Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tech: I was really excited about my MacBook Pro purchase last year — but...

It turns out Apple’s new MacBook Air was the computer I wanted all along. But how could I have known that last year?
Apple’s new MacBook Air seems to be the perfect laptop for me.
The problem is that I spent thousands on a new Apple laptop last year.
I’m annoyed because my MacBook Pro has several issues that the new MacBook Air fixed.
When I received my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in August of 2017, I was pumped.
15 months later, I have mixed feelings about my major purchase — and many of them are caused by Apple’s new MacBook Air with Retina display, which is the laptop I wish I had bought.
I thought I had made the purchase correctly. I researched the specs, saved up, and waited until Apple refreshed its laptops with the latest Intel chips, so I wouldn’t be buying old technology.
Reader, it was expensive. I loaded it up with lots of bells and whistles, including an upgraded processor, additional RAM, and extra storage space. I had owned my last MacBook Air for over six years, so I was ready to amortize the roughly $2,000 cost over a long period of time.
And now, just over a year later, I regret my purchase. It’s not really a knock on the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — although there are issues — it’s just that the new MacBook Air is the right machine for what I need to do, and I’m frustrated that there was no similar option when I needed a new Mac.
Now, I’ve got an expensive laptop that I’m not completely satisfied with that I expected to own through 2023, and my wandering eye is looking towards Apple’s latest and greatest.
Read more: Hands-on with Apple’s new redesigned MacBook Air: This could be the laptop that Apple fans have been waiting for
A few issues
It’s not that the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is a bad machine — I’ve worked on it, traveled with it, and generally used it heavily, as I expected when I purchased it.
But I shouldn’t have to deal with daily annoyances on what is a premium laptop.
Let’s start with the Touch Bar.
I dislike it. I wish it weren’t on my laptop. I frequently control iTunes through the function keys, and the touchscreen simply doesn’t provide the same feedback as a button. I hit mute all the time when I’m in meetings to make sure my music doesn’t start playing and embarrass me. These are buttons I press perhaps 30 times a day or more.
It’s also really easy on the Touch Bar to accidentally activate a key, whether it’s Siri (right above backspace!) or the screen brightness. It also frustrated me that I have to look at the Touch Bar to determine what I’m doing, because by default, it changes from app to app. There’s a setting that basically turns it into the old keys, but even then, it’s just a less effective version of what I had on my laptop in 2011.
The MacBook Pro with Touch Bar also has disappointing battery life — about four hours, in my experience. It’s bad enough that when working in the field and covering events like Apple’s iPhone launch, I frequently need to plug-in before the day is done. My 2011 MacBook Air had better battery life.
One place where that energy is going is heat: My MacBook Pro with Touch Bar gets extremely hot. It’s too hot to use on my lap or in bed. I’ve worried that it’s too hot to put directly on my dining room table.
Finally, my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has the “sticky key” problem that’s led to a slew of stories and even class-action lawsuits. The “1” key sticks and sometimes types two 1’s when I only mean to press it once. The spacebar sometimes doesn’t register.
It’s a problem. Apple says it will fix the sticky keys free-of-charge, but that’s time and effort I’ll need to spend.
But the MacBook Air solves all these problems
Enter the new MacBook Air, which went on sale this past week. It appears to be the device that I wanted last year, when I bought my MacBook Pro.
For example, although it has Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner — a nice feature — it doesn’t have the Touch Bar, bringing back my beloved media controls and escape key.
In terms of battery life, Apple says the MacBook Air can get up to 12 hours on a single charge. That might be optimistic, given that Apple boasts 10 hours for the model I have that usually runs out of battery in half the time, but it’s a step in the right direction.
And it has an improved keyboard that should address the sticky key issues I’ve experienced. Apple even highlighted it at its launch event in Brooklyn. “The new MacBook Air has our latest-generation keyboard with keys that offer four times the stability over the previous generation, creating a modern keyboard with a more precise and responsive typing experience,” an Apple official said at the launch.
A teardown from iFixit shows that these keys have a plastic piece inside the keys that should cut down on crumbs and other debris getting inside the keys.
While the price — starting at $1199 — isn’t that far off from what I paid for mine, especially after upgrading the storage and RAM, it’s hard to not feel buyer’s remorse.
The MacBook Air does still have some shortcomings compares to the Pro — it has a less powerful Intel chip, for example. But I don’t really need massive processor power.
Of course, it’s not Apple’s fault that every year it comes out with new computers that are better than the last year’s models. That’s how the business works.
But I think a little bit of my annoyance is due to the fact that all of these changes could’ve been made in 2017. People were complaining about these issues with the MacBook Pro back then. Apple never said it was preparing a new computer that addressed the issues — it never talks about upcoming products.
Which left me in a sticky situation in the summer of 2017. It wasn’t the right time to buy Apple’s best 13-inch laptop, as it turns out the next year’s model ended up being what I wanted.
While it’s great that Apple has fixed many consumer complaints with its main laptop line, it highlights that computer purchases are big items that people plan to use for years, unlike phones, which have a two to three year lifespan. And people who end up buying lemons are stuck with them for a long time.
People who now buy the new MacBook Air seem happy, and are likely to say they’re satisfied with their purchase. But by not having a reliable release schedule and a roadmap for future updates, there’s a chance that some people — like me — will end up in a generation of customers who are stuck with a laptop they’re not completely happy with.

Tech: UN expert: San Francisco’s homelessness crisis is a human rights violation and suggests...

