White Houses and Yellow Ferris Wheels

Welcome to this week’s roundup! We’ve got some follow-up on big stories like the WannaCry virus and Whole Foods buyout as well as a new Android flagship, meetings between the White House and technology executives, lots of tidbits, and more. Here’s what you need to know in tech this week.


Follow-Up

  • Potentially in response to Facebook’s blog post last week outlining its approach to combatting terrorism on its platform, Google this week released a similar post outlining its four-fold approach: artificial intelligence, an increase in human flaggers, harsher policies for borderline content, and a greater focus on anti-radicalization. Social networks are increasingly coming under fire for the role their platforms play in the dissemination of terrorist content online, and it is encouraging to see this commitment to transparency and increased effort to fight the spread of terrorism from companies like Facebook and Google.
  • The WannaCry ransomware attack that made headlines last month when it crippled hospitals in the United Kingdom hasn’t been fully eradicated. This week, a Honda plant was infected and forced to shut down for a day.
  • The fight for net neutrality gained a very prominent ally this week in U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and most likely lost the support of the blogging platform Tumblr due to its acquisition by Verizon as a part of the Yahoo deal.
  • Apple dealt a huge blow to its graphical processor supplier Imagination Technologies when the company announced intentions to develop its own GPUs, and apparently things have gotten so bad that Imagination has put itself up for sale. No word yet on who might acquire it, but it would be a good move for Apple’s public relations and GPU development to buy the company after practically putting it out of business.
  • Last week’s announcement that Amazon is buying Whole Foods may spell trouble for Instacart, a food delivery startup that holds a contract as the exclusive delivery service of Whole Foods. This puts the company in direct competition with Amazon’s own food delivery ambitions, which will presumably be bolstered by its new relationship with Whole Foods.

Uber: A Company with No Leadership


White House Technology Week


OnePlus 5, Now with More Cameras!


Snapchat, Maps, and a Ferris Wheel?


Tidbits


And that’s this week’s biggest technology news. Predictions for next week: Something new will go wrong at Uber, Instagram will copy Snapchat Maps, and the Galaxy Note 8 will be cancelled before it’s ever announced because they can’t get the test units to stop exploding. OK, maybe all of those things won’t happen, but whatever does happen, rest assured that Prosumable will be here to tell you all about it. As usual, thank you for reading, I’d love to hear your comments, and I hope you’ll come back next week for more tech news!

Saying Goodbye to Yahoo (and Probably Uber)

Between the finalization of Yahoo’s sale to Verizon, video game announcements at the E3 conference, and the continued Uber meltdown, this was a big week in technology, and we’ve got a jam-packed roundup to go along with it. Here’s what happened in tech this week.


Follow-Up

  • After receiving harsh criticism for seemingly backing down on net neutrality, Netflix has reversed course and officially joined Fight for the Future in planning the Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. The last time net neutrality was under fire, Netflix—then a much smaller and more susceptible company—was one of the leaders in the fight. It’s reassuring to know that the company is sticking to its principles even though it has far less to lose now.
  • In part one of a series entitled Hard Questions, Facebook is opening up about its policies on battling terrorism on its platform. The article outlines how the company is working to fight terrorism through artificial intelligence, human intercession, and partnering with other organizations. This sort of openness is welcome and probably necessary at a time when the role of social media in the spreading of terrorist messages and ideology is at the forefront of public discourse.

Yahoo Is No More

  • This week, we bid farewell to one of the staples of the early internet. Yahoo has officially sold to Verizon and will merge with AOL to become a new entity called Oath. Yahoo has been on the decline for years, facing decreases in active user counts and multiple high-profile hacks that put user data at risk.
  • Now, the newly-formed Oath has to decide who stays and who goes. Given that there will inevitably be a lot of redundancy between Yahoo’s staff and AOL’s, these cuts are most likely going to be brutal, costing up to 1,000 jobs.
  • One notable individual out of a job is former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who admirably tried to turn the company around and then brokered the sale to Verizon when it became clear that Yahoo couldn’t survive on its own. Mayer published a moving goodbye letter on her Tumblr blog highlighting the company’s accomplishments during her term. In an interview, she also noted her excitement about being free to use Gmail instead of the much-maligned Yahoo email service.
  • We’re also likely to see shutdowns of many of the company’s less profitable services over the coming weeks. Yahoo’s eSports division, which was just opened last year, has been announced as the first major casualty of the merger.
  • The company was once an internet giant, and it’s easy to feel nostalgic for the days when Yahoo Messenger was relevant, but being on top usually leads to complacency, and that was certainly the case here. Recent attempts to catch up, such as the purchase of blogging platform Tumblr and the company’s failed attempt at creating original TV content, just weren’t enough to keep it afloat. (I will forever be grateful to them for giving us the sixth season of Community, though.)

