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Temporal raises $18.75M for its microservices orchestration platform



Temporal, a Seattle-based startup that is building an open-source, stateful microservices orchestration platform, today announced that it has raised an $18.75 million Series A round led by Sequoia Ventures. Existing investors Addition Ventures and Amplify Partners also joined, together with new investor Madrona Venture Group. With this, the company has now raised a total of $25.5 million.

Founded by Maxim Fateev (CEO) and Samar Abbas (CTO), who created the open-source Cadence orchestration engine during their time at Uber, Temporal aims to make it easier for developers and operators to run microservices in production. Current users include the likes of Box and Snap.

“Before microservices, coding applications was much simpler,” Temporal’s Fateev told me. “Resources were always located in the same place — the monolith server with a single DB — which meant developers didn’t have to codify a bunch of guessing about where things were. Microservices, on the other hand, are highly distributed, which means developers need to coordinate changes across a number of servers in different physical locations.”

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Those servers could go down at any time, so engineers often spend a lot of time building custom reliability code to make calls to these services. As Fateev argues, that’s table stakes and doesn’t help these developers create something that builds real business value. Temporal gives these developers access to a set of what the team calls ‘reliability primitives’ that handle these use cases. “This means developers spend far more time writing differentiated code for their business and end up with a more reliable application than they could have built themselves,” said Fateev.

Temporal’s target use is virtually any developer who works with microservices — and wants them to be reliable. Because of this, the company’s tool — despite offering a read-only web-based user interface for administering and monitoring the system — isn’t the main focus here. The company also doesn’t have any plans to create a no-code/low-code workflow builder, Fateev tells me. However, since it is open-source, quite a few Temporal users build their own solutions on top of it.

The company itself plans to offer a cloud-based Temporal-as-a-Service offering soon. Interestingly, Fateev tells me that the team isn’t looking at offering enterprise support or licensing in the near future, though. “After spending a lot of time thinking it over, we decided a hosted offering was best for the open-source community and long term growth of the business,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, the company plans to use the new funding to improve its existing tool and build out this cloud service, with plans to launch it into general availability next year. At the same time, the team plans to say true to its open-source roots and host events and provide more resources to its community.

“Temporal enables Snapchat to focus on building the business logic of a robust asynchronous API system without requiring a complex state management infrastructure,” said Steven Sun, Snap Tech Lead, Staff Software Engineer. “This has improved the efficiency of launching our services for the Snapchat community.”


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iOS 14 resets default email and browser apps after App Store updates



Apple continues to have trouble with its new default app settings in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. After it was discovered that power cycling devices would flip the defaults for email and web browser back to Apple’s own apps, the company quickly patched that issue.

But now it’s been reported — and The Verge has confirmed directly — that whenever you update your chosen default app (like Gmail or Microsoft Edge) in the App Store, it gets booted out of the default app slot. Credit to David Clarke for making us aware of bug, which remains present as of the iOS 14.1 update that was just released yesterday.

It’s possible that Apple will manage to fix this in time for the release of iOS 14.2, which remains in beta. Having to reselect Gmail or Outlook as your preferred default email app every time Google or Microsoft releases an update is less than ideal. If you’ve noticed your choices aren’t sticking, this could be the reason why — especially if you’ve got automatic app updates enabled. The Verge has reached out to Apple for comment.


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Acer’s Swift 3X includes Intel’s new Iris Xe Max discrete GPU



I like Acer’s Swift 3 line because it really has its finger on the features that students need. The Swift 3 doesn’t look fancy and doesn’t come with any cutting-edge bells and whistles. But it’s sturdy and portable with good performance and solid battery life — and best of all, it’s affordable.

I’ve spent a bit of time checking out Acer’s Swift 3X, a slightly scaled-up version of the Acer Swift 3. It looks, feels, and is built like a Swift 3, with a notable exception: it has a discrete GPU.

The Acer Swift 3 half open from the left side.
Latest Intel processor, latest Intel graphics.