After calling San Francisco’s homelessness crisis a human rights violation, UN expert Leilani Farha said it represented unsurpassed cruelty.
Conditions for homeless residents in San Francisco are among the worst in the world, with many living in crowded camps filled with trash, feces, and discarded needles.
In September, United Nations Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha released a report calling the crisis a “human rights violation.”
Business Insider spoke with Farha about the root causes of homelessness — and what she sees as the most viable solutions.
Farha doubled down on her previous comments, arguing that San Francisco’s homelessness crisis suggests a “cruelty that is unsurpassed.”
When Leilani Farha paid a visit to San Francisco in January, she knew the grim reputation of the city’s homeless encampments. In her four years as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, Farha has visited the slums of Mumbai, Delhi, Mexico City, Jarkarta, and Manila. The crisis in San Francisco, she said, is comparable to these conditions.
While New York City and Los Angeles have the highest numbers of homeless people in the US, San Francisco has the highest rate of street homelessness nationwide. On any given night, more than 4,300 citizens sleep without a roof over their heads.
But not even this knowledge could prepare Farha for what she witnessed in January.
In the city’s core, homeless residents were denied basic access to water, toilets, and sanitation facilities. There were piles of trash and scattered feces on the ground. In the neighboring camps in Oakland, rats dug through the mud and families huddled outside in the cold. The experience, she said, shook her to her core.
“The idea that a government would deny people those services … when they have nowhere else to go suggests a kind of cruelty that is unsurpassed,” Farha told Business Insider. “It’s an attempt to erase people. Worse than erase — I can only use the word annihilate. It is a denial of someone’s humanity.”
The visit led to a report in which she described San Francisco’s crisis as a human rights violation. The language may sound grave — but so is the crisis.
San Francisco’s homeless are often victims of hard times
At one point on her trip, Farha encountered a young man living underneath a highway underpass, cooking quesadillas on a small stove with an open flame.
Read more: UN report: San Francisco’s ‘cruel and inhuman’ homelessness crisis is a human rights violation
“The last time I had seen someone cooking on the sidewalk like that was in India, with the pavement dwellers there, and here I am in San Francisco in a state with the sixth largest GDP in the world,” said Farha.
She asked the man about how he came to be homeless, and found that he had traveled from the Midwest after his mother died and his family broke down.
“I think he was in the midst of developing a psychosocial disability from the trauma of being on the streets,” she said.
While many homeless residents in California are native to the area, the man’s story is relatively common. Farha said most of the homeless residents she met in San Francisco were victims of hard times.
“They were working and then their apartment building got sold to someone, the investor raised the rents, the person couldn’t afford it anymore, they couch surfed for a while, and then they hit the street,” she said.
Her comments echo the understanding among homeless residents and advocacy organizations like the National Coalition for the Homeless, which attributes homelessness to “a complex set of circumstances that require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs.”
A crisis of open air drug markets, discarded needles, and poop piles
San Francisco’s crisis of open air drug markets, discarded needles, and piles of poop on the sidewalk dates back to the nation’s neo-liberal housing policies in the 1980s, according to Farha.
These policies allowed the private sector to wrest control of investments in the affordable housing market, while the government slowly retreated. In 1986, President Reagan signed a housing tax credit that gave big corporations more oversight over low-income housing. By the 2000s, companies were selling off social housing — dubbed “housing of last resort” — for major profits.
“It’s very hard for a city to compete against a private equity firm in terms of buying up land,” Farha said. “Private equity firms have such a huge amount of capital at their disposal. They call them vultures for a reason. They can go in and use their power and wealth and buy up a huge amount of property very quickly.”
After the global financial crisis in 2008, firms like Blackstone and Goldman Sachs began purchasing single-family dwellings and charging high rents, rendering them unaffordable for most residents. These properties were then bundled together so that shareholders effectively became landlords.
In the current market, investors in cities across the country frequently buy units and flip them into short-term rentals on services like HomeAway and Airbnb. All the while, the world’s wealthy billionaires are scooping up luxury apartments, creating a demand for high-end real estate.
To make sense of the San Francisco crisis, Farha has had to sift through this winding history. “I’ve had to get my head around all this stuff just to understand homelessness,” she said.
Resident blame tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook
Many residents have been quick to blame San Francisco’s housing crisis on major tech companies like Google, Intel, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. As early as 2013, San Franciscans took to protesting the private buses that shuttle Google workers from their homes in the city to the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
The protestors have even come up with a name for the massive influx of high-tech firms: “techsploitation.” In May, protestors in the Mission District — home to a number of the city’s homeless residents — stood outside chanting the phrase, “Sweep tech not tents.”
Though Farha acknowledges the stark contrast between the city’s multi-billion-dollar tech firms and residents sleeping on the streets, she doesn’t think techies are exclusively to blame.
“I absolutely do not want to only point the finger at the big tech firms,” she said. “I think they actually come to the table late on this.”
Even so, she said, companies with massive amounts of wealth have a responsibility to share it.
In early November, Farha praised Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff’s decision to support Proposition C, a controversial ballot measure in San Francisco that will tax the city’s largest corporations to fund services for the homeless. The measure passed on Tuesday, but was just shy of a two-thirds majority, meaning it could be stalled by legal proceedings for years to come.
In a New York Times editorial, Benioff said homelessness was an even bigger threat to his business than a “small tax” because “companies can truly thrive only when our communities succeed as well.”
Housing is a human right
At least one key player in California has taken note of Farha’s concerns. After releasing her report in September, Farha received a call from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who wanted to start a dialogue about addressing the Bay Area homelessness crisis.
Despite the complicated nature of the issue, Farha isn’t short on solutions. But first, she said, people have to understand that housing isn’t a commodity — it’s a human right.
“No international human rights treaty codifies the right to gold, but several codify the right to housing,” said Farha. “That’s because housing goes to the core of what it means to live in dignity. You can’t live in dignity without decent housing.”
Under international human rights law, governments are required “to apply the maximum of available resources to upgrading informal settlements” like slums, shanty towns, and homeless encampments.
For Farha, these resources include taxes like Proposition C that go toward identifying and addressing the root causes of homelessness. It also means getting rid of forced evictions from homeless camps, adopting inclusionary zoning laws, and offering skills training programs for homeless residents. In the past, Farha has also criticized laws that prohibit the homeless from living out of their vehicles.
“It’s not to say that we want to bring down capitalism,” Farha said. Instead, she said, the human rights obligation lies with the government, which is responsible for regulating private actors.
One of her dreams as Special Rapporteur is to get people to understand the role of government in homelessness.
If a person is walking along the street and sees someone homeless, it’s okay to think whatever you want, she said. “But also think, ‘That homeless person represents my government’s failure to implement the right to adequate housing.

Tech: A San Francisco based company has made trading cards of Silicon Valley’s top...

TouchBase has released collectible trading cards sporting Silicon Valley’s top investors and advisors. A pack of five cards goes for $59.99.
TouchBase has released collectible trading cards featuring Silicon Valley’s top investors and advisors.
Cards include notable investors like Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham and Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen.
The cards include stats for each investor, like their total number of investments and number of exits.
A pack of five cards goes for $59.99.
Ever think you’d hear someone say: “I’ll trade you a Paul Graham for a Marc Andreessen?”
A San Francisco company is hoping that the tech industry’s biggest VC dealmakers have attained the same kind of celebrity status that has driven kids to trade baseball cards for generations.
New collectible trading cards, created by a company called TouchBase, feature Silicon Valley’s top investors and advisors, including Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham, Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen, Benchmark general partner Bill Gurley, and Mary Meeker, formerly a partner at Kleiner Perkins.
Read more: Famed tech investor Mary Meeker is looking to raise about $1.25 billion for a new growth fund
The cards include stats for each investor, like their total number of investments and number of exits.
They’re also not cheap. A pack of five cards goes for $59.99.
But, as TouchBase mentions on their website, “the VCs featured have had multiple exits, but are on their way to more. This makes their cards highly collectible.”
Some of the rarest VC cards include Don Valentine (Sequoia, an investor in Atari), Mike Markkula (Angel, an investor in Apple), and Jenny Lee (GGV, an investor in Alibaba). A recent Boing Boing report showed one lucky collector scored a Sam Altman in their pack.
A TouchBase spokesperson wouldn’t confirm how many different VC cards exist today, but said it’s “always creating new series.” In fact, on the company’s website, visitors can suggest new investors or founders that they’d like to see added to the collection.
To view the entire collection, TouchBase is offering a limited number of private showings in their San Francisco office.
Packs will start shipping in November — right in time for the holidays.

