Launches: SpaceX delays, HBO Max lurches, and more

Yesterday was a very full day: SpaceX nearly launched the first Americans into space from American soild in nine years, HBO Max nearly launched a service that actually made sense but fell short when you looked at any details whatsover, and the White House launched a incoherent Twitter offensive that is literally offensive in addition to being legally dubious.

A day in 2020, in other words. There's enough to fill your morning in the links below, so I added a little extra commentary than usual instead of a big long essay today. 

But hey, here's something else to check out: The Verge has a new show on Snapchat. Click that link and then scan the QR code in Snapchat to open it. First up: How your phone will track the coronavirus.

- Dieter

The SpaceX launch is delayed

┏ SpaceX had to delay the first historic crewed launch to space due to weather. They'll try again on Saturday. Sort of amazing it got to 17 minutes left in the countdown in the first place given what the weather was doing. Even though I'm disappointed by the launch delay, I'm still inspired by how many people came together to do this amazing thing and how they held out hope they could launch up until the very last moment.

Another hopeful sign: Donald Trump and Elon Musk were in the same room at the same time and I haven't seen a single report that either of them said anything stupid about COVID-19 while they were together.

The HBO Max launch lurched

┏ How to stream HBO Max. It might seem odd to have a how-to article on using a streaming video app, but given how complicated this launch has been and how many similarly-named-but-not-the-actual-thing HBO services that are still around, it's actually really helpful.

┏ HBO Max's catalog is full of weird holes. On Twitter, Casey Newton described the library of content as a "chaotic slurry" and honestly that's too good for me to try to top. 

┏ You can no longer subscribe to HBO via Apple TV Channels. Amazon also won't let you subscribe to HBO Max on Fire TV since it won't support Amazon's channel feature.

This is a story that's about AT&T failing to make all the deals it should have, but really it's a story that AT&T set itself up as a complex, matrixed corporation that intertwines cellular service, television, content production, and now streaming. And it believes that each of those services are will succeeed primarily because of complex, matrixed relationships with other big corporations and only secondarily on other things like -- ahem -- the quality of the shows. It was doomed from the start to have weird issues of availability and the streaming service equivalent of blackouts.

This is also a story of how both Amazon Channels and Apple TV Channels aren't going to be the future of streaming TV, no matter what those companies want. Nobody wants to give up that much power to a potential competitor (and in this gilded age of mergers when every big company seems to think it needs to be in every business, everybody is a potential competitor).

┏ HBO Max is taking on Netflix with human curation instead of solely relying on algorithms. Julia Alexander has a smart look at the strategy. That's not to say the strategy is smart, though, so much as necessary


Verge Deal of the day 

GoG's summer sale discounts Prey, Metro Exodus, and more

GoG.com's summer sale lasts until June 15th, and you can save big several titles, including Metro Exodus for $20, and Prey: Digital Deluxe Edition, which includes the base game, its soundtrack, and the Mooncrash DLC for just $12. Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition is $22.50, which is an excellent price for such a huge game (and it supports cross-save with the Nintendo Switch version of the game). Best of all, each purchase is DRM-free.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy. Prices displayed are based on the MSRP at time of posting.


More streaming news

┏ Instagram will share revenue with creators for the first time through ads in IGTV. Sharing money with creators is one of the things that unlocked YouTube's massive growth and has helped keep those creators there even when they got frustrated (along with the network effect, of course). Instagram moving more aggressively to do the same is potentially huge. Ashley Carman has all the details.

I actually think that of all the streaming news that happened yesterday, this has the potential to end up being the most consequential. Just "potential," though, because you should never bet that Facebook will get video right. It's gotten it wrong too many times. (Disclosure: my wife works for Oculus, a division of Facebook)

┏ Apple TV Plus acquires past Fraggle Rock seasons ahead of reboot. Apple originally said it didn't need a back catalog of shows. Guess it does.

┏ Nvidia says developers must now opt in to include games on GeForce Now. I wish that Nvidia could have found a way to just offer this service without game makers backing out. There's a kind of "you bought it, you should get to choose how you play it" principle that I would like to demand here. But the writing was on the wall early and obviously that it wasn't going to work, and Nvidia should have moved way faster than it did in offering gamers clarity on what was going to happen. It's not ideal now, but at least it's clear.


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We unfortunately have to talk about Tweets now

┏ White House organizes harassment of Twitter employee as Trump threatens company. This spectacle is the real goal, not regulation. But it's not just a show, it has real world, harmful consequences.

┏ Trump wants to fight Twitter more than regulate it. Makena Kelly has been reporting on the actual legislation being proposed on regulating social networks for some time. When she points out that this is more about having the public fight than actually enacting laws, believe her:

It's not the first time the president has called out platforms for perceived bias against conservatives, and it certainly won't be the last. But all of Trump's past attempts to regulate social media platforms for ideological bias have fallen short, even as the scandals provoking them continue to escalate.

┏ Social media bias lawsuits keep failing in court. Adi Robertson goes into the cases detailing why all this bluster is unlikely to turn in to a real law.

Anti-bias lawsuits — where people argue Twitter, Google, or Facebook are discriminating against them for political reasons and legally obligated to carry their speech — offer an illuminating look at why Trump's boldest threats are probably bluster. Courts across the country have repeatedly defended social networks' rights to ban at will. If Trump wanted to shut down sites that went against his wishes, he'd need to basically upend this precedent.

More from The Verge

┏ Microsoft Surface Book 3 (15-inch) review: more power, more problems. Tom Warren reviews the bigger one.

┏ Microsoft's 13.5-inch Surface Book 3 puts modern guts in a dated design. Monica Chin reviews the smaller one.

┏ Windows 10 May 2020 Update now available with built-in Linux kernel and Cortana updates. Tom Warren has the details, including this bit:

The May 2020 Update also includes some big Cortana improvements. Cortana can now be undocked from the Windows 10 taskbar, and it includes the ability to choose between typing or talking to the digital assistant. This includes tweaks to the overall Cortana interface to make it more conversational, and Microsoft has also added quick searches to the search home interface with this latest update. These include quick access to weather, news, today in history, and new movies

┏ Texas Instruments angers hobbyists with limits to calculator programming support. This is dum. TI should undo this decision.

┏ Sony's first PS5 game reveal could be June 3rd. This is the same day Google plans on doing some sort of Android 11 Beta announcement, so it'll be a busy one!

You are reading Processor, a newsletter about computers by Dieter Bohn. Dieter writes about consumer tech, software, and the most important news of the day from The Verge. This newsletter delivers about four times a week, at least a couple of which include longer essays.

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