Apple said to sell Macs powered by in-house ARM-based chips as early as 2021 – TechCrunch

Apple’s long-rumored Mac ARM chip transition could happen as early as next year, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The report says that Apple is currently working on three Mac processors based on the design of the A14 system-on-a-chip that will power the next-generation iPhone. The first of the Mac versions will greatly exceed the speed of the iPhone and iPad processors, according to the report’s sources.

Already, Apple’s A-series line of ARM-based chips for iPhones and iPads have been steadily improving, to the point where their performance in benchmark tests regularly exceeds that of Intel processors used currently in Apple’s Mac line. As a result, and because Intel’s chip development has encountered a few setbacks and slowdowns in recent generations, rumors that Apple would move to using its own ARM-based designs have multiplied over the past few years.

Bloomberg says that “at least one Mac” powered by Apple’s own chip is being prepared for release in 2021, to be built by chip fabricator and longtime Apple partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). The first of these chips to power Macs will have at least 12 cores, including eight designed for high-performance applications, and four designed for lower-intensity activities with battery-preserving energy efficiency characteristics. Current Intel designs that Apple employs in devices such as the MacBook Air have four or even two cores, by comparison.

Initially, the report claims Apple will focus on using the chips to power a new Mac design, leaving Intel processors in its higher-end pro level Macs, because the ARM-based designs, while more performant on some scores, can’t yet match the top-end performance of Intel-based chip technology. ARM chips generally provide more power efficiency at the expense of raw computing power, which is why they’re so frequently used in mobile devices.

The first ARM-based Macs will still run macOS, per Bloomberg’s sources, and Apple will seek to make them compatible with software that works on current Intel-based Macs as well. That would be a similar endeavor to when Apple switched from using PowerPC-based processors to Intel chips for its Mac lineup in 2006, so the company has some experience in this regard. During that transition, Apple announced initially that the switch would take place between 2006 and 2007, but accelerated its plans so that all new Macs shipping by the end of 2006 were powered by Intel processors.

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Twitter tightens security ahead of election – TechCrunch

Twitter takes preemptive steps to avoid election-related hacks, we check out the new Apple Watches and Facebook launches new business tools. This is your Daily Crunch for September 17, 2020.

The big story: Twitter tightens security ahead of election

Twitter said today that “high-profile, election-related” accounts in the United States will be receiving notifications telling them they’re required to adopt strong passwords. The company will also be enabling password reset protections for those accounts, and encouraging them to adopt two-factor authentication.

And on top of the steps that it’s requiring candidates to take, Twitter also said it’s adopting additional “proactive internal security safeguards,” such as more sophisticated alerts.

This comes after Twitter was hacked in July, resulting in many high-profile accounts tweeting out a cryptocurrency scam. The company probably wants to avoid an election-related repeat.

The tech giants

A closer look at the new Apple Watches — This isn’t our full review, but rather Brian Heater’s first impressions of the Series 6 and SE.

Facebook launches Facebook Business Suite, an app for managing business accounts across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger — The app offers combined access to a business’s key updates and priorities across Facebook and Instagram.

Amazon makes Alexa Routines shareable — In the U.S., Alexa users will be able to visit the Routines section in the Alexa app, then click on the routine they want to share and grab a shareable URL.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Connected fitness startup Tonal raises another $110 million — It’s a pretty massive round for the strength training company, especially as the space has become increasingly crowded in recent years.

Amazon’s first five climate fund investments include Tesla co-founder JB Straubel’s startup Redwood Materials — Redwood Materials is a recycling startup aiming to create a circular supply chain.

With Goat Capital, Justin Kan and Robin Chan want to keep founding alongside the right teams — Goat Capital is a hybrid incubator, as opposed to a pure seed investment firm.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Superhuman’s Rahul Vohra asks 6 VCs how to raise funding when the sky is falling — Deal velocity has gone up!

Startup founders must overcome information overload — Entrepreneurs share their tips for weighing advice and data.