Tech: Here are the 10 tech gadgets you should buy this holiday season, according...

Oprah’s Favorite Things includes a range of tech products, like the Amazon Echo Spot, the Apple iPhone XR, and a light-up bike helmet. It’s almost time to start shopping for holiday tech gifts, but don’t worry — Oprah has you covered.
The mogul released her annual list of “favorite things” on Wednesday, and it includes a bevy of very giftable items, from clothes to cook wear to gifts for you pet — and even tech gadgets.
Oprah’s list includes a few flagship products that were released in 2018, like the iPhone XR and the Apple Watch Series 4. But it also includes a few items you may not have otherwise come across, like a panic button that attaches to your smartphone.
Here are the 10 tech gadgets Oprah recommends for 2018:
10. Katana Safety Arc
The Katana Safety Arc is a personal alarm system that attaches to your smartphone. It comes equipped with two alarms: one is an audible siren, and the other is a silent alert button. The alerts will then bypass your lock screen and contact Katana’s subscription service, which will in turn alert the police or your emergency contacts. The device costs $100, comes in 10 colors, and is available on Amazon.
9. Ricoh Theta SC 360 camera
Ricoh’s Theta camera takes 360-degree photos and videos, works with both Android and iOS devices, and has an optional weatherproof case for shooting outdoors. Oprah recommends trying it in “stadiums, gymnasiums, or any other vast space” to get the full effect. The camera costs $179.95 right now and is available on Amazon.
8. Lumos smart bike helmet
The Lumos smart bike helmet is intended to make bikers more visible on the road. It’s outfitted with LED lights: 10 on the front, 38 on the back, and 11 for both turn signals. Plus, it comes with a remote for your handlebars that lets you safely turn on your turn signal. Lumos says the battery will last about six hours on flashing mode and three hours on solid mode. The helmet costs $179 and is available on Amazon.
7. RapidX X5 car charger
This $25 car charger can charge five devices simultaneously via USB and plugs into your car’s outlet or cigarette lighter. It’s also capable of fast charging, if your device supports the appropriate standard. It’s available on Amazon for $22.53 right now.
6. Apple Watch Series 4
Leave it to Oprah to pick the best-looking and most expensive new Apple Watch you can buy: the Apple Watch Series 4 in gold stainless steel with a gold Milanese Loop. The new Apple Watch has a bigger screen, a thinner body, and new health features like an ECG app that can take basic heart readings that can alert you that you should consult a doctor. The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399, but Oprah’s choice is much pricier: it starts at $799 and can cost as much as $849.
5. Apple AirPods
Apple’s AirPods were introduced two years ago, but they still made Oprah’s 2018 list. The wireless buds look a lot like the EarPods that come with every iPhone purchase, but they’re entirely cordless. They pair with devices like iPhones, iPads, and even the Apple TV, and they charge up inside their case. AirPods cost $159 and are available at Apple stores and on Apple’s website.
4. Samsung Q7FN QLED TV
Samsung introduced a new TV technology in 2018: QLED displays. The “Q” stands for “quantum dots,” and the promise this new technology brings is to take the best of both LCD and OLED and put them together. Oprah recommends Samsung’s Q7FN TV because it’s “eye-poppingly pristine.” Plus, it mounts flush to the wall and uses a single cable. The TV starts at $1,300 right now and is available through Samsung’s website.
3. iPhone XR
The iPhone XR is one of three new phones from Apple, alongside its sister devices, iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max. The iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch LCD screen, a single-lens camera that can still do portrait mode, and comes in come in six colors (black, white, red, yellow, coral, and blue) and three storage sizes (64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB). Oprah says that “Apple has really outdone itself with the new XR.” The iPhone XR starts at $749 and is available to buy at Apple stores and on Apple’s website.
2. Courant wireless charging accessory tray
If you have a smartphone from the last year or so, chances are that it supports wireless charging. But phones don’t usually come with wireless chargers, so you’ll have to invest in one yourself. That’s where the Courant wireless charging accessory tray comes in: it’s a leather-bound tray that has a Qi wireless charging pad built in. The other side of the tray is a good spot for your keys, wallet, headphones, or jewelry. Oprah says that “one of these leather-bound miracle devices in white has my name all over it,” and we have to agree — the white version is gorgeous. You can buy one in black, ash, or bone colors for $175 on Amazon.
1. Echo Spot
Amazon’s Echo Spot, which was introduced in September of last year, is a tiny, $129 gadget with a 2.5-inch touchscreen, a camera, and Amazon’s smart assistant, Alexa, built in. It can make video calls, play music and music videos, make visual lists and reminders, and it can work as a smart alarm clock. Oprah calls it “wonderfully more compact” than its larger Echo siblings. You can buy the Echo Spot for $100 on Amazon right now.

