Sep 15th 2017 by DigitalExtremes • 41 Questions • 1047 Points
Hi friends, I'm excited to be here for another AMA.
I've been keeping busy these days with a few projects, including my venture fund and incubator Playground Global and my company Essential, which recently released our first product, Essential Phone. You can check it out here: https://www.essential.com/
Proof 360 photo: https://kuula.co/post/7lv71 Proof Tweet: https://twitter.com/Arubin/status/908402598771752960
I'm here with (in clock-wise order in the photo above): Linda Jiang, Essential's Head of Industrial Design; Dave Evans, Essential's VP of Design; Rebecca Zavin, Essential's VP of Software; Joe Tate, Essential's VP of Hardware.
We'll be here from 12 - 1pm PDT answering questions. Ask us anything!
EDIT: Thanks for joining us! We had a great time chatting with everyone today. We keep an eye on /r/essential so feel free to post topics there that you'd like us to see.
Is there a Forma Noggle in the works?
And doesn't that champagne still have the cork in?
I'm the developer of Nova Launcher, the most popular replacement home screen for Android. We've been getting a ton of emails from Essential users complaining about how the Essential draws a large black notification bar instead of letting Nova, or any third party app not on your whitelist use the full screen. I'm aware of the adb commands to work around this, but that's not an ideal solution for end users.
How can I get my app white listed to use the full screen? It looks awful having a black bar over the wallpaper. Your users right now are early adopters, they're very likely to be power users who expect to be able to use a replacement launcher without issues. I'm used to dealing with OEM shenanigans but it doesn't even seem there is any hack I can do to use the full screen.
Please let developers opt-in to use the full screen. Or you could just use the standard Android APIs for insets. The creator of Android, you, had diverse hardware in mind. Embrace it!
I wish there was a Forma noggle... maybe one day. And yes... safety first!
Hey! Message us directly and we'll whitelist you today! -Rebecca
Any plans to rework snipers before PoE?
Many players are dissatisfied with scope sway, hipfire inaccuracy, and combo decay mechanic.
Imo, i've always liked snipers as an idea but they are wholly outclassed in Warframe gameplay, even moreso by the recent sniper pistols.
Please make them good without strange "realistic" nerfs!
What are your plans to address the widespread criticism of the PH-1's camera? What are the challenges and the plans for future software improvements on it?
Because the size of the Plains, we are going to take a look at them. Snipers are going to be very interesting in the Plains of Eidolon - we've been having a ton of fun with them in our playthroughs here so we do hope to tweak a bit before launch!
Hi! We are pretty happy with the hardware design of the camera. We are using computational photography to fuse a monochrome and color sensors. That's the part we're not too happy about, but luckily it's software and we've already done a number of updates to the app to fix bug and add features. - andyR
There have been reports of multiple software problems such as touches not registering properly (especially on the edges) and micro stuttering while scrolling. Are you guys working to address those issues? Also what other software issues are being worked on?
Note: my touch issues have been fixed with the recent OTA update but others haven't. Why would that be the case?
Yes, once you are Upgraded to Warrior there is no going back!
We're happy we were able to address some of your issues! You'll see performance bug fixes continuing to roll out in our subsequent release. The top performance issue we are pursuing is that UI freeze up that turns out is lock contention in the System UI thread! Now that we're hot on it's trail we should have a fix soon. -Rebecca
What other snap-on attachments can we expect to see? Do you have plans to release a dedicated zoom camera attachment/set of prime lens attachments?
We have Braton Vandal slated as a reward for an upcoming event ... a past Devstream may have confirmed the Relay Building aspect. The current plan is to include it there, but no details on the event ETA!
We are under development on a number of Click Connector accessories. The first available should be the charging dock. We are also actively developing a high end audio accessory to support a 3.5mm jack. We are continuing to look at supporting ideas, like cameras. -Joe
Why not include Qi wireless charging in the phone itself? It doesn't look like the charging coil takes up that much room and the Essential wouldn't have hurt that much to be a little thicker to accommodate it if necessary. Is the material choice what prevented this from being included?
We have an equation for that...N+1. Where N is the number of beanies currently owned. You always need 1 more. - Dave, Producer!
We are solving this with the charging dock, which is much more "Green" than Qi power as its more efficient and solves the "drop and charge" issue. -Joe
What will zenurik energy regen be replaced with, and will there be new options for passive energy gain during missions?