E3: Gamers Gonna Game

  • Each summer, the major players in the video game industry get together to talk about their plans for the upcoming year. It’s always a mix of announcements concerning console updates, upcoming games, platform improvements, and more, and this year stuck to that formula.
  • Microsoft finally unveiled their next console, dubbed the Xbox One X. It has a smaller form factor than the current One S, but otherwise, it looks the same, and its big new feature is support for 4K games. It’ll be available in November for $500.
  • This trend towards more iterative console updates rather than full-fledged generational leaps is an interesting one and may indicate that console gaming has nearly reached its technological peak. That is, of course, until virtual reality gaming becomes feasible for everyday consumers.
  • Nintendo made a slew of game announcements for the Nintendo Switch that covered almost every major property the company owns: Mario, Kirby, Yoshi, and even more Zelda. Metroid fans will be pleased to know that Metroid 4 is coming to the Switch next year. And a full-fledged Pokémon RPG was announced with no clear release date.
  • Sony featured its own set of exclusive games, including Spider-Man, Call of Duty, and the upcoming Uncharted sequel.
  • PC gamers weren’t left out of the fun, with hardware and software announcements all around. My personal favorite is Logitech’s new mouse pad, which will keep your mouse charged up while you play.
  • And cross-platform gaming seemed to be a theme this year, with Microsoft announcing the unification of their various Minecraft platforms into one set of servers and Sony announcing PlayLink, which allows for interaction between mobile phones and the PlayStation 4 console.
  • Bonus: Atari is apparently still a thing, and they’re teasing mysterious plans to get back into creating video game hardware. Maybe they’ll come up with something noteworthy?

Oh, Uber


Walt’s Last Stand

  • As has been noted in a previous roundup, Walt Mossberg, the father of consumer technology journalism, is retiring this month and winding down a long, impeccable career.
  • His final public appearance of his career was a live recording of his podcast Ctrl-Walt-Delete in New York. Both the audio and the video from the event are available to stream.
  • The Verge also released a series of videos in which Walt shows off notable gadgets from his collection and discusses their history and impact.
  • The technology and media industries owe Walt Mossberg a gigantic debt of gratitude. He is an adept writer, an insightful thinker, and a champion of consumer education and rights. He will be dearly missed, but his impact and influence will continue to be felt throughout the technology industry for years to come. Thank you, Walt, for the incredible work that you’ve done. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Tidbits


And that’s all the tech news you need to know this week. As always, there’s more that could be said, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was there a story that came out this week that piqued your interest? How do you feel about the whole Uber mess? Comment on this post or hit up Prosumable on social media to join the conversation.

As always, we’ll be back next week with another tech news roundup. Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

iPad 2.0

Fair warning: This week’s roundup is pretty Apple-heavy. I’d apologize if technology journalists had talked about anything else this week, but the company’s WWDC announcements have pretty much dominated the media. We’ll also cover the latest in Uber’s downward spiral and the role of technology in the recent terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom. And of course, we’ll finish up with a few fun tidbits. Here’s what happened in tech this week.


WWDC: Apple’s Big Week

  • This week, Apple held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference and kicked off the event with a keynote chock-full of major announcements.
  • The biggest announcement was iOS 11, Apple’s new mobile operating system that brings enhancements to the iPhone and basically reimagines the iPad entirely. New features include a redesigned App Store, the ability to send peer-to-peer payments through Apple Pay, a unified Siri across your devices, an augmented reality developer kit, and much more. On the iPad front, iOS 11 introduces a file management system (the first for the platform), a persistent app dock, improved multitasking, and a drag-and-drop feature for moving information between apps. Basically, the iPad can actually serve as a proper laptop replacement now. Or it will when iOS 11 drops this fall.
  • macOS High Sierra, an iterative update to Apple’s current desktop operating system, was also previewed. Most of the changes for Mac software this year are under hood, including the new Apple File System that takes advantage of modern hardware, a more compressed standard for 4K video encoding called High Efficiency Video Coding, virtual reality support, and built-in anti-tracking software in the Safari browser. Like iOS 11, macOS High Sierra is coming in the fall.
  • Apple additionally updated watchOS with a Siri watch face and fitness improvements as well as announcing that Amazon Prime Video is coming to the next version of tvOS.
  • But just as interesting as the software updates were the hardware announcements. These included a new iPad Pro that has a 10.5-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, processor improvements for the MacBook Pro and MacBook lines, more powerful graphics cards for the iMac, and the upcoming iMac Pro, a beautiful space grey beast with specs geared towards the most demanding of power users and a price tag to match. I’ve never so badly wanted a computer that I’ll never ever own.
  • And to no one’s surprise, Apple announced that they’re entering the smart speaker game with the $350 HomePod. They are trying to differentiate this product from other smart speakers by marketing it as a high-quality speaker and from other high-quality speakers by marketing it as a smart speaker. It remains to be seen how they navigate the line between the two, but if Apple’s track record is any indication, they can make something that is both elegant and technologically groundbreaking.
  • I know this seems like a lot, but it only scratches the surface of everything Apple announced during the 2.5-hour keynote. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the event page on Apple’s website and watch the video of the keynote if you have time. I certainly enjoyed it.