Tech: 6 smartphone features that would be great on laptops

Smartphones are getting all the good stuff.
Laptops should be more like smartphones, at least when it comes to certain features.
It seems that smartphones are getting all the innovations and goodies while laptop design and features have remained fairly stagnant over the last few years. It’s understandable, as mobile devices are incredibly important, but surely laptops aren’t less important, are they?
Check out the five smartphone features I’d love to see in laptops:
The OLED displays of top smartphones.
With richer colors and supreme contrast, OLED displays on smartphones not only make operating systems, apps, and content look better than traditional LCD displays, they’re also more power efficient, too. One of the ways OLED displays are more efficient is that pixels can essentially turn themselves off when displaying the color black, and they don’t shine as much as LCD displays when displaying certain colors and certain brightnesses. That power efficiency can often lead to better battery life. With that in mind, OLED displays seem like a no-brainer for laptops, but most laptop makers still use LCD displays. There are some laptops that come with OLED displays, but not many. One reason why more laptops don’t come with OLED displays is cost, as devices with OLED displays tend to be more expensive. Still, cost can be mitigated by manufacturing advances and production volume, and it doesn’t look like much has been done to mitigate the cost of OLED for laptops — yet.
Facial recognition to unlock Mac laptops.
Owners of some Windows 10 laptops can use the Windows Hello facial-recognition feature to unlock their devices by simply sitting in front of their laptops. Despite Apple’s advanced Face ID facial recognition on its latest iPhones, facial recognition hasn’t made its way to Apple’s laptops yet. Some laptops, like the new MacBook Air, come with fingerprint scanners, which is a decent alternative. But nothing beats just existing in front of your laptop to unlock it.
Wireless charging.
I’m not the biggest advocate of wireless charging for mobile devices, but wireless charging for laptops could make more sense seeing as laptops are less “mobile” than mobile devices. Indeed, if your laptop usually rests on a desk all day, you could constantly keep it topped up. And it can keep charging while you’re using it, unlike smartphones that you need to pick up from wireless charging pads to use. Wireless charging is basically the same thing as plugging in a charger into a laptop, just without the whole plugging in part. You could just set down your laptop on a desk with a wireless charging pad and it’ll charge and power itself without any further interaction. At this stage, it looks like the technology for laptop wireless charging is still in its nascence. Dell announced a laptop in 2017 that came with wireless charging, but the feature hasn’t really taken off so far, nor is it widely available.
A switch like the iPhone’s silent-switch, but for a laptop’s camera and microphone.
Judging by how many stickers and cheap plastic accessories I see on laptop cameras, the paranoia that a hacker can access your camera without you knowing is real. Stickers are fine, and some laptops even have sliding covers to blur out the camera, but these are inelegant and primitive solutions. As for eavesdroppers activating your microphones without your knowledge, few laptop makers have done anything about it. Apple’s solution in its latest MacBook Pros and MacBook Air physically disconnects the microphone when you close your laptop’s lid. It’s a step forward, but not a complete solution, as eavesdroppers can still activate compromised microphones when the lid is open. It’s a wonder why laptop designers haven’t adopted a small physical switch that lets you physically disconnect the camera and microphone. I’m not asking for anything crazy, but perhaps something small, tasteful, and unobtrusive like the notification-silent switch on the iPhone. That way, you’ll know that you camera and microphone are totally disabled and can’t be accessed. And when you need your camera or microphone, just flick the switch again to re-enable them.
Liquid resistance.
Laptops succumb to liquid damage far too often. If it’s not a problem for smartphones anymore, it shouldn’t be a problem for laptops, where cups of coffee and other drinks are often in close proximity. There’s certainly a challenge for laptop makers to add water resistance. Laptops need relatively large open ports, usually on the bottom or lower edges, to allow fresh air into the enclosure to cool down the components inside. It just so happens those air ports are exactly where liquid is likely to end up after a spill. And then, of course, there’s the physical keyboard — something most modern smartphones don’t have — with the spaces around each key a liability when liquid is poured on the surface.
Ultra-thin bezels.
Dell’s XPS laptops and Huawei’s MateBook X Pro have the thinnest bezels on laptops, but thin bezels still aren’t the standard yet like they are on high-end smartphones. With thinner bezels, laptops could get the same benefits as smartphones, like bigger screens in smaller sizes, and a premium modern look that makes bezels look dated. Are there other smartphone features — or any other features, for that matter — you’d like to see on a laptop? Get in touch at

Techpoint Innovation Tour 2018 Day 6: Discovery and congregation in Ife

It’s the 6th day and the team is still in OAU. Here are interesting discoveries and highlights for the day.

Tech: Apple announces hardware issues with its iPhone X and 13-inch MacBook Pro

On Friday, Apple announced that two of its products — the iPhone X and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) — have known hardware issues.
On Friday, Apple announced that two of its products — the iPhone X and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) — have known hardware issues.
Apple said that some iPhone X screens do not respond or intermittently respond to touch.
For the 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple said some devices might have an issue that causes data loss or drive failure.
Customers with eligible devices can have both issues fixed for free at an Apple retail store or with an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
On Friday, Apple announced that two of its products — the iPhone X and the 13-inch MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) — have known hardware issues. Bloomberg first reported on these issues after being posted on Apple’s support pages on Friday.
Apple said that on some iPhone X devices, display screens are experiencing touch issues. Those issues include:
The screen, or part of the screen, does not respond or responds intermittently to a user’s touch.
The screen reacts even when a user hasn’t touched it.
The company said users with eligible iPhone X devices can have their display modules replaced for free at one of its retail stores or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
According to the Bloomberg report, iPhone X users had been complaining about touch issues online for months. Also, interestingly, the iPhone X was on the market for less than one year after being discontinued in September following the release of the iPhone XS and iPhone XR.
A similar touchscreen issue crept up in 2016 with the iPhone 6 Plus. To repair the problem back then, however, Apple charged it’s customers $149.
Read more:Apple just announced it will fix iPhones with Touch Disease for $149
Apple also confirmed that its 13-inch MacBook Pro (non Touch Bar) sold between June 2017 and June 2018 might have an issue that causes data loss or drive failure.
The company said affected laptops could be serviced at one of its retail locations or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for free as well. To know if your MacBook Pro needs to be serviced, you’ll need to enter your device’s serial number on Apple’s support page.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Tech: CEO Jeff Lawson says Twilio is committing $1M to homelessness programs after Prop...