What is essentials stand on custom development? When will kernel sources be released? Will you release factory images like google does with nexus/pixel devices? Will we see a SDK for the dual cameras so third party developers can use both rear cameras/360 cameras in their own apps? Android OREO ETA? I can go on but those are my top questions I would love to get answers to!
We answered something like this earlier, but based on the recurring interest we are definitely looking to include aspects of the loved Focus passives possible in the overhauled Arcanes.
We are excited about supporting 3rd party developers. We'll be releasing our kernel and factory images in the next few days. Android O will be coming in the next month or two.
With the announcement of the new Focus system, it's clear that we're losing Energy Overflow. This has been a staple of so many builds since Focus initially released, and those builds are now non-functional without a designated EV Trin/Harrow, lots of energy pads, or Arcane Energize. These alternatives are either extremely expensive or require one of the four players to switch to a completely support based frame, both of which are large sacrifices.
My question to you is what are your thoughts on the current 'energy economy'? Is there an intentional plan/design behind it?
Can't wait to see a official Dev page some where on the essential site! Let's all hope it is a few days and not a few months like the phone release!
One more question regarding Android O, will you guys offer a beta channel like Android?
With all big changes we try to look at the systems it affects. We will be reviewing the use of this Focus ability and see if we still require it and if we do.. where can that ability live if it no longer fits within the new Focus system. Arcanes come to mind as a great place for something like this to go. One thing we failed to mention is new Arcanes will not be locked behind the Trials game play. So they will be someone easier to collect. (TBD on location) - Scott, Design Director.
We're thinking about it. Upvote if you'd be in! -Rebecca
Its been a while since we heard about Shield Gating. Have you made any progress design wise? I understand it will take a lot of time and balancing.
Edit: Also, what are the major challenges with it?
Will this Android O update include Project Treble?
It hasn't made much progress - we do continue to argue about what the best way to implement it is. The challenges are really in the fact that no one really likes the OHKO, but deciding if this feature is the best way to solve that.
Yes, but some of our HALs will be passthrough when we release O. We are committed to doing better and better over time, but we also want to get O to you as soon as possible. -Rebecca
How was the "umbra" series designed in the first place? what was the inspiration?
I know it was stated that a case isnt needed for this phone, but for those that WANT a case, any chance we can get one from you guys? From what I've seen, your design team is top notch and I would love to see a case designed by y'all.
With Excalibur Prime on Founders lockdown in the Global build, we were tasked to create a version of Excalibur Prime for the China PC build...but it had to be different. Our Prime Warframes varied in Light and Dark colour schemes, so Mynki thought a dark version of Excalibur Prime would be cool. At the time, we were also working on PBR and newer cloth physics, and Umbra was an early test of that with extra shiny trim and a flowing syandana. The result was Excalibur Umbra. However...the concept for Umbra's design is not nearly as intriguing as our plans for it in the future. - Dave, Producer!
We are working closely with several brands to produce cases for our phone, so they'll be coming from our friends and partners and not from Essential. We play nice with others, so we're supporting lots of requests from accessory companies!- Linda
Any updates on the team's experiments with Vulkan? I know it's highly unlikely that we'll get a Linux port, but even using Vulkan will give us Linux users an easier time running Warframe within WINE.
Edit: Also, will Sunday Steve make a return at some point?
Hi Andy - thanks for coming in... Team Essential - thanks to you too. I was on the fence until the latest camera and patch releases. Please understand how important it is for your customers that you guys live up to your promises i.e. delivering useful bug fixes and timely updates. To that effect, how can we participate in a support feedback loop? How can we send bugs and enhancement requests directly to the team and feel like we are part of the product improvement process? Thanks!
If I survive PoE I will try and stream again.
Vulkan is something we want to look at, hopefully in 2018 we can drop DX9 which would give us more breathing room to implement something like Vulkan.
- Steve, Creative Director
Thank you! We are going to keep rolling out those updates to you and we are definitely paying attention to your feedback. We're also working on a plan to support developers. Keep those comments coming!
Can we expect Essential PH-1 to be released in Europe? Looking for a new phone and the Essential Phone would be perfect!
Working on it as a priority. -andyR
A couple questions DE! THANK YOU!
Question about focus schools. If the schools completely change and we prefer a different school with this next update, will we be able to get a lens respec? I have Greater Zenurik lenses installed on a solid amount of my gear, I spent lots of plat on that and I would hate to buy new lenses only to replace the ones I already have. Any thoughts on this?