The Swift 3X contains Intel’s Iris Xe Max, Intel’s new discrete GPU (the laptop variant of the DG1). With its slim and portable build (three pounds and 0.7 inches thick) this Swift looks to be targeting a slightly different niche from its predecessors: amateur creators, students who need photo and video editing for class, or professionals who are looking to get media work done on the go. Since this is a preview unit that’s not finalized, I wasn’t able to run any graphics benchmarks — we can look forward to those results when the full product hits shelves in December.

My test configuration includes a quad-core Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, and costs $1,199 — that’s getting into premium territory. An intriguing midrange option is the base model, which gives you a Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage for $899.99. (Acer made sure to note that “Prices are approximate until finalized.”)

The Acer Swift 3X closed from the right side.
Acer says 30 minutes of fast charging provides four hours of juice.

My first impressions are that this is a Swift 3 through and through. It looks nice but unexciting. You can choose between “steam blue” and “safari gold.” The screen bezels aren’t tiny, but they’re certainly still small enough to give the display a sophisticated look (and a fold-under hinge hides a chunk of the bottom one). Acer claims an 84 percent screen-to-body ratio, a slight improvement from the Swift 3 I reviewed earlier this year (82.73 percent). The whole thing is a bit thicker and a bit heavier than Swift 3s usually are, but that’s understandable since it includes discrete graphics. I’d still have no problem carrying it around in a backpack or briefcase.

I’m a fan of the fingerprint reader, which is reliable and in a convenient location below the keyboard. I also like the port selection, which has just about everything you need: one headphone jack, one HDMI, one USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, two USB-A, and a Kensington lock slot.

The Acer Swift 3X keyboard seen from above.
You can sign in with Windows Hello Fingerprint (no facial recognition, though).

On the other hand, the keyboard and touchpad both aren’t my favorites. They’re a bit shallow and a bit stiff, respectively, and the material feels a bit plasticky. That’s all absolutely forgivable at the $600-700 price point where many Swift 3 models live — at $1,199, it feels a bit out of place.

There are a few questions I’m eager to answer with the final model. First: cooling. I put the preview unit through some daily office tasks (writing, emailing, spreadsheeting, copying files, downloading stuff, etc.) and did notice that the fans seemed to be working very hard — they were loud enough while I was multitasking that it was actually a bit disruptive. Acer says there will be multiple fan modes — those weren’t enabled on this model, but I hope there’s a Silent profile that can help calm things down.

Second: the screen, because that was a significant weakness of the Acer Swift 3 I reviewed earlier this year. That panel only reproduced 65 percent of the sRGB spectrum and hit 218 nits of brightness. That’s just fine for a user like me, but it wouldn’t be recommended for creative work, which this model is supposed to be targeting.

This model, like my Swift 3 review unit, has a matte screen, which minimizes the glare you’ll see while working in bright settings, but it can also make colors look flatter than they might on a glossy panel. Anecdotally, the 3X actually looked pretty good and seems to be an improvement from the Swift 3. It got decently bright during my use and reproduced colors well. Until I can measure the brightness and gamut coverage, though, I can’t confidently tell you whether it’ll work for creators.

(It’s also a 16:9 aspect ratio, which I’m not a fan of — I had to zoom out from the recommended DPI to comfortably work in multiple windows.)

The lid of the Acer Swift 3X from the top.
This is the “safari gold” model.

Thirdly, battery life — a really important consideration for on-the-go workers and students of all ages. Acer claims you’ll get 17.5 hours of video playback on one charge — I’d be shocked if this lasts that long in real-world use, but I couldn’t test that claim. The 3X has a bigger battery than the 3 — 58.7Wh to 48Wh. The AMD-powered Swift 3 lasted around seven hours in my testing, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this brick can keep up that life span with a discrete GPU in tow.