Does early-stage health tech need more ‘patient’ capital? — Steve O’Hear interviews Dr. Fiona Pathiraja of early-stage health tech fund Crista Galli Ventures.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Jennifer Doudna sees CRISPR gene-editing tech as a Swiss Army knife for COVID-19 and beyond — Doudna is one of the pioneers of the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR, and she discussed its potential at Disrupt.

Hulu tests its co-viewing feature ‘Watch Party’ with ad-supported viewers — Hulu Watch Party was initially only available for subscribers on the service’s ad-free tier.

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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Unity Software has strong opening, gaining 31% after pricing above its raised range – TechCrunch

Whoever said you can’t make money playing video games clearly hasn’t taken a look at Unity Software’s stock price.

On its first official day of trading, the company rose more than 31%, opening at $75 per share before closing the day at $68.35. Unity’s share price gains came after last night’s pricing of the company’s stock at $52 per share, well above the range of $44 to $48 which was itself an upward revision of the company’s initial target.

Games like “Pokémon GO” and “Iron Man VR” rely on the company’s software, as do untold numbers of other mobile gaming applications that use the company’s toolkit for support. The company’s customers range from small gaming publishers to large gaming giants like Electronic Arts, Niantic, Ubisoft and Tencent.

Unity’s IPO comes on the heels of other well-received debuts, including Sumo Logic, Snowflake and JFrog .

TechCrunch caught up with Unity’s CFO, Kim Jabal, after-hours today to dig in a bit on the transaction.

According to Jabal, hosting her company’s roadshow over Zoom had some advantages, as her team didn’t have to focus on tackling a single geography per day, allowing Unity to “optimize” its time based on who the company wanted to meet, instead, of say, whomever was free in Boston or Chicago on a particular Tuesday morning.

Jabal’s comments aren’t the first that TechCrunch has heard regarding roadshows going well in a digital format instead of as an in-person presentation. If the old-school roadshow survives, we’ll be surprised, though private jet companies will miss the business.

Talking about the transaction itself, Jabal stressed the connection between her company’s employees, value  and their access to that same value. Unity’s IPO was unique in that existing and former employees were able to trade 15% of their vested holdings in the company on day one, excluding “current executive officers and directors,” per SEC filings.

That act does not seemed to have dampened enthusiasm for the company’s shares, and could have helped boost early float, allowing for the two sides of the supply and demand curves to more quickly meet close to the company’s real value, instead of a scarcity-driven, more artificial figure.

Regarding Unity’s IPO pricing, Jabal discussed what she called a “very data-driven process.” The result of that process was an IPO price that came in above its raised range, and still rose during its first day’s trading, but less than 50%. That’s about as good an outcome as you can hope for in an IPO.

One final thing for the SaaS nerds out there. Unity’s “dollar-based net expansion rate” went from very good to outstanding in 2020, or in the words of the S-1/A:

Our dollar-based net expansion rate, which measures expansion in existing customers’ revenue over a trailing 12-month period, grew from 124% as of December 31, 2018 to 133% as of December 31, 2019, and from 129% as of June 30, 2019 to 142% as of June 30, 2020, demonstrating the power of this strategy.

We had to ask. And the answer, per Jabal, was a combination of the company’s platform strength and how customers tend to use more of Unity’s services over time, which she described as growing with their customers. And the second key element was 2020’s unique dynamics that gave Unity a “tailwind” thanks to “increased usage, particularly in gaming.”

Looking at our own gaming levels in 2020 compared to 2019, that checks out.

This post closes the book on this week’s IPO class. Tired yet? Don’t be. Palantir is up next, and then Asana .

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Ubisoft teases Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell VR titles for Oculus – TechCrunch

One of the biggest complaints around VR is the same issue that’s plagued generations of gaming platforms: content. A console is only as good as its games, as the saying goes. Today at Facebook Connect, however, Oculus just added two of gaming’s biggest franchises to its slate of upcoming titles.

Ubisoft marked the event by announcing that it will be bringing Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell games to VR. The key details are still extremely thin at the moment, but the gaming giant calls them both “new, made-for-VR,” implying that they’ll be more than just ports of existing games.