Will we be able to sell resources at CETUS? For any players with millions of resources with no direction for them?
Will there be a companion representing the "beasts" of the plain such as the birds? To tame an animal, a flying, live companion would be amazing and would allow for lots of creativity to create the dynamic between bird and frame/operator.
With the saving of the progress in the Plains, even though it's a massive area, does that mean there are a finite number of resources? Or will resources respawn randomly?
While CETUS is surrounded by water so traveling outside by land is "impossible" how do you control our flight over the outside borders of CETUS?
Are the LTE reception problems on the essential phone fixable in software?
Regarding your last question, there is a giant containment field that traps the Eidolon (and you) within the 9km squared landscape.
As for your first one, the Lens respec is a really good point and we should consider it in the respec conversation.
We have not heard of reception issues. We tested favorably vs. the competition in the labs. I'll have someone reach out and get your logs. - andyR
If you guys ran an underground boxing ring, who would be champion at DE?
Will Essential support ROMs and custom development by releasing the kernel source code and boot.img?
Will Essential support an upgrade program involving trade-ins for a discounted price on newer models?
Ps. I'm really enjoying the PH-1 right now, appreciate addressing bugs in software and feel camera is pretty good now! Thanks!
Yes on ROMs. Not sure about trades-in yet. Startups need usually need to gain traction before that's financially possible. -andyR
Once POE is launched and established, what's the ETA (if any) on another open-space area, and is there any chance of a corpus city being a future open-world map?
When do you plan on open sourcing the Essential connector?
We have a reference design almost complete. Once ready, it will be made available to 3rd parties so they can easily integrate our connector into their products. This works for hobbyists as well! -andyR
Are acolytes returning? It's been 7 month and we really wanna see them again
Hello Mr. Rubin,
So what do you think are going to be the most exciting new developments in smartphone technology in the coming years?
They will be back.. eventually. Plains of Eidolon is a huge brain sink for all of us haha, we haven't forgot about the Acolytes though!
Do you expect Plains of Eidolon to increase the rig requirements to run the game smoothly? Will players be able to see the same framerate/quality of resolution in Eidolon as they do in normal grid missions? Thanks guys
Why remove the headphone jack?
Some people consider it 'essential', what's your team take on that?
We have been using the same tools and hardware to monitor performance in PoE as we have across the rest of the game, and we've actually had it running on our minspec machines for quite some time. At the moment there is no reason for us to believe that players should be required to upgrade their systems for this update. This is largely due to the new tech that has been added to the engine to reduce the amount of stress that PoE's content has on lower end hardware. With that said, we are still working on optimizing this update for a wide range of PC specs (as well as consoles) and will continue to do so even after it has shipped.
- Dmitri, Performance QA
Headphone jacks are pretty big components and they don't play nice with all-screen Phone architectures. We studied it very seriously, but fitting a headphone jack into our Phone required tradeoffs we were uncomfortable with. We'd have grow a huge "chin" in the display and reduce the battery capacity by 10%, or we'd need a huge headphone bump! We decided it was more important to have a beautiful full-screen display in a thin device with solid battery life. Then we made sure we to build ya'll a high-quality DAC in a tiny adapter that can elegantly live on your headphones. - Dave
What part of Plains are the staff most excited about?
With the changes to focus schools will there be any way to increase energy regen on casters so that you don't have to spam energy pizzas.
With the new crop of phones slated for release before the holiday season what do you see as the primary points that will allow the Essential Phone to compete?
Boss battles - Sarah, QA
Writing my name in the mining tool - Dmitri, Performance QA
Long range sniper weps making sense finally. :P (or not, depending if our AI and culled stuff messes with this ) - /u/DE_Killerkarpfen, Level Design
Design, materials, expandability, stock android, fast updates, open mentality. -andyR
Oddly enough, all of my questionsrevolve around my absolute favourite frame Volt:
Will the damage cap on discharge be changed for Discharge at any point? Or at the very least, make it keep the enemy stunned until the duration has actually expired.
Why is the drain on picking up and moving electric shield tied to movement? It actively fights against speed which promotes movement, whereas picking up the shieldd discourages you from using an entire power.
Is there anything pertaining to a volt deluxe skin in the works at all? Even super rough sketches? Because right now he's the only frame of the original 8 to not have publicly revealed art for a deluxe skin. Mag and Ember have their arts released bu the other 5 all have skins in the game itself.