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson announced that his company will commit $1 million to support homelessness programs.
Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson announced that his company will commit $1 million to support homelessness programs.
This comes after 60 percent voted “yes” to San Francisco’s homelessness measure “Prop C” on Tuesday, but this measure, which would bring the city $300 million in funding for homelessness programs, is likely to face legal disputes that could keep the funding on reserve for years.
Twilio previously did not take a position on Prop C, but Lawson says Prop C should motivate San Francisco business leaders to take action on homelessness.
After San Franciscans voted “yes” on the hotly debated homelessness measure called “Prop C,” Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson announced that his company will commit $1 million to support homelessness programs.
Leading up to the election, the cloud communications company did not take a position on Proposition C. However, other tech giants in the city were especially vocal — notably Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff who advocated for Prop C, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, who spoke out against it.
“As we thought about it, there were so much attack, so much personal attacks,” Lawson told Business Insider. “To me, the biggest positive outcome [of Prop C] is kicking action on homelessness to the top of the leaders of the city’s mind. Obviously we see the problem but there wasn’t a lot of action on it.”
Lawson announced Twilio’s commitment Thursday night at an event where he was honored as one of San Francisco Business Times’ Most Admired CEOs. Earlier in the week, Lawson watched Twilio’s stock soar 35% after delivering blockbuster quarterly financial results.
On Tuesday night, Prop C won 60 percent among San Francisco voters. But the measure is likely to face legal challenges in the coming months, so Lawson says he wants to make help contribute to the cause right now.
“Let’s get it done,” Lawson said. “Our thinking is how can we start funding initiatives that get the process for Prop C started? If there’s a challenge before funds can be deployed, why don’t we start now?”
“This issue tore apart our cities”
Twilio didn’t take a position on Prop C ahead of the election because it didn’t “feel like our voice would add anything.” But now that it’s passed and with legal challenges likely to come, business leaders can work on tackling this problem now, Lawson says.
Right now, there’s a legal dispute in the city on a measure to raise taxes on commercial rents to pay for child care services and early education, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A coalition of commercial property owners sued the city in August, saying that a simple majority vote is not enough to pass this measure and it violates state law — instead, it should be a two-thirds majority, they said.
This could also potentially affect Prop C, so the city won’t spend the money until this legal dispute is resolved. The massive flow of cash from this measure — $300 million a year — for homelessness programs may sit on reserve for years.
Read more: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on his Twitter beef with Jack Dorsey: You’re either ‘for the homeless’ or ‘you’re for yourself’
Lawson hopes to get other business leaders on board.
“After this election, we’ve come together to say we’re going to address the homelessness crisis,” Lawson told Business Insider. “As I was thinking about it, this issue tore apart our cities in a lot of ways. This was a difficult proposition. It’s time to come together.”
Although the company hasn’t decided exactly where the donation will go,, Twilio’s social impact arm, is currently evaluating options and will provide updates in the following weeks.
“We’ve seen several organizations in San Francisco fighting homelessness,” Erin Reilly, VP of Social Impact at Twilio, told Business Insider. “We are looking at how we can support with technology, funding, and time and help folks who live in the city. Now is the time we’re coming together to fight homelessness.”
Below is Lawson’s Tweet about Twilio’s commitment.

Tech: Malibu is in flames as two wildfires spread through southern California — here’s...

Celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Guillermo del Toro, and Khloe Kardashian all had to leave home. The fire is spreading rapidly, and is 0% contained.
Flames are racing along the southern California coastline as firefighters work to contain the fast-moving Woolsey Fire. The blaze has already scorched 14,000 acres on the outskirts of Los Angeles, and the nearby Hill Fire has charred 6,100 acres in Ventura County.
They’re just two of thousands of California wildfires recorded this year. Meanwhile, to the north, the Camp Fire has killed five people and leveled the entire town of Paradise.
Both of the LA-area fires started Thursday afternoon, and though no deaths have been reported, many people have had to leave behind their beloved pets and homes and flee.
Here’s a glimpse at the devastation in southern California so far.
The beach city of Malibu is home to about 13,000 people. On Friday, as flames from the Woolsey Fire raced towards the coast, the entire town was forced to evacuate.
Shortly after noon on Friday, the City of Malibu said on its website that the “fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu. All residents must evacuate immediately.”
Source: Business Insider
Stars including Alyssa Milano, Melissa Etheridge, director Guillermo del Toro, and the Kardashian sisters all had to leave their homes in the area.
Milano said she packed up her “kids, dogs, computer,” and Doc Marten boots and headed for shelter. Sources: @Alyssa_Milano, @RealGDT, Business Insider, @metheridge
More than 20,000 structures have burned in the Woolsey Fire, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. Nearly 78,000 people have evacuated.
Source: VCFD PIO
As of 1 p.m. on Friday, the Woolsey Fire was 0% contained.
Firefighters went door to door urging people in the Malibu area to evacuate via the Pacific Coast Highway, which was turned into a 4-lane one-way road to safety.
Nearby, in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, the National Park Service said that “Western Town,” a movie set used in the popular show Westworld, had burned to the ground.
Source: Twitter
On its website, LA County says there’s no such thing as a wildfire season anymore — “fire season is now year-round.”
Source: LA County
To the north, meanwhile, residents of Paradise, California ran for their lives on foot and packed into cars to escape the Camp Fire. Five people burned to death in their cars.
Source: Business Insider
These fires are part of a trend: Wildfires are getting bigger and stronger as the planet heats up. The worst blaze in California history happened earlier this year, when the Mendocino Complex fire burned down more than 410,000 acres.

Tech: Facebook just launched a standalone video app called Lasso and it’s basically the...

On Friday, Facebook released a direct competitor to TikTok, called Lasso. Facebook’s new, standalone app is a direct target at the growing user base of TikTok, which in September was the most downloaded social app in the US.
On Friday, Facebook released a direct competitor to TikTok, called Lasso.
Lasso is a social video app that caps posts to 15-seconds and lets creators add their favorite songs to play in the background.
The features and design of Lasso are almost identical to TikTok.
Facebook’s new, standalone app is a direct target at the growing user base of TikTok, which in September was the most downloaded social app in the US.
Facebook has cloned another popular social app. And it’s called Lasso.
The world’s largest social network is essentially re-creating its own version of TikTok, the 15-second video app that’s become increasingly popular in the US. In September, TikTok was the most downloaded social app in the US.
Read more: A viral video app you’ve probably never heard of had more downloads in September than Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat
Facebook’s Lasso functions almost exactly the same as TikTok. Videos are capped at 15 seconds, and users can add their favorite tunes to play in the background. Facebook told Business Insider that users will be able to choose from millions of songs in its licensed catalog.
New videos are seemingly endless — just swipe up for more content to be served your way. As The Atlantic’s Tayor Lorenz pointed out on Twitter, it appears that Facebook seeded content on Lasso with videos that were already on TikTok.
Reports of Lasso’s creation were leaked by TechCrunch two weeks ago.
“It’s basically TikTok/Musically,” a source told TechCrunch in the report. “It’s full-screen, built for teens, fun and funny and focused on creation.”
The rollout of Lasso on Friday was quiet, with no official statement from the company on its website. When asked about the new release by Business Insider, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from people and creators.”
Though Facebook seems to be playing it cool with the Lasso release, the company knows what’s at stake. TikTok’s fun layout and interactions have attracted the attention of a young demographic and as of June, the company said it had 500 million users worldwide.
Facebook is no stranger to cloning an app to kick out an incumbent.
Instagram Stories notoriously copied the ephemeral nature of Snapchat, and by June of this year, it had twice as many users (400 million). Interestingly, Facebook had launched its original Snapchat killer — a standalone app called Slingshot — in June of 2014. By December 2015, however, Slingshot was no longer available in the App Store.
With the release of Lasso, the short-form video space is heating up. Just yesterday, Vine founder, Dom Hofmann, announced that his new 6.5-second looping video platform, byte, will launch in spring 2019.