But finally and most importantly, whether these systems are worth buying will depend pretty heavily on how good the GPU is. If the Swift 3X ends up delivering performance similar to the lower-level MX models on the market, it may have trouble distinguishing itself from systems like the $899 MSI Modern 14 or the $899 Asus Zenbook 14. (And as integrated graphics get better with each CPU generation, those cards are making less and less sense to buy.) If Intel’s card ends up on the level of cards like the GTX 1650 Ti (which powers the $1,799 Razer Blade Stealth 13), then both of those 3X configurations will be great value.

Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge


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Acer announces several new, slim-bezeled gaming monitors



Acer has announced a fleet of new gaming monitors in its Predator and Nitro lineups. As with the company’s laptops, the Predator line offers more high-end, feature-packed options whereas the Nitro line is value-focused and thus less expensive. Each of the monitors has minimal bezels, so they should work well with a multi-monitor setup if you want to put two or more of them side by side.

Starting with the most interesting, the Predator X34 GS (shown on the left in the image above) is a 34-inch ultrawide curved QHD (3440 x 1440) IPS panel. This isn’t Acer’s first ultrawide gaming monitor, but it’s a little bit more affordable than some of the company’s previous models: it is expected to cost $1,100 when it launches in the US in December. The Predator X34 GS is G-Sync compatible and can be overclocked to run at a 180Hz refresh rate with very fast half-millisecond response time. Additionally, it supports VESA DisplayHDR 400, covers 98 percent of the DCI-P3 color spectrum, and sports two integrated 7W speakers.

Acer’s XB253Q GW gaming monitor has a strip of RGB lights that flash according to what’s on the screen.
Photo: Acer

Acer’s 24.5-inch Predator XB253Q GW gaming monitor has an RGB LED strip beneath the display that can illuminate in tandem with the beat of your music or with explosive moments in your games. It’s a 1080p IPS display that is G-Sync compatible and can be overclocked to a 280Hz refresh rate, also with half-millisecond response time. For a 1080p monitor, it’s pricey at $430 (set for a January 2021 release), but its RGB lights could make it stand out.

The XB323U GX is a 32-inch QHD monitor that supports HDR content and is G-Sync compatible.
Photo: Acer

Next up, there’s Acer’s Predator XB323U GX, a 32-inch QHD monitor that can be overclocked to a 270Hz refresh rate with as little as a 0.5ms response time. This monitor covers 99 percent of the AdobeRGB gamut, with support for VESA DisplayHDR 600 as well as 8-bit image processing and local dimming, the latter of which Acer says should enable “deep blacks and impressive highlights.” Like the other models above, the XB323U GX is Nvidia G-Sync compatible. It will cost $900 when it launches in the US in January 2021. Acer didn’t mention what kind of panel this model uses.

The XB273U NV claims to have features to help out your eyes. The RGB strip on the monitor’s back is easy on the eyes, too.
Photo: Acer

If you want to give your eyes a break while you game, the Predator XB273U NV incorporates what Acer calls VisionCare 4.0 (presumably, a built-in sensor) to automatically adjust the monitor’s brightness and color temperature. Additionally, this 27-inch QHD IPS display has up to a 170Hz refresh rate with a 1ms response time. It supports HDR content with DisplayHDR 400 certification and is color-accurate with 95 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. This model has a strip of RGB lights on its back, which can illuminate your wall with colors that match what’s on the screen. Acer didn’t say whether this one is G-Sync compatible. It will cost $550 when it launches in the US in January 2021.

The QHD XV272U KV is on the left, while the 1080p XV272 LV is on the right.
Photo: Acer

Lastly, Acer is announcing two 27-inch Nitro models, the XV272U KV and the XV272 LV. Despite the similarity in their names, they seem to be very different.

The XV272U KV is a 27-inch QHD IPS panel that supports up to a 170Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time. This Nitro model has some of the same VisionCare 4.0 features as the XB273U NV, including the ability to adjust the brightness and color temperature automatically. It will cost $400 when it launches in the US in December.

The XV272 LV is a 1080p IPS panel that can be overclocked to 165Hz refresh rate. It can display 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color spectrum. Acer didn’t provide any other notable details for this one other than it will cost $280 when it launches in December in the US.


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