Epic Games wins a victory against Apple, Fitbit announces a new smartwatch and Microsoft Word adds a transcription feature. This is your Daily Crunch for August 25, 2020.
The big story: Judge says Apple can’t block Unreal Engine
U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers weighed in on the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple with a mixed verdict. She denied Epic’s motion to restore the popular game Fortnite to Apple’s App Store, but also ordered Apple not to block Epic’s developer accounts or to restrict developers on Apple platforms from accessing Epic’s Unreal Engine tools.
“Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” Rogers said.
A full hearing on the dispute is scheduled for September 28.
The tech giants
Fitbit launches a $330 Apple Watch competitor — The Sense is designed to be a premium alternative to the Versa line, described by the company as its most advanced health smartwatch.
Facebook is bringing a Shop section to its app, while Instagram expands Live Shopping — Facebook Shop doesn’t sound too different from the similarly named Instagram Shop, where users can browse products from their favorite brands and businesses.
Microsoft brings transcriptions to Word — This new feature lets you transcribe conversations, both live and pre-recorded, and then edit those transcripts right inside of Word.
Startups, funding and venture capital
YC’s most anticipated startup raised $16M from a16z before Demo Day — Trove sells a suite of internal compensation tools to other startups.
Self-charging, thousand-year battery startup NDB aces key tests and lands first beta customers — NDB has created a new, proprietary nano diamond treatment that allows for more efficient extraction of electric charge from the diamond used in the creation of the battery.
Instacart workers are demanding disaster relief amid CA wildfires — Gig Workers Collective, a gig worker-activist group led by Instacart shoppers, is asking Instacart to provide disaster relief to workers impacted by natural disasters.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
How to establish a startup and draw up your first contract — We invited James Alonso from Magnolia Law and Adam Zagaris from Moonshot Legal to join us at TechCrunch Early Stage to give us a 360 overview of the legal side of running a startup.
Unity, JFrog, Asana, Snowflake and Sumo Logic file for IPOs in rapid-fire fashion — Alex Wilhelm does a big roundup of new IPO filings.
As DevOps takes off, site reliability engineers are flying high — The emergence of site reliability engineers is not a new trend, but one closely coupled with the theme of DevOps over the last decade.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Netflix’s ‘Emily’s Wonder Lab’ is smart, interactive science TV for kids — TV science host (and former TechCrunch contributor) Emily Calandrelli told us that “Wonder Lab” is the realization of a concept that she’s been pitching for years.
Porsche experiments with subscription pricing, expands to Los Angeles — Porsche now has three tiers under its newly rebranded Porsche Drive vehicle subscription program.
Meet the Disrupt 2020 ‘TC10’ — The TC10 is a group of entrepreneurs, investors, etc. who have been a staple of our Disrupt conference over the past decade. And they’re all coming back!
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.
Microsoft 365 outage affects multiple services – Reuters
(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp has resolved a major outage to its Microsoft 365 services that impacted users of business products including Outlook and Teams, the company said on Tuesday.
The company said it has rolled back an update to its services, which had likely caused the disruption.
Microsoft did not disclose details on how many users were impacted, but outage tracking website Downdetector.com showed that at its peak nearly 8,000 individuals reported issues with Teams and Outlook on late Monday.
The issue, which persisted for several hours Monday night, had caused an uproar on Twitter, with several users complaining that the outage meant they could miss their job interviews and deadline for college assignments.
Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Arun Koyyur
What's new on Xbox Game Pass for console, PC, Android in first half of October – MobileSyrup
Every month, Microsoft adds new games to its Xbox Game Pass on-demand subscription service for Console and PC.
Normally, these roll out in two waves, and now, the company has revealed October’s first batch of new Game Pass titles.
It’s important to note that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s game streaming option launched on September 15th on Android. As a result, Microsoft is now highlighting Android-specific Game Pass titles on top of those for Console and PC.
See below for the full list of incoming games:
- Doom Eternal (Android and Console) — October 1st (coming to Game Pass for PC, release TBA 2020)
- Drake Hollow (PC) — October 1st
- Brütal Legend (Console) — October 8th
- Forza Motorsport 7 (Console, PC and Android) — October 8th
- Ikenfell (Console and PC) — October 8th
Additionally, Xbox has revealed the latest Game Pass Ultimate Perks, which subscribers get for the following games at no additional cost:
- Black Desert — claim the ‘Special Gift Bundle’
- Funimation — get two months of anime service Funimation’s ad-free Premium Plus subscription for free
- Phantasy Star Online 2 — ‘Episode 5 Update Bonus’
- Vigor — ‘Armed Outlander Bundle’
Meanwhile, here’s what’s leaving Game Pass on October 15th:
- Felix the Reaper (Console and PC)
- Metro 2033 Redux (Console and PC)
- Minit (Console and PC)
- Saints Row IV Re-Elected (PC)
- State of Mind (PC)
As always, Game Pass subscribers can purchase any game in the catalogue with a member-exclusive 20 percent discount to keep playing once they leave the service.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Xbox also just confirmed that EA Play will be coming to Game Pass Ultimate on November 10th alongside the launch of the Xbox Series X and S.
This means that console and PC players will be able to access an additional 60-plus games — as well as other exclusive perks like full-game trials and discounts — through Electronic Arts’ service, all at no additional cost. A yet-to-be-confirmed selection of games from the EA Play catalogue will also be available for streaming on Android through Game Pass Ultimate.
Newcomers can sign up for their first month of Game Pass Ultimate for $1 CAD. This includes Game Pass for both Console and PC, as well as an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Otherwise, Game Pass Ultimate costs $16.99 CAD/month.
September’s second wave of new Game Pass titles can be found here.
Image credit: Bethesda
Cyberpunk 2077 Publisher Orders 6-Day Weeks Ahead of Game Debut – Bloomberg
Polish video game developer CD Projekt Red told employees on Monday that six-day work weeks will be mandatory leading up to the November release of the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, reneging on an earlier promise to not force overtime on the project.
Red, a subsidiary of Poland’s biggest gaming company CD Projekt SA, has been criticized previously for engaging in “crunch,” an industry term for excessive overtime in game development. The practice often lasts for weeks and can stretch out for months or even years. CD Projekt Red co-chief executive officer Marcin Iwinski last year told gaming website Kotaku that the company would be avoiding mandatory crunch and was “committed” to allowing employees to work without overtime.
But an account from a CD Projekt Red employee recently as well as an email to staff earlier this week indicate that the company hasn’t lived up to its word. The employee, who asked not to be named discussing private information, said some staff had already been putting in nights and weekends for more than a year.
In the email, CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski wrote that he was optimistic about the state of Cyberpunk 2077, which stars Keanu Reeves, and that they had just sent the game to be certified for release on Sony Corp.’s PlayStation and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox. Now, he wrote, it was time to fix the game’s many lingering bugs and glitches.
“Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive,” Badowski wrote, elaborating that this meant “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend.” The extra work would be paid, as required by Polish labor laws. Many other video game studios don’t pay for overtime.
“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” he wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”
CD Projekt Red didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last year, Iwinski and Badowski told Kotaku that they were looking to make CD Projekt Red a more “humane” place to work.
“We are known for treating gamers with respect,” Iwinski said. “I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.”
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