Weekend Roundup: Amazon’s Big Space Plans, Facebook vs. Apple

What a week! Don’t worry, everyone, the end of 2020 is just about in sight. Right now, though, let’s go through some of the biggest stories of the past few days, including Facebook’s reliance on old-fashioned newspapers, the mess that’s “Cyberpunk 2077,” and Amazon’s neat space project.

Facebook Takes Old School Approach to Apple War

Facebook and Apple are locked in something of a brawl over privacy, with the social-networking giant selecting a very old-school way of getting its message out: full-page newspaper ads.

Specifically, Facebook is upset over the privacy controls in Apple’s iOS 14, which it claims will “change the internet as we know it” by preventing companies from serving up personalized online ads. In keeping with Apple’s sweeping privacy policies, any developer will eventually need permission from users to track their activity on any website or app running on iOS

“We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users,” an Apple spokesperson told The Verge in response to a question about Facebook’s move. “Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites—and they should have the choice to allow that or not.”

But Facebook is clearly worried that additional privacy controls will rid them of precious, precious user data, and so they’re buying full-page ads in The New York times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. That might seem like an odd way to convince the nation that iOS is somehow a threat to the “free internet” (per Facebook’s term) because of data transparency… but Facebook clearly believes that influential policy-makers read a physical newspaper.

Cyberpunk 2077 Becomes a Mess

“Cyberpunk 2077” was one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year. Since its release, however, a controversy has erupted over its poor performance on older consoles such as the PlayStation 4. 

In response, the game’s creator, CD Projekt Red, offered refunds to players—much to the surprise of some retailers, including Sony, which implied in a new support message that anyone disappointed in the game’s clunky performance on older PlayStations will need to wait for the studio to fix the game… only to yank the game entirely hours later.

The mess, which tanked CD Projekt Red’s stock price, is yet another reminder of the craziness behind creating blockbuster games. Even before the release of “Cyberpunk 2077,” there were reports of the studio’s developers subjected to harsh “crunch time” and hard deadlines in order to get the game out the door; based on the product’s bugginess, it’s clear that things didn’t go as planned in terms of product management. Releasing software that works flawlessly is as much an art as a science.

Amazon Wants to Beam You the Internet from Spaaaaaace

Amazon is revealing a bit more about Project Kuiper, its attempt to send a satellite constellation into orbit that will then beam down broadband internet to whomever needs it. The e-commerce giant is showing off its design for the antenna, which is just 12 inches across and, according to the company, help deliver a “maximum throughput of up to 400 Mbps.” (The image at the top of this article is from the lab working on the project.)

According to Amazon, the eventual service will also be low-cost. “If you want to make a difference for unserved and underserved communities, you need to deliver service at a price that makes sense for customers,” Rajeev Badyal, VP of Technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon, states in the company’s blog post on the matter. “This simple fact inspired one of our key tenets for Kuiper: to invent a light, compact phased array antenna that would allow us to produce an affordable customer terminal. It’s incredible to see such a small form factor delivering this type of speed and performance.”

If approved, and if everything goes as planned, Project Kuiper will send 3,236 satellites into orbit at a varying altitude as high as 391 miles up. But Amazon isn’t the only company in the space (pun intended): Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also been launching small satellites into orbit, with the same ultimate goal. 

And you just know that, if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos finally decides to embrace his ultimate calling and become a James Bond supervillain, he’s going to use those satellites as part of some world-conquering plan.

That’s it, everyone! Have a great weekend!