Uber: Hirings, Firings, and More Bad News


Terrorism and Social Media

  • In response to recent terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for stricter regulation of the internet and social media companies that she claims create a “safe space” for terrorists.
  • It is undeniable that terrorist groups take advantage of social media to spread their messages of hate and recruit new members (a process often called “radicalization”), but social media companies claim that they are doing all they can to keep terrorism off of their platforms through both automated content flagging and human review.
  • The problem lies in social media’s commitment to free speech and its reluctance to commit censorship of any kind. Where do these companies draw the line between self-expression and terrorism? And even if they can come up with hard-line policies (or have these policies placed on them by governments as Prime Minister May suggests), how can they enforce them over such massive platforms?
  • We can all agree that we don’t want terrorists using the internet for their benefit. But no one seems to be able to agree on exactly how that should be accomplished. Regulators and company executives are going to have to find a way to work together to eliminate (or at least reduce) terrorist activity online.
  • U. S. Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents the district including Silicon Valley, reached out to May requesting a meeting with her over this issue. Perhaps this will be the first step towards an international effort to unite the governments of the world with Silicon Valley executives in the fight against terrorism.

Tidbits


And that’s all the tech news you need to know this week. Now you can go out and eagerly anticipate all the little changes that will be coming to your iPhone in the fall (or is that just me?). I’m still trying to figure out the exact format of the roundups, so if you have thoughts on the level of focus on big stories as opposed to tidbits (or vice versa), I’d love to hear them! I’m also always happy to discuss any technology news or trends that spark your interest. You can reach me anytime on social media or in the comments on this post. Until next week, thanks for reading the Prosumable technology news roundup!

Conferences and Cryptocurrencies

Another week, another round of tech news and updates! This week includes two big conferences, a brand-new phone company, and lots of buzz around cryptocurrency, not to mention some fun tidbits. Here’s what happened in tech this week.


Gadgets and Gizmos at Computex


Code Conference: Current Issues in Media and Technology


This Phone Is Essential


Bitcoin Bubble?

  • The market value of Bitcoin is skyrocketing right now, which has thrust it into the public spotlight and left many wondering if they should invest.
  • Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, basically a digital wrapper that you can put around real-world money that can then be transferred to others via the internet. It’s open, unregulated, and difficult to track, which makes its appeal online quite wide.
  • While Bitcoin is enjoying some very public success at the moment, its value isn’t based on any standard other than its own scarcity and is thus highly unstable.
  • In addition, the currency’s risk of being hacked and competition from other cryptocurrencies have deterred many from investing.
  • While Bitcoin does have some practical applications and has made a few of its early adopters rich (at least for now), its lack of security and stability seem to outweigh any potential gains one might get from investing in it. But that hasn’t stopped many from jumping onboard. Now, everyone’s watching to see if Bitcoin can hold steady in the midst of its newfound public attention.

People Suing People

  • In a move that some find shocking and others claim was inevitable, Uber fired Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of its ongoing legal battle with Google-owned Waymo. Levandowski is accused of stealing information on Waymo’s self-driving cars and then using it in his work at Uber. He has refused to testify in the case, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights and practically implicating Uber in the process.
  • An another front, Uber this week is supposed to have received the report on its internal investigation concerning allegations of sexual misconduct among the staff. This information will almost certainly never reach the public, but it will hopefully lead to some much-needed changes in the company’s leadership, which has been riddled with sexual misconduct allegations.
  • Uber is not alone in dealing with sexual misconduct allegations, though. This week, Tesla fired AJ Vandermeyden, the engineer who opened a lawsuit against the company last year over claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Now, she can add retaliation to her list of accusations, all of which the company denies.
  • And Google, which is currently being sued by the Department of Labor for alleged gender wage inequality, claimed that providing the government with salary data is just too expensive and complicated. That’s a pretty lame excuse coming from a company built on collecting and processing data.