Tech: Amazon and Microsoft are fighting for a $10 billion Pentagon contract — and...

As Amazon races for a $10 billion defense contract, its likely move near DC is “well timed.” Here’s why Microsoft and Amazon investors are taking note
Crystal City, Virginia, is a likely contender for Amazon to build its second headquarters HQ2, and the fact that it’s near Washington, D.C. is “well timed” as Amazon competes for a massive $10 billion cloud contract with the Pentagon, analysts say.
Still, both Amazon and Microsoft investors should be paying attention, as Microsoft also has a strong chance in winning the contract.
There’s an estimated $20 billion in cloud spending up for grabs from the government, and whoever wins the contract will also likely become the biggest player in the cloud business.
“I don’t think the timing of Amazon moving its headquarters near D.C. is coincidental,” an analyst told Business Insider.
Crystal City, Virginia has emerged as one of the top contenders for the site of Amazon’s so-called HQ2 headquarters— and now that Amazon is competing for a $10 billion cloud contract with the Department of Defense, it’s a “well timed move,” analysts say.
The DoD contract, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, is a 10-year deal that will be awarded to a single company to move the Pentagon’s data onto a cloud. Bids for this massive contract closed in October, but now that bids are being reviewed, investors in Microsoft and Amazon should pay attention, say analysts at financial firm Wedbush Securities.
“Let’s just put it this way. I don’t think the timing of Amazon moving its headquarters near D.C. is coincidental,” Daniel Ives, Managing Director of Equity Research at Wedbush Securities, told Business Insider.
It’s really a two-horse race for the contract, and while Amazon has been seen as the frontrunner, Microsoft has put in significant effort in the past year to narrow the race. And the implications go beyond the deal itself — it could completely transform the cloud industry, especially if Microsoft wins. An award is expected in April 2019.
This is the biggest government cloud deal ever, but winning JEDI has a domino effect. Whoever wins this contract will be well-positioned to win future government contracts — analysts reckon that there’s $20 billion in cloud spending up for grabs from the government.
Plus, there’s a stamp of credibility — it would be hard for enterprise customers to turn down a cloud company that was selected by the federal government itself.
“Many investors have underappreciated the ripple effect of whoever gets JEDI,” Ives said. “Whoever gets JEDI, it’s not just about the $10 billion over the last decade. There would not be a better mark of credibility than to get this deal. Investors are trying to understand, is it just an Amazon, or does Microsoft have a shot to win JEDI from the grips of [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos?”
Don’t expect Jeff Bezos and Donald Trump to go on vacation together
That could be why Amazon is considering moving its headquarters to Virginia, analysts say. With a base of operations near Washington, D.C., Amazon could boost its presence in federal circles.
Microsoft has an office in Washington, D.C. as well, but if Amazon builds HQ2 in Crystal City, its massive campus with 25,000 employees would easily dwarf Microsoft.
“As Amazon looks to have their employees in the shadow of the Pentagon, JEDI is a big component of how they will build out their presence within the beltway,” Ives said. “To have a headquarters in and around the beltway shows that Amazon is significantly focused on their federal presence.”
Read more: As bidding closes, Amazon’s cloud is the favorite to win a $10 billion defense deal. Here’s why everybody else is so mad about it
Still, Microsoft has invested significant amounts of money, time and effort into its government cloud, certifications, and security for classified documents. If Microsoft wins, it would be a “crowning achievement” for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“It would have a significant ripple effect for cloud,” Ives said. “With DOD going to cloud with Microsoft, it’s hard to argue with that sales pitch.”
And politics could be a small factor, too. It’s no secret that President Donald Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos aren’t on the best terms, so in addition to investment in its Azure government cloud, this is where Microsoft could swoop in.
And unlike the hesitation from Google to work with the military, Microsoft is all in, saying it will sell artificial intelligence technologies to the Pentagon.
“It’s no secret about Trump and Bezos. I don’t expect them to be going on vacation together,” Ives said. “For Bezos and Amazon to own the cloud at DOD as the sole victor, within the beltway, there’s a lot of views that would not like to see Amazon as the sole winner. There’s definitely a complex political environment.”
Either way, cloud investors should keep an eye on the JEDI deal.
“For any investor in the cloud space, it should be on their radar,” Ives said. “It’s the ripple effect it could have on the cloud landscape.

Tech: The 6 biggest differences you need to know about when switching from an...

If you’re thinking about upgrading to the iPhone XS Max from an older iPhone, read this first.
Apple’s newest crop of phones is here, which means you may be thinking about finally upgrading from your older iPhone.
During the past few years, it hasn’t been easy to justify shelling out for a new phone if you’re using an iPhone 5S, 6, or 6S. The design has been similar, the camera hasn’t been a major upgrade, and the battery life hasn’t necessarily been such a major jump from older devices.
But now that the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max have arrived, it feels like time to consider a new phone, especially if you’re on an iPhone 6S or earlier.
If you haven’t bought an iPhone in the last year, however, you’re going to be in for a few major changes, especially if you opt for the extra-large iPhone XS Max, which is a pretty big departure from iPhones of years past.
Here are the six biggest things you’ll notice when making the switch:
1. The screen
The most notable thing about the iPhone XS Max is the screen — the big, beautiful screen. First and foremost, the XS Max has an OLED display, which no older iPhones have, save for the iPhone X. Blacks look blacker, whites look whiter, and the whole display is just more gorgeous and immersive than what you’re probably used to on an LCD screen. Besides being a better display, it’s going to be much bigger than what you’re used to, too. It’s the largest display of any iPhone, ever, and goes nearly edge-to-edge (save for the notch at the top, and some thin bezels along all four sides).
2. The size and weight
Beyond having a great big screen, the XS Max has a great big body, too. It’s the biggest, heaviest iPhone Apple sells, and also the largest phone it’s ever made. Here are the specs:
Height: 6.20 inches (157.5 mm)
Width: 3.05 inches (77.4 mm)
Depth: 0.30 inch (7.7 mm)
Weight: 7.34 ounces (208 grams)
Compare that to the iPhone 6, which is 5.44 inches by 2.64 inches and weighs just 4.55 ounces, and it’s pretty striking. If you’re used to your small, lightweight phone, you may be in for a bit of a shock.
3. The camera
When I compared my iPhone 6S to the iPhone 8 Plus last year, I was taken aback by how little difference there was between the two cameras, which were two generations apart. While the 8 Plus won in a few situations, there wasn’t enough of an improvement to warrant buying the new device for the camera alone. One year later, that’s no longer the case. I’ve been using the XS Max for about a week, and every time I switch back to my own phone, I’m disappointed by how my photos look. The camera isn’t as sharp and it doesn’t perform half as well in low light, and the colors look dull. Plus, my old phone can’t do things like portrait mode on both the front and rear cameras. It’s officially gotten to the point where the 6S (and, I imagine, the phones that came before it) feel outdated, camera-wise.
4. Face ID
For better or for worse, Apple abandoned Touch ID last year when it introduced the iPhone X. Now, we have Face ID instead. And Apple has rolled it out to the iPhone XS and XS Max. Face ID uses the phone’s front camera and built-in facial recognition software to unlock your phone using a quick scan of your face. It works fine, but it doesn’t work quite as well as Touch ID, at least in my tests. It’s a little slower, it doesn’t work in every lighting situation or orientation (I can’t get it to work well when I’m lying down, for example) and it tends to be a bit slower than using your fingerprint.
5. No home button
The reason there’s no Touch ID on the XS Max is because there’s no physical home button, which is where Apple placed the fingerprint sensor on past iPhones. No home button means you’re going to essentially have to re-learn how to use an iPhone when you get your new device. The gestures are completely different, and even things like the control center, the reachability feature, or taking a screenshot are accessed in new ways. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — the new gestures make using the iPhone a bit more fluid than clicking a physical button — but it will take some getting used to.
6. The design
Let’s face it: if you have an older iPhone, you don’t exactly feel like you own a premium product anymore. My 6S has an aluminum body and, while it’s nice and lightweight, it doesn’t look that nice outside of its case anymore. But when you get your hands on the iPhone XS Max, it’s going to feel like a true upgrade. It’s a truly gorgeous device, from the all-glass back to the stainless steel edges. I have the gold version right now, and it’s the best-looking phone I think I’ve ever seen. You will almost certainly be wowed.