Are there still no plans to increase the decoration cap in our ships? While I'd personally love to fill my ship with EVEN MORE VOLT NOGGLES, I don't doubt that even more decorations will be added in future and would be nice to have additional space just in case there are some who are reaching the current cap as of now.
And a very, VERY selfish one that's not even remotely related to volt.. Will we be seeing a return of the kavasa prime fur pattern that came out with trinity prime in the near future? It's the one thing I deeply miss from when I played on ps4 that I had to leave behind when I switched to PC in december 2016. Mostly just so I can finish the recreation of the kubrow I had on PS4. Perhaps some sort of forma-related bet or something, I dunno. I just really want that fur
Is there any possibilities to make a transparent ceramic glass? That's pretty solid.
It is not possible in Zirconia ceramic (what the phone has today), unfortunately. Interesting idea though! - Linda
People have also been reporting worse cell signal strength than other phones in areas that don't have the best reception. Would this be fixable on your end?
They won't to start, they have what we're calling 'Amps' internally. These are component based weapons that focus your innate Tenno energy in ways you can customize.
Coverage is a complex issue. We are always looking for feedback on problem locations so that we can field test to fix issues which are software based. Its hard to look just at signal strength when comparing phones. For instance, which cell tower is serving you may be different even though you are in the same location with two phones. When we performed field testing sometimes we would score better than reference phones sometimes worse. We are a bit more conservative on signal bars. Which, unfortunately, there is no standard for on mobile devices. But, please let us know the locations and we can take a look -Joe
What has been your favorite memory from the past (almost) 5 years?
What devices would you cite as an influence on the Ph-1? The shape of the edges reminds me of the iPhone 4.
War Within & Harrow Quests - Sarah, QA
Tennocon's got to be on there - Dmitri, Performance QA
Watching the fans during the PoE reveal. And working on Hydroid powers, that was a huge shift in what was normal for us. - Jeremy, FX
Helping to bring Clem to life from a fan-made comic was a lot of fun - Whirrr, Design
Seeing that people care :) - Rebecca, Community
We actually designed the device from scratch and did not take influence from other devices. The details are all there for a good reason. Our side walls are straight in order to reduce the amount of visual and physical border around the display. We actually took many, many weeks just to lock on the appropriate corner radius- just round enough to feel approachable and human, but also tight enough to allow for as many pixels in the corners as possible. Hope that helps - Linda
Are we ever gonna get Ordis Prime / voice packs for Ordis?
Fair enough, but I didn't accuse you of copying. Nothing is designed in a vacuum and all that.
I would love to do voice packs for Ordis at some point. I think for starters we will be giving him some new Landing Craft lines at the very least. - George, Sound Design
Totally know what you mean- Especially in the smartphone industry where everything is starting to look a like because 50% of the phone is now display. For us, it was less about taking influences from other devices, but taking influences from meaningful experiences and good human-product interactions. - Linda
So with the new Arcanes, what is going to happen to old Arcanes, will they be changed in any way? and if so, will we see significant changes?
- Android 8 and Project Treble status/ETA?
- Would Essential consider a Beta OS program similar to Google and OnePlus?
- What's the current focus for software issues like touch responsiveness (improved/tweaked palm rejection?) and micro-stuttering when scrolling. (EDIT: scrolling still seems to stutter in the new build. See video by u/tlxxxsracer - https://youtu.be/dbw_TUnfXuU) Is Essential already looking to Android 8 or is Essential still working on 7.1.1?
- Will Essential release the kernel source for the PH-1? Perhaps even use GitHub to back up Essential's ethos of the product belonging to those who purchased it? :)
- Can Essential offer Advanced RMAs to customers who are willing to have a hold on their credit card? I've heard of reports of others having it offered but it's been tough getting timely responses about it. I'm not sure about the status of my own RMA at the moment.
- Comment: Great build and great design on the PH-1!
We are currently leaving old Arcanes intact but stay tuned!
- 2 months-ish
- Yes, we want to -- it's on the list.
- Fixing as fast as we can. Should refer to rebecca's response on this. It's getting better daily.
- Good idea. Derek and Nelson will look into this.
- Team is smiling
In no specific order:
How will the new Operator abilities play into the existing Kuva siphons?
I think the new PoE alerts should be named "flashpoints" or "hotspots"
Will the update name be changed, since it will easily get confused with the other PoE.
Thank you so much!
When will the essential phone dock be available?
1-Not locked down yet, but should
2-Thank you for this!
