• Harrison Jones

Fresh off the IT Block, 12th Oct 2020

Welcome again to our fresh off the block news series!


For today's stories, we'll discuss how Slack is set to make direct messaging available between ALL organisations, why cinemas are closing down again (Is it the new era of streaming?), and we look back on Google's new product announcements, and what gadgets you can snag up for the holiday season this year!

Slack set to make direct messaging available between ALL organisations


You may be familiar with Slack, it is a collaborational tool for businesses, where teams can integrate applications, messages, files and data into a single manageable portal. Now, Slack users can look forward to a great new update, where you can instantly message anyone directly, even if they are outside your organisation.


So how does it work?



Slack set to make direct messaging available to ALL organisations


Well Slack did release their Connect update back in June of this year, and it follows a similar path - Now, users can send a "DM link" to an employee in any other organisation (Using another form of social media of course), and when they accept this invite link, a conversation window will be generated. What's great about this feature, and what sets it apart from Microsoft Teams, is that your internal and external conversations can be integrated into the same list.


Microsoft Teams makes external chats a little more long-winded (We're talking two clicks more, but in the grand scheme of tech, this is just too much!), where if you are invited to an external organisation, you'll have to switch between organisations manually to access your conversations for each organisation.


This update combined with the connect update is part of Slack's plan to eradicate the painful task of companies pinging out emails to one another, only to never know when they are read (IF they don't use read receipts), as well as never knowing if someone is away from their desk or not.



Slack set to make direct messaging available to ALL organisations


This handy new feature will make it even more simple to connect with clients you meet who may already have Slack too. You can tweet out your conversation invite to people, or even print a QR code onto your business cards, so that clients and prospective clients alike can connect with you on a more direct level. Obviously Twitter messaging is direct, but Twitter isn't really for work - LinkedIn is the closest network you can get behind the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams.


The sharing idea will work a little bit like Blackberry Messenger back when the phone company was a big hit. You might remember when people would share their BBM pin with other BBM users via social media, and then their conversations could be integrated into the BBM application on their mobile phones.


Slack hopes to go one step further than this update, and in 2021 they expect to rollout a "verified organisations" feature, where an organisation can be shown as trusted, rather than just a single user. This will make for safer integration of chats between different companies over the platform as remote working becomes more mainstream.

Why cinemas are closing down again (Is it the new era of streaming?)


An event we always expected was a 2nd wave of coronavirus, even if it wasn't as large as the first for many countries. The reality we are facing now is that fear is overriding demand for leisure - We see it for travel, for places like gyms, and most recently, for cinemas.


Over the last 2-3 months, cinemas across the world have began a gradual reopening, albeit at limited capacity. In recent weeks, a host of movies have either been delayed, or opted to switch to PVOD. Now, PVOD means premium video on demand, and we're referring here to sites like Netflix, Disney Plus etc.



Why cinemas are closing down again (Is it the new era of streaming?)


We have seen titles such as No Time to Die, Black Widow and Mulan either be delayed to 2021, or moved straight to PVOD. Mulan proved that turning away from cinemas to online streaming was an alternative, but it certainly didn't turn out to be profitable, and has not reached its budget of roughly $200 million USD. It has grossed $66 million USD so far at the box office, but this is only a third of the cost of making the film, showing that cinemas too are a long way off getting the kind of revenue they need to survive.


This has already turned sour for Cineworld (A UK-based cinema chain) and their American-acquired Regal cinemas, with their CEO Mooky Greidinger announcing that all of their UK and US cinema outlets were to close again. This is due to a combination of both coronavirus-related restrictions and movie studies delaying new releases, as they believe the box office performance won't be profitable at this stage.



Why cinemas are closing down again (Is it the new era of streaming?)

It definitely seems as though the streaming services are raking in the cash, as subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV and Disney+ are at their highest ever levels. Cineworld's temporary closure resulted in a dire 50+% drop in its share price when trading opened on Monday 5th October, it has since risen and the share price now sits at 27 pence (As of October 7th 2020). Compare this to pre-COVID, and the share price was £2+ year-on-year.


Netflix on the other hand saw just a 20% dip in March, and since then it has almost doubled in price, recently hitting its all time high of $550 USD per share. Based off this comparison, it is clear to see that as cinemas have struggled greatly during the pandemic, streaming services have performed better than anyone expected, and it is likely they will stay that way, at least until the fear-factor of COVID retreats away from the general public.

Google's new product announcements - What can you expect in Google's new line-up?


Back on the 30th September, Google hosted their annual event where they announce exciting new products, as well as important updates for existing products. 2020 was certainly not a disappointment! Let's run through the key products you can look forward to buying...


Google Pixel 5


When it comes to premium smartphones, Google has always been somewhat a few steps behind Apple and Samsung, however they have really leaped back into contention with the Pixel 5. Priced at $699 USD ($950 SGD), users can expect to benefit from premium specs such as the 8 GB of RAM, as well as the Snapdragon 765G processor (The processor isn't the best in the world, but it does the job pretty damn well!).


The Pixel 5 has been developed with a focus towards more of the unique elements - This phone comes waterproof and dustproof (With an IPX8 rating), and boasts a 90Hz refresh rate, meaning there is virtually no lag or delay on the interface.



Google's new product announcements - What can you expect in Google's new line-up?


The camera is also a great talking point, as Google has implemented a feature called Night Sight, meaning you can amend the lighting of any photo in post-processing. Users will also enjoy the 4K 60 FPS video recording capabilities, putting quality at a similar level to many mid-range DSLR cameras.


Lastly, the Pixel 5 comes with 5G support, and will be released in the US on the 15th October, with other countries to follow up shortly afterwards.


Brand new Chromecast remote


Google users will be pleased to know that you don't even need a phone on hand to operate the new Chromecast. The product includes a dedicated remote with its own Assistant button, and also has buttons to launch YouTube and Netflix . It runs off Google TV, Google's own operating system.



Google's new product announcements - What can you expect in Google's new line-up?


Users can pick the new Chromecast up for a modest $50 USD ($67 SGD) - The only downfall is that Stadia is still not available, meaning that Stadia Cloud Gaming won't be available at launch, but Google is expected to roll this feature out to devices in the coming weeks/months after launch. The new Chromecast will also arrive on the 15th October.


New powerful Nest Audio speaker



Google's new product announcements - What can you expect in Google's new line-up?


Lastly, for $99 USD ($135 SGD), Google fans can pick up the new Nest Audio, and it is set to impress! There isn't as much detail to this product, but users can anticipate to play their favourite books, songs and radio stations with a 50 percent stronger bass response, and audio that can reach levels 75 percent higher than the original Google Home. As expected, the new Nest Audio comes with the same aesthetically pleasing mesh fabric, which makes for a fantastic sound quality.


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