe the future of marketing is the trust economy. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, the invasion of privacy and shifting attitudes and behaviors of consumers point to the end of an era where marketers relied upon third-party data. Trust is now the most impactful economic power, not data. We conducted research earlier this year with eConsultancy, and our findings revealed that 39% of U.S. consumers don’t like personal ads driven from cookie data. People don’t want to be tracked and targeted as they click around the web. Ad tech’s roof is caving in and marketers must adjust.

The old methods of marketing won’t carry you through into the era of the trust economy. It is time to look to new channels and revisit old channels. We have to shift back to the channels where we own what is being said. Advertising on social platforms should be focused on driving consumers to owned channels where you can capture their permissions and data to connect with them directly. Consider email as a channel to focus on.

Don’t worry — it works. That same eConsultancy report found nearly three out of four consumers made a purchase in the last 12 months from an email sent by a brand or retailer and massively outperformed social ads when it came to driving sales. Similarly nine times as many U.S. consumers want to increase their participation in loyalty programs in 2020 than those that want to reduce their involvement. You have to ensure you are owning your data and loyalty programs are a treasure trove of consumer data you own. Emily Collins from Forrester does a good job of explaining why you can achieve this with a true loyalty strategy, not just a rewards program.

Your goal should be to build direct connections to consumers. Building trust means offering a value exchange for data and engagement, not going and buying it from a third-party. Fatemah Khatibloo, a principal analyst for Forrester wrote, “Zero-party data is that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize her.” This zero-party data is foundational for the trust economy and you should check out her advice on how it helps you navigate privacy and personalization.

Take responsibility

The trust economy is really about asking yourself, as a marketer, what you stand for. How do you view your relationship with consumers? Do you care? What kind of relationship do you want? Privacy has to be part of this. Accountability is crucial. We must be accountable to where we are putting our money. It’s time to stop supporting hate, propping up the worst of society and fueling division. Start taking responsibility, caring about social issues and building meaningful relationships with consumers built on trust.

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Facebook launches ‘Drives,’ a U.S.-only feature for collecting food, clothing and other necessities for people in need – TechCrunch

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Facebook today is introducing a new feature that will allow users in the U.S. to collect food, clothing, and other necessities for people in need. The feature, called “Drives,” is being made available through Facebook’s existing Community Help hub, which is the place where Facebook centralizes requests and offers for help within a local community.

The Community Help hub was first launched in 2017 as a way for Facebook users to centralize their resources in the wake of a crisis, like a man-made, accidental or natural disaster, ranging from weather events to terrorist attacks, and more. In 2020, however, the feature has been put to broader use as a part of Facebook’s COVID-19 efforts, which even saw a version of Community Help feature scaled globally to help those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, with the economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., millions are out of work and 12 million may lose their unemployment benefits in December when CARES Act provisions lapse. Food insecurity and an inability to pay bills, including rent and mortgage payments, as well as manage other household expenses, are impacting millions as well.

With Drives, Facebook will allow users to create and share their own efforts in collecting items for those in need, like a Canned Food Drive that’s looking to gather items for local shelters, a Clothing Drive, or any other event where someone is working to collect items to help others.

Image Credits: Facebook

To create a Drive, type “Community Help” into Facebook Search to find the shortcut that takes you to the Community Help hub. From there, click the “Request or Offer Help” button, and on the bottom sheet that appears, click “Create Drive.” You can then fill out the form, setting a goal for the number of items you want to collect. When you post the Drive, others will be able to see what’s still needed with this goal tracker. Once created, the Drive will appear in your News Feed and Timeline like a regular post, in addition to appearing in Community Help.

The feature is rolling out starting today, but it may not be widely available to all for “weeks,” Facebook says. That’s unfortunate, given that many people likely want to run holiday-related Drives within the hub to help get food for holiday meals or toys for families in need, for example.

Facebook notes that all posts in Community Help, including Drives, are reviewed to ensure they don’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards or its Community Help Product Policies. These policies prohibit insensitive and promotional content, spam, inauthentic posts, and posts from users under 18, among other things. If posts are found to be in violation, they’re taken down, the company says.

Drives is one of several efforts around holiday giving that Facebook announced today. The company also says it will match up to $7 million in eligible donations to U.S. nonprofits on GivingTuesday (Dec. 1), and is running its own fundraiser, “Peace Through Music: A Global Event For Social Justice” exclusively on Facebook Live. The event, on Dec. 1 at 12 PM ET, will feature Aloe Blacc, Billie Eilish, Becky G, Carlos Santana & Cindy Blackman Santana, Killer Mike, Ringo Starr, Skip Markey, and others. The event will support the Playing for Change Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, Sankofa, Silkroad and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

Meanwhile, Instagram will soon gain new fundraising tools. Today, Instagram users can fundraise with stickers on Stories and on Instagram Live. A new feature will allow Instagram users to post fundraisers to their Instagram Feed, too, but Facebook didn’t offer a timeframe as to when that feature would launch.

 

 

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