Tech: This superfan decked out his apartment with nearly 1,000 collectible figurines

Anthony Peeples has collected nearly 1,000 Funko Pops — the popular collectible figurines of characters from comics, movies, and video games.
Funko Pops are collectible figurines of characters from almost any comic, show, movie, or video game that you can imagine. They have big bobble heads and large black eyes.
Funko Pop fan, Anthony Peeples has nearly 1,000 of these toys in his New York apartment and his collection could be worth thousands of dollars.
In the video above, Anthony shows us his collection and tells us why he loves collecting “Pops.”
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Anthony Peeples: We have between 800 and 1,000 Funko Pops, give or take. I’m Anthony Peeples. I’m a Funko Pop Collector. I’m feeling high-five fantastic, and I hope you are as well.
Narrator: Funko Pops are everywhere. They’re those small plastic figurines with giant heads and big round eyes. There are pops of pretty much every character you can think of. And fans are obsessed. The company did half a billion dollars in sales in 2017. And has already surpassed that in 2018. Anthony, who goes by the nickname GeekyPeeples, has taken his obsession to another level.
Peeples: Funko Funatics is definitely a common term that we all use to refer to ourselves.
Narrator: Anthony and his partner, Raul, have been collecting Pops since 2015. And they can be found all over their home.
Peeples: They’re displayed in all the various places that we can find room in our New York City apartment. We have one room that is our room that we’ve kind of transformed into a Pop den. My DC wall is dedicated to “Batman the Animated Series,” which was very important to me in my childhood growing up. I’m a big Marvel boy, so I collect a lot of the Marvel lines. I have one wall dedicated to Freddy Funko, the Funko mascot. The other wall is kind of, “storage.” It’s a slow process so I’m building the room up.
Narrator: His kitchen is decorated with Pops that are food related.
Peeples: A friend of mine, he actually displays his Mr. Freeze Pops in the freezer.
Narrator: And when we visited in October, his living room was decorated with Halloween-related Pops.
Peeples: So all of the Pops that are horror based, or fun, or scary. And we also have Pops displayed in our bedroom.
Narrator: Anthony keeps track of his Pops using several online apps. Which estimate that his collection could be worth thousands of dollars, based on market value. But the prices can change over time. His first Pop was a Storm figurine given to him as a gift from friends.
Peeples: And then from there, it just took fire in side of me and I just wanted to collect as many as I can. I actually still have that Storm, it’s right there on the wall. I keep it right where I can always see it.
Narrator: His collection includes many rare Pops that were released as limited editions. Including some ultra rare ones called Chase Pops.
Peeples: A Chase Pop is a Pop that you can find, kind of like the golden ticket that Willy Wonka was giving out. It’s very rare, and there’s only a certain limited amount of them. And they also have a special sticker on them. Also, if you collect comics, it’s like a variant cover.
Narrator: In 2017, he went to the grand opening of the Funko Headquarters in Washington. And got his hands on one of his most prized figurines.
Peeples: It’s the Emerald Freddy. It has the flagship sticker on it, which was also very rare. I also have another very rare Pop. The blue chrome Batman from San Diego Comic Con. I slept for four days in front of the San Diego Convention, and I ended up getting into the booth. I cried a lot because I was so happy and so excited. The chrome Batman is worth a lot of money. I’ve seen it go up right now, currently, as high on Ebay as $800.
Narrator: He and his partner also placed in a lip-syncing contest at a Funko Event. And chose two giant Robin and Joker Pops as prizes, that he estimates are now worth about $1,200 each.
Peeples: I do also have just a couple rare Proto Pops.
Narrator: These are basically prototypes of Pops before they’re massed produced. Anthony doesn’t just collect Pops, however, he also organizes events with fellow collectors, including fundraisers for charity.
Peeples: I host here in New York, periodically, events that I call Peeples Pop!Swap. Those events have been major, major moments where I’ve gotten to meet so many collectors and have so many wonderful friends because of that.
Narrator: In addition to swapping, Anthony often sells Pops to help fund his trips to various conventions around the world to buy new ones.
Peeples: Cause it’s very expensive. The expenses do mount up.
Narrator: He’s active in the official Funko Forum, a message board for fans. So he always knows where to be to get the rare Pops for cheap.
Peeples: I try to get them as close to the retail value that they come out for. Narrator: But he will occasionally have to pay upwards of $100 for some that he missed to complete his set. He has a few basic tips for Funko hunters.
Peeples: So it’s best to just be on your game. Know your information. Know where the Pop is you want. Know how much it’s going to cost. And be prepared to line up and hopefully score some wonderful Funko Pops.
Narrator: And he says he has no desire to stop collecting anytime soon.
Peeples: Whether I collect Funko Pops or not, the one thing that is a constant, is that the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve established from being in the Funko Pop community, they’re not going anywhere in my heart. I will keep in contact whether I collect Funkos or not.
And there’s a story behind each one.
Some people identify themselves as “I’m a fiend!” and they’ll be wearing the fiend patch. Or they’re a Funkero. There’s Jersey Funko and there’s Chicago Funko. So many across the country and they identify themselves in that way. But we’re all Funatics, we’re all Funko Funatics.