3-Probably not :( but agree its confusing
-Steve, Creative Director!
We are planning on having the dock out shortly. Our final prototype build is this month and we will have it available for purchase after we run through reliability testing -Joe
Is it stressful that people compare most free to plays to you? Most free to plays are no where near the quality of warframe, and being a founder from the near beginning I have seen you guys grow so much.
When can we expect more information and the release of the Essential Home? How will it integrate with the Essential Phone?
Nope not at all. We think the business model is the future and if we can change some players minds as we grow and develop to give other devs the chance we think that is great. -Scott, Design Director
I'm particularly excited about the home product. It has the potential to unify all the disparate devices in your home, including your phone! Not quite ready to talk details, but development is going well and we'll have something to show soon.
Drop tests have shown the screen to shatter quite easily on the PH-1. Are you taking that into consideration for the next generation phone?
Also, how often do you see Essential releasing new phone models?
Right now we have legacy support for DX9 that we want to phase out before we add new APIs. We have lots of good new rendering tech coming with Plains of Eidolon though :)
We have performed drop tests to industry standards and have performed as well or better to other devices. We are always looking to improve reliability and test to standards to improve the customer experience. -Joe
Hello Mr. Rubin
So one of my biggest frustrations with smartphones is that it seems like every year we get all these exciting new features, but battery life is seemingly stuck at barely squeezing by one day. Do you think this would possibly change in smartphones in the future in the way we'll get a breakthrough and get possibly several days of battery life?
Not for now, they are designed for space combat and will severely disrupt the atmosphere of the Plains if the players was to unleash them.
This is one of the dilemmas for product designers. We could easily make the device thicker to accommodate a larger battery. But consumers don't like thick devices. (we can also make them a lot thinner, but they'd only last a few hours). The product designers typically take a "just right" approach, which equals one day... - andyR
This one goes to Steve and Scott Specifically: Do you guys feel that working on this game and dealing with the community through Rebecca has been an enlightening experience? How do you guys not burn out when rage-threads happen?
When will the phone be released in Sweden or in Europe with an EU plug?
The community team does a good job of translating vitriol into actionable feedback which we are always open to (but also Scotch) - Steve
Tooling for the EU plug for the power adapter is underdevelopment now. First shots will be here this month. - Joe
Manufacturing is insanely hard, especially when you're a new player and when you're working with new materials and tech.
- What were some specific challenges you faced with working with ceramic and titanium?
- Lots of current devices suffer from various defects: speaker mesh tearing, gaps in assembly, pins being too deep, etc. What are you guys doing to address these issues going forward?
Ivara or get out! (Nidus is pretty cool to tho) - DE_Killerkarpfen, Design
Vauban - Ben, Design
Me and Clint default to Nezha for testing purposes - good for entering/exiting missions quickly - Connor, Community QA
Nekros (is metal and helps me with perf) - Dmitri, Performance QA
Manufacturing is always a challenge and new materials make it more of a challenge. For instance, CNC'ing titanium is much more difficult because of heat build up vs. Aluminum. We have a quality plans in place to address the some of the issues you mention. -Joe
Hey, thanks for everything you've done so far!
If you can say without revealing too much, what was the most challenging aspect of developing the Plains of Eidolon update?
Is this an error that i couldn't buy from Puerto Rico from essential.com even though it's available through other channels (amazon, best buy, sprint) ? Tried to contact support but didn't get an answer.
For all departments the scope landscape/huge terrain and view distance has impacted them - we've never attempted this and it slammed all departments with unique challenges (performance! open area with nothing to do! massive monsters!) - Steve!
Please PM us and we can see what we can do -Joe
Will the cetus daily standing limit be shared with the syndicates standing? And will there be other ways to earn them besides the jobs? If no, the jobs will be refreshed daily?
Any plans to offer an subscription upgrade plan similar to Apple's? (Pay $30/month and always have the latest iPhone)
Currently no we don't have a Syndicate Standing limit for the Cetus Syndicates, this could change with testing. The Jobs refreshes daily giving you new job types to try out. All activities inside Cetus and the plains have a chance to add or reduce the amount of standing you have. - Scott, Design Director.
Have thought specifically about HaaS models. Nothing to announce just yet :-) - andyR
Is a bird companion planned at all in the future? Also, will there be more enemy vehicles besides the dropships we saw in preview?
Bird companions.. maybe one day. We want it.
For enemy vehicles right now they are all aircraft... you haven't seen them all yet!