Weekend Roundup: Trump at Apple, Tesla Truck, and Stadia Struggles

It’s the weekend? It’s the weekend! Yay! It was a big week in tech, from the launch of Google’s Stadia streaming-game platform to Trump’s tour of Apple’s Mac Pro manufacturing plant. Let’s jump in!

Stadia Launches… and Flails Immediately

Stadia, Google’s big bet on a streaming-game platform, launched this week… and things maybe didn’t go quite as Google hoped. “A Lag-Riddled Mess,” opined the New York Post, which cited the inevitable bumpiness that comes with trying to stream high-resolution games over a typical web connection (“The lag was so bad in some instances that a friend who came to try it out with me ended up with a case of motion sickness due to the lagging in-game camera controls.”). The somewhat-kinder reviewer at Wired, meanwhile, offered that the platform was “getting there.”

Yes, “getting there.” But Google made some big promises about Stadia leading up to this moment, so “getting there” might not work for those gamers who plunked down $130 for their “Founder’s Edition” (which includes a controller) only to find their streaming experience isn’t as PC-quality as promised. The Verge’s extensive review points out that some features are missing at launch, and 4K games don’t seem to be running at 4K.

Whatever its quirks, though, Stadia is a harbinger of things to come. Apple Arcade is a similar attempt to turn gaming into a subscription service, although it differs from Stadia in crucial ways—for example, you can play games offline, and available games are exclusive to the platform. If rumors prove correct, Microsoft and Sony will eventually roll out streaming versions of their platforms that don’t necessarily require a console; for instance, Microsoft’s xCloud gaming service will allow players to run Xbox games on their Android devices.

But until Google and these other companies figure out how to deliver a seamless, crystal-clear (and responsive) gaming experience over a “typical” web connection, it seems unlikely that streaming will become the dominant form of gaming. For game developers, it’s nonetheless worth keeping an eye on this space—if streaming becomes immensely popular, it could radically change your decision-making over how you build, publish, and market games.

Trump Visits Apple’s Texas Factory

Given the impeachment hearings taking place on Capitol Hill, President Trump probably thought it’d be a good idea to get out of town. This week, he headed straight to Austin, Texas—and the plant where Apple assembles Mac Pros.

Touring the facility with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Trump immediately took credit for everything. “Anybody that followed my campaign, I would always talk about Apple, that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States,” he said. “And that’s what’s happening.”

There’s just one little problem: That factory (which technically belongs to Flex, an Apple contractor) has been churning out Mac Pro units since 2013. Yes, Apple is expanding its Texas workforce, but that action’s occurring at a separate campus some distance away.

Moreover, Apple continues to manufacture the vast majority of its products, including the iPhone, in China. That’s one key reason why Cook has been particularly chummy with Trump lately: He’s doing his best to ensure that the trade war between China and the U.S. doesn’t impact his company. Any tariffs slapped on iPhones, iPads, or other devices would translate into a major hit to Apple’s bottom line.

So Trump got his campaign-friendly video clip, and Cook hopefully got some tariff relief. But that’s not going to stop Apple from concentrating its manufacturing muscle overseas.

Tesla’s New Truck

Speaking of manufacturing, Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes he can challenge Ford with an electric pickup truck. The vehicle, clearly inspired by cyberpunk designs (think “Blade Runner”), is already attracting a lot of buzz, although if Tesla’s past vehicles are any indication, the actual manufacturing and production process will be filled with delays. With its ultra-blocky sides and sharply angled paneling, the truck looks like something from an old 8-bit video game… or a Stadia game played over an ultra-slow connection.

Have a great weekend, everyone!