Production for both is being spearheaded by Ubisoft’s Red Storm subsidiary. The developer has been working on Tom Clancy titles since the late-90s. It’s also behind a handful of VR titles, including 2017’s Star Trek: Bridge Crew.

More details — including timing — will be available closer to launch. Whenever that is.

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Details

This week we want you to focus on ‘details’

Last week we went with self-portraits and there were many of you that submitted really great images, thanks! This week, we want to see ‘detail’ and that could be a detail of yourself if you wanted to continue the theme “here’s my eyeball” seems to be a thing 🙂

I’ve decided to photograph the end of a fallen tree at the local park, the cracks, the rings and the ants! #dPSDetail

fallen tree, wood rings, ants, detail, dps

There’s detail in everything, while not necessarily being a macro photograph, though you can if you want, the detail is a selection of the larger image. An example might be that the photograph above is a detail shot of the scene below. Detail photographs are used in a story to help tell that story. Tag your photos #dPSDetail and we look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Weekly Photography Challenge – Details

From last week’s photographs, this was a stand-out from Belgium based photographer, Katrien Stuyck, thanks and congratulations, Katrien!

Weekly Photography Challenge – Details

Great! Where do I upload my photos?

Simply upload your shot into the comments field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favourite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Looking Up

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSDetail to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

Follow us on Instagram?



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MIT engineers develop a totally flat fisheye lens that could make wide-angle cameras easier to produce – TechCrunch

Engineers at MIT, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, have devised a way to build a camera lens that avoids the typical spherical curve of ultra-wide-angle glass, while still providing true optical fisheye distortion. The fisheye lens is relatively specialist, producing images that can cover as wide an area as 180 degrees or more, but they can be very costly to produce, and are typically heavy, large lenses that aren’t ideal for use on small cameras like those found on smartphones.

This is the first time that a flat lens has been able to product clear, 180-degree images that cover a true panoramic spread. The engineers were able to make it work by patterning a thin wafer of glass on one side with microscopic, three-dimensional structures that are positioned very precisely in order to scatter any inbound light in precisely the same way that a curved piece of glass would.

The version created by the researchers in this case is actually designed to work specifically with the infrared portion of the light spectrum, but they could also adapt the design to work with visible light, they say. Whether IR or visible light, there are a range of potential uses of this technology, since capturing a 180-degree panorama is useful not only in some types of photography, but also for practical applications like medical imaging and in computer vision applications where range is important to interpreting imaging data.

This design is just one example of what’s called a “Metalens” — lenses that make use of microscopic features to change their optical characteristics in ways that would traditionally have been accomplished through macro design changes — like building a lens with an outward curve, for instance, or stacking multiple pieces of glass with different curvatures to achieve a desired field of view.

What’s unusual here is that the ability to accomplish a clear, detailed and accurate 180-degree panoramic image with a perfectly flat metalens design came as a surprise even to the engineers who worked on the project. It’s definitely an advancement of the science that goes beyond what many assumed was the state of the art.

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Are high churn rates depressing earnings for app developers? – TechCrunch

Improve your retention rates, but don’t do it for the 85/15 split

Ever since Apple opened up subscription monetization to more apps in 2016 — and enticed developers with an 85/15 split on revenue from customers that remain subscribed for more than a year — subscription monetization and retention has felt like the Holy Grail for app developers. So much so that Google quickly followed suit in what appeared to be an example of healthy competition for developers in the mobile OS duopoly.

But how does that split actually work out for most apps? Turns out, the 85/15 split — which Apple is keen to mention anytime developers complain about the App Store rev share — doesn’t have a meaningful impact for most developers. Because churn.

No matter how great an app is, subscribers are going to churn. Sometimes it’s because of a credit card expiring or some other billing issue. And sometimes it’s more of a pause, and the user comes back after a few months. But the majority of churn comes from subscribers who, for whatever reason, decide that the app just isn’t worth paying for anymore. If a subscriber churns before the one-year mark, the developer never sees that 85% split. And even if the user resubscribes, Apple and Google reset the clock if a subscription has lapsed for more than 60 days. Rather convenient… for Apple and Google.