Follow-Up: AlphaGo and Wannacry


Tidbits


And that’s what you need to know about this week in tech. Next week is ramping up to be a busy one with Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference and the inevitable Paris Deal fallout, so come back next Saturday for another Prosumable news roundup. Until then, thanks for reading and have a great week!

Cars Are Gadgets Now

Thanks for checking out the second edition of the Prosumable weekly roundup, your source for the technology news you need to know. This week, we’re discussing Microsoft’s new Surface Pro, impending changes to the way we approach driving and car ownership, and what each of the major social media companies are up to. Here’s what happened in tech this week.


Follow-Up: Net Neutrality and WannaCry


Microsoft Surface Pro: Now with USB-C Dongles!


The Fight for the Future of Driving


Artificial Intelligence Continues Making Leaps


Goodbyes Are Hard

  • Walt Mossberg, the man single-handedly responsible for creating the genre of consumer technology news, recently announced that he is retiring soon after a long, impeccable career.
  • This week, Walt published his final weekly column for The Verge, in which he discusses his big prediction for the future of technology: ambient computing. The article is worth reading in full, but the gist is that we are moving towards a Star Trek-like world where computers seemingly disappear into the environments around us, allowing us to accomplish tasks that currently require a screen without using any sort of interface or even worrying which device we’re working on.
  • This was also Walt’s last week to host his podcast Ctrl-Walt-Delete. In the last episode, he dives even deeper into ambient computing and comments on the state of each of the big technology companies as they stand today.
  • There are still a few more opportunities to hear Walt speak, however. He’s agreed to do an interview at next week’s Code Conference, and he’ll be recording a live version of Ctrl-Walt-Delete in New York City on June 9.
  • Walt’s impact on technology and media cannot be understated, and his big-picture reflections during these last few weeks of his career are nothing short of invaluable. I think this web comic from Geek Culture pretty accurately sums up the devastation techies are feeling as we say goodbye to the father of consumer tech media.

Social Media Check-In


Tidbits

  • Bloomberg did a piece and a podcast episode this week on the differences between American consumers and Chinese consumers when it comes to paid digital content. Even though paid digital content like apps, app subscriptions, and in-app purchases haven’t caught on as quickly in the U.S. as in China, the trend is starting to take hold here and will only continue to grow as more consumers recognize the real-world value of paid digital content.
  • The U. S. Supreme court ruled that plaintiffs will no longer be allowed to file lawsuits outside the jurisdiction of the companies they’re suing. This is important because it puts a stop to the common practice by “patent trolls” of filing lawsuits in areas where courts tend to lean towards plaintiffs or that are too far away for smaller companies to fight lawsuits in a financially-viable way.
  • According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, America’s favorite smartphone is the tiny, outdated iPhone SE, which beat out the Galaxy S6 edge+ at number two and the iPhone 7 Plus at number three. Maybe there really is still demand for phones with smaller screens.
  • A group of white hat hackers (the good kind) proved that they are able to trick the Galaxy S8’s iris scanner with a photo and a contact lens. While not surprising, this is worrisome since Samsung claims iris scanning is the most secure way to keep the data on the S8 safe. You might want to stick with your fingerprint for now, or even a traditional passcode.
  • T-Mobile launched a new feature called Digits this week. It allows customers to use their phone numbers across multiple devices or to use multiple numbers on one device without the need for extra SIM card ports. The features is available to all T-Mobile subscribers starting May 31. While T-Mobile as a company has proven to be untrustworthy at best, their innovations are exciting and will hopefully push other networks to implement similar features soon.
  • The Verge put out a feature on what a definition of “the web” should and should not include. In the midst of all the talk about net neutrality and threats to the open web posed by the FCC, this piece offers an important perspective on the ways that technology companies themselves are sometime working to close off the web in more subtle, but equally dangerous, ways.

That’s this week in tech. Thank you for checking out this edition of the roundup, and a huge thanks to everyone who’s reached out over the past week with support, questions, and feedback on the launch. If you’d like to discuss any of this week’s stories, or if you have a suggestion for the site, feel free to comment on this post, reach out via our contact page, or hit us up on social media. We hope you’re finding the information on Prosumable to be helpful, and we’d love to hear how we can make the site as useful a resource as possible. See you again next week for another technology news roundup!