Tech: The hacker who targeted XBox Live and PlayStation Network is facing 10 years...

An FBI investigation into a series of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks targeting online video game services in 2013 led to a guilty plea.
In 2013, several video game companies were targeted by denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that limited access to their online services and forced them offline in some cases.
The attacks triggered an FBI investigation centered on the Twitter account @DerpTrolling, which had announced the attacks in advance.
Austin Thompson, 23-year-old, a native of Utah, pled guilty to one count of damage to a protected computer, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
A Utah-based hacker who targeted several of the big gaming networks, including PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, temporarily knocking them offline and boasting about it, is facing a 10-year jail sentence.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California announced earlier this week that Austin Thompson, 23, had entered a guilty plea for one count of damage to a protected computer following an investigation by the FBI’s San Diego field office.
Operating under the Twitter handle @DerpTrolling, Thompson made a sport of incapacitating popular online gaming networks with denial-of-service attacks when he was a teenager, between December 2013 and January 2014.
Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks intentionally flood the target’s servers with more traffic than they can handle, preventing access for regular users and possibly forcing the service offline.
The plea agreement describes how Thompson would announce the attacks in advance via the @DerpTrolling Twitter account and later share screenshots and more tweets as evidence of a successful attack.
Multiple online gaming services, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, and League of Legends were targeted by @DerpTrolling. The attacks resulted in significant downtime and delays, and the U.S Attorney reports at least $95,000 in damages as a result of Thompson’s actions.
Also read: Online scammers are bombarding young ‘Fortnite’ players with fake offers for free v-bucks
There’s still no stated motive for the DoS attacks. The DerpTrolling account seemed satisfied with disrupting online gaming and creating chaos, going so far as to take requests from followers. The U.S. Attorney’s office states that Thompson is 23-years-old, which would make him 18 at the time of the crime.
Damage to a protected computer is a federal felony charge and Thompson could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 with three years supervised release. Thompson’s sentencing is set for March 1st, 2019.

Tech: Netflix’s Oscar contender ‘Roma’ will not be shown at Alamo Drafthouse in a...

Netflix is taking its first major leap into exclusive theatrical releases of its original movies with Oscar contender, “Roma.” However, movie theaters like Alamo Drafthouse are pushing back.
The popular Alamo Drafthouse chain will not be showing Netflix’s “Roma.”
The Oscar contender will be one of the first original Netflix movies to have an exclusive theatrical run before it streams.
After weeks of negotiations between Netflix and Drafthouse to show the movie at its Brooklyn, New York location, the theater chain finally felt the streaming giant put too many “restrictions and guidelines” on them, a source close to the negotiations told Business Insider.
The movie will instead be shown at New York City’s IFC Center, and is locking other locations to show the movie across the country.
Netflix wants to keep its powerhouse directors happy going into Oscar season, but one of the first theatrical runs for its original movies with a big name helmer has hit a snag.
Alamo Drafthouse, one of the most prominent independently owned movie chains in the US, will not be showing Netflix’s Oscar contender, “Roma,” a source close to negotiations between the chain and streaming giant told Business Insider. A source close to Netflix confirmed that Alamo Drafthouse had passed on the movie.
At the end of October, Netflix began to dramatically change course on how it released Oscar-contending movies. Reports surfaced that for the first time Netflix would stop its “day-and-date” model — in which the movie premieres in theaters and on Netflix the same day — and give exclusive theatrical runs of around 1-3 weeks for not just Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” but two other of its anticipated movies, the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” and Susanne Bier’s “Bird Box” starring Sandra Bullock.
Alamo Drafthouse was one of the reported chains in the mix to show “Roma.” But Netflix’s terms on how the movie would be released, and how often, led to the popular chain passing on the anticipated title, according to the source.
While “Buster Scruggs” and “Bird Box” are reportedly getting around one-week runs at select theaters before they are available to stream on Netflix, the company wants to pull out all the stops for “Roma,” which out of the three has the best chance to win Oscars in the major categories, including best picture.
Along with around a 3-4 week run for the movie, Netflix is specifically looking for theaters that can show the movie with Dolby Atmos sound or in 70mm.
As even four weeks is shorter than the traditional 90-day window that the major chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark want movies to be shown in theaters, Netflix knows it cannot go to them. That leaves the streaming giant to depend on the mid-level chains and independently owned arthouses.
Alamo Drafthouse and Netflix had been in discussions for weeks about showing “Roma,” specifically at the chain’s Brooklyn, New York location, which could show the movie in 70mm. It’s one of the only theaters in the city that can pull that off.
Netflix was stringent on its terms, according to the source, which included that “Roma” have a full four-week run with all the screenings show in 70mm. The company also planned to four-wall the theaters, meaning Netflix would be renting the theater from Drafthouse. (It plans to do this at all the locations where the movies will be played.) This is an unconventional move in the industry, where typically the movie theater splits the box office with the distributor.
Though Drafthouse was willing to show “Roma” at its Brooklyn location, it does not four-wall. Also, the 70mm projector at the location is in its biggest auditorium, meaning that for four weeks the movie would take up its prime space, with Drafthouse unable to schedule in any other titles. That’s a tough ask in a time of year when every weekend a new big movie is about to hit theaters.
“Just way too many restrictions and guidelines,” the source told Business Insider.
“Roma” will now be screened in New York at Manhattan’s IFC Center beginning November 21, IFC confirmed to Business Insider. That theater does not have capabilities to show the movie in 70mm.
Alamo Drafthouse is not the only theater, outside of the majors, to pass on the Netflix offer. Business Insider has reached out to multiple arthouses that said they eventually passed on showing “Roma” due to the terms of Netflix. These include some that would have gotten the movie following its exclusive theatrical run, after the movie began streaming on Netflix December 14.
“Terms are not too high, but higher than it should be for a movie that’s streaming at the same time,” one theater owner told Business Insider.
Other theaters told Business Insider they would love to show the movie but don’t have a venue that can accommodate Netflix’s terms.
“It’s complicated by Netflix’s insistence that theaters have Dolby Atmos, an extremely expensive sound system that very few theaters can afford,” another theater owner said.