Top mobile apps like Netflix and Spotify report churn rates in the low single digits, but they are the outliers. According to our data, the median churn rate for subscription apps is around 13% for monthly subscriptions and around 50% for annual. Monthly subscription churn is generally a bit higher in the first few months, then it tapers off. But an average churn of 13% leaves just 20% of subscribers crossing that magical 85/15 threshold.

In practice, what this means is that, for all the hype around the 85/15 split, very few developers are going to see a meaningful increase in revenue:

subscriber retention rates

Image Credits: RevenueCat (opens in a new window)

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Apple Watch designer reveals the device’s origins on its fifth birthday – TechCrunch

Update: We mistakenly noted in an earlier version that Chaudhri had been a part of Microsoft’s Hololens team. The story has been updated to remove the reference. 

In his two decades at Apple, Imran Chaudhri worked on many of the company’s most iconic product lines, including the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The designer left the company in 2017 , but today he’s offering up some fun insight into Apple Watch’s beginnings on the wearable’s fifth birthday.

The thread is a treasure trove of fun facts about the device’s early days. One interesting tidbit that might not be a huge surprise to those following Apple at the time is that an early prototype of the Watch consisted of an iPod nano strapped to a watch band.

Five years before it finally entered the smartwatch market in earnest, Apple introduced a square touchscreen nano. Three years before the arrival of the first Pebble, people were already considering the smartwatch possibilities. Accessory makers quickly took advantage, introducing wrist bands that would let it function as a touchscreen music watch. That sixth-gen product ultimately served as a foundation for the popular device to come. 

Per Chaudhri:

i had just wrapped up ios5 and took it down to show the ID team what notification centre and siri was – and what it could be in the future. i never got to share it with steve. we lost him right after ios5.

Other interesting bits here include:

  • The Solar watch face was designed as “as a way for muslims observing ramadan to quickly see the position of the sun and for all to understand the sun’s relationship to time.”
  • The butterfly animation was created using real (albeit deceased) butterflies (one of which is now framed in his home).
  • The touch feature originally went by the name E.T. (electronic touch).
  • The Digital Touch drawing feature was inspired by his time as a graffiti artist.



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It’s game on as Unity begins trading – TechCrunch

Unity Software, which sells a game development toolkit primarily for mobile phone app developers, raised $1.3 billion in its initial public offering.

The company, which will begin trading today with the ticker symbol “U,” priced its shares at the top end of its expected range, selling 25 million shares at $52 per share.

The company’s final IPO price came in far ahead of what Unity initially anticipated. The company initially expected to price its public offering between $34 and $42 per share, later raising its offering to $44 and $48 per share.

The public offering values the company at around $13.7 billion, a good step up from its final private valuation of around $6 billion.

For Unity, the journey to the public markets has been long. The company was founded as a business that creates software for developers to make and manage their games. In that sense, the company is more like an Adobe or an Autodesk than a game studio like Activision Blizzard or King.com.

As TechCrunch explained in an earlier story profiling Unity and its public offering:

Users import digital assets (often from Autodesk’s Maya) and add logic to guide each asset’s behavior, character interactions, physics, lighting and countless other factors that create fully interactive games. Creators then export the final product to one or more of the 20 platforms Unity supports, such as Apple iOS and Google Android, Xbox and PlayStation, Oculus Quest and Microsoft HoloLens, etc.

The company organizes its business into two areas: tools for content creation and tools for managing and monetizing content. In actuality, the revenue from the managing and monetizing content actually outstrips the revenue the company makes from content creation.

The Unity public offering will be the first big test of investor appetite for this new approach to game development and the business-to-business tools that enable the new wave of gaming.

And it’s important to note (as we do here) that Unity doesn’t generate a lot of revenue off of its position as arguably the most popular game development platform. In fact, Unity has been pretty bad at monetizing the game development engine. It’s the ancillary services for in-game advertising, player matchmaking and other features that have made Unity the bulk of its money.

And there’s still the company’s biggest competitor, Epic Games, waiting in the wings. Here again, the analysis from TechCrunch’s previous reporting is helpful:

[Unity] also will want to benefit from comparisons to Epic Games, given [Epic] was just valued at $17 billion and has much greater public name recognition and hype.

To accomplish this, Unity seems to be underplaying the significance of its advertising business (adtech companies trade at much lower revenue multiples). In the past, Unity referred to its operations in three divisions: Create, Operate and Monetize. At the start of August, the SVP and VP leading the Monetize business switched titles to SVP and VP of Operate Solutions, respectively, and then Unity reported the monetization business as a subset of its Operate division in the S-1.

Consolidating Operate and Monetize into one reporting segment obscures specifics about how much revenue the ads business and the live services portfolio each contribute. As noted above, this segment appears to be dominated by ad revenue which means anywhere from 30% to 50% of Unity’s overall revenue is from ads. That should reduce the revenue multiple public investors are willing to value Unity at relative to recent and upcoming SaaS IPOs.

There isn’t a publicly-traded game engine company to directly benchmark Unity against, nor a roster of equity research analysts at big banks who have expertise in gaming infrastructure. Adobe and Autodesk appear to be relevant businesses to benchmark Unity against with regard to the nature of the non-advertising components of the business and Unity’s stated vision. Compared to Unity, those companies have lower growth rates and generate operating profits though; more recent public listings of SaaS companies like Zscaler and Cloudflare are likely to be valuation comps by investors to the extent they focus on its subscription and usage-based revenue streams since their revenue growth and margins are closer to Unity’s.

Both Epic and Unity are moving to meet each other, Epic by moving downstream, and Unity by moving to higher-end applications. And both companies are looking beyond core gaming at other applications as well.

As companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Niantic and others evolve their augmented and virtual reality ecosystems, Epic and Unity may find new worlds to conquer. If public markets can find the cash.

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Twitter tightens account security for political candidates ahead of US election – TechCrunch

Twitter is taking steps to tighten account security for a range of users ahead of the US presidential election, including by requiring the use of strong passwords.

“We’re taking the additional step of proactively implementing account security measures for a designated group of high-profile, election-related Twitter accounts in the US. Starting today, these accounts will be informed via an in-app notification from Twitter of some of the initial account security measures we will be requiring or strongly recommending going forward,” it said in a blog post announcing the pre-emptive step.

Image credit: Twitter

Last month Twitter said it would be dialling up efforts to combat misinformation and election interference, as well as pledging to help get out the vote — going on to out an election hub to help voters navigate the 2020 poll earlier this week.

Its latest election-focused security move follows an embarrassing account hack incident in July which saw scores of verified users’ accounts accessed and used to tweet out a cryptocurrency scam.

Clearly, Twitter won’t want a politically-flavored repeat of that.

Twitter said accounts that will be required to take steps to tighten their security are:

  • US Executive Branch and Congress

  • US Governors and Secretaries of State

  • Presidential campaigns, political parties and candidates with Twitter Election Labels running for US House, US Senate, or Governor

  • Major US news outlets and political journalists

As well as requiring users in these categories to have a strong password — prompting those without one to update it next time they log in — Twitter said it will also enable Password reset protection for the accounts by default.

“This is a setting that helps prevent unauthorized password changes by requiring an account to confirm its email address or phone number to initiate a password reset,” it noted.

It will also encourage the target types of users to enable Two-factor authentication (2FA) as a further measure to bolster against unauthorized logins. Although it will not be requiring 2FA be switched on.

The platform also said it would be implementing extra layers of what it called “proactive internal security safeguards” for the aforementioned accounts, including:

  • More sophisticated detections and alerts to help us, and account holders, respond rapidly to suspicious activity

  • Increased login defenses to prevent malicious account takeover attempts

  • Expedited account recovery support to ensure account security issues are resolved quickly

Also today, Twitter released more detail about how its platform manipulation and spam policies apply to groups seeking to coordinate to cause harm, giving the example of the conspiracy group QAnon. It began a crack down on the conspiracy group in July, when it banned thousands of accounts that had been spreading baseless BS which Twitter said had “the potential to lead to offline harm”.



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