Surprise, surprise. It’s another edition of the Prosumable tech news roundup! This week, we’re covering Apple tax drama, controversial changes at Twitter, and the return of our “car stuff” segment. Here’s what you need to know.
- Remember when the FCC made your internet browsing data a commodity for your internet service provider to sell? Well, some states have laws that block such practices, and Verizon is now asking the FCC to overturn those laws as well. Can you say “thirsty?”
- We don’t have a full story on the Russia investigation this week, but this article is worth noting: This week’s Paradise Papers uncovered the fact that both Facebook and Twitter once received investment money from banks with ties to the Russian government.
- But Congress is interested in more than just Russia. This week it was announced that former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is being subpoenaed to testify about the hack that put all of the company’s customers at risk.
- President Trump might be interfering with the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, but not for antitrust reasons. He just hates CNN that much.
- Equifax wants to set things right with the millions of Americans they exposed to identity theft by… making an app?
- Google’s search algorithm failed users yet again in the wake of a mass shooting, this time with a little help from Twitter. This week, Google was turning up results pointing to a conspiracy theory on Twitter about the Sutherland Springs shooter’s political ties instead of offering real, helpful information.
- Amazon’s new Key in-home delivery service isn’t massively popular among Prime subscribers, but 5 percent of them are onboard.
- Google released a software fix this week to address the Pixel 2 XL’s many screen deficiencies. But will it be enough to re-ignite the momentum over their new phone?
- Another big reveal from those Paradise Papers: Apple has a new tax haven. After the European Union cracked down on the company’s use of Ireland as a place to store money without paying taxes, Apple apparently ran a secret operation to find somewhere new and landed on the island of Jersey.
- In response, Apple released a statement claiming that they pay every cent of tax they owe. The company also pointed out that they are the largest taxpayer in the world. It could all be corporate nonsense to cover up getting caught, but the company at least claims to be doing the right thing.
- Some of the confusion and frustration stems from the fact that Apple is an international company, and it is not always clear how much they owe to which country. Most of their creative and design work is done in the United States, but production takes place mostly in China and Taiwan, and products are sold literally everywhere. Is it possible that Apple is cheating the system to save money? Sure. But it’s also possible that they’re just trying to ensure that they give the right amount of money to the right people.
- Apple had a win in the courtroom this week. The U.S. Supreme Court turned down Samsung’s appeal in their ongoing lawsuit with Apple over features that Samsung copied from the original iPhone. Now, it just has to be decided how much Samsung will have to pay out. But I don’t think the money really matters to either company, as even the maximum fine is pocket change to both.
- Apple’s lawyers can’t rest just yet, though. An Israeli dual-lens technology company called Corephotonics is suing Apple, claiming that the cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus infringe on their patents. Apparently, Apple did have conversations with the company and even considered buying them at one point but ended up purchasing a competitor instead.
- The rumor mill started buzzing again about the augmented reality glasses that Apple is supposedly working on. Could we see them within the next couple of years?
- The company has added another big show to is upcoming slate of original content, beating out Netflix for a show about morning television starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.
- And some analysts are predicting that Apple could become the world’s only trillion dollar company as soon as next year.
Snap Can’t Bounce Back
- Snapchat parent company Snap held its quarterly earnings report this week, and it’s worse than anyone even imagined.
- On top of stalled user growth, the company lost $40 million on Spectacles, its first foray into the hardware space. Not good for a camera company.
- CEO Evan Spiegel believes that part of Snapchat’s problem is its unintuitive interface, so a massive overhaul is coming next month that the company hopes will make the product more welcoming to new users.
- Oh, and long-time head of engineering Tim Sehn is leaving the company right before this big change, so that’s reassuring.
- It’s not all bad news on the financial front, though. Tencent, the Chinese company that owns WeChat, invested more money in Snap this week, adding 12% of the company to its portfolio. So at least someone still believes in them.
- Snapchat’s reputation as a sexting app is coming back around, this time catching the attention of law enforcement as a platform for sexual predators to solicit images of children. While Snapchat has been able to avoid certain scandals (like the fake news thing), this is an issue all social sites have to deal with, and all I have to say is shut. this. down.
- Uber’s new CEO released the new set of corporate values, called the “rules of the road” this week, which included the statement, “We do the right thing. Period.” Seems a lot more appropriate than, “Always be hustlin’.”
- The company plans to bring its flying cars to Los Angeles in 2020 that will travel from rooftop to rooftop in order to avoid congested traffic.
- Uber seems to have bounced back from the Delete Uber campaign, but it’s still losing market share to Lyft (who, by the way, is losing their COO).
- Las Vegas has permanently implemented a self-driving shuttle in its downtown district. Too bad somebody already ran it over.
- We may have been surprised to find out that Dyson was getting into the car business, but Tesla wasn’t. Apparently, the company hired a former Dyson engineer two years ago who blabbed about the project. And this is why we have non-compete agreements.
- Waymo is testing autonomous ride-hailing with no backup safety driver behind the wheel. This is the technology that will make ride-hailing affordable for everyone. Where do I sign up?
Twitter Enrages Everyone (Again)
- The unimaginable has finally happened. Twitter doubled its character limit to 280 characters for all users this week, and no one is happy about it. The character limit has always been one of the platform’s defining traits, and many users are sad to see it go.
- The company also increased the number of characters that users can put into their display names, a change that has been used exclusively to make fun of the update.
- In other bad news for Twitter, two college students have developed a bot-detecting app that’s better at rooting out fake accounts than Twitter’s own services.
- But there is still some good happening on the platform: Let me introduce you to Cloud Twitter, a place for strangers to share cloud photos with one another.
- I know that computer chips might sound boring, but every once in a while, stories happen in the chip space that are worth telling the world about. This week, two such stories took place.
- First, Broadcom came forward as a potential buyer for chipmaker Qualcomm. This would be the biggest tech purchase of all time, but more importantly, it could end the ongoing feud between Qualcomm and Apple that might otherwise be disastrous.
- And in a ground-breaking partnership, rival chipmakers Intel and AMD teamed up to make a Core chip with Radeon graphics. Basically, computer makers will have access to the best of both worlds, with each company focusing on the aspects of chipmaking that they do best. I’m excited to see how these hybrids perform once they’re implemented in real-world machines.
- In case you haven’t cried yet today, a blind runner was able to complete the New York marathon on his own thanks to wearable haptic technology.
- Safety concerns (and fines) are arising around Amazon’s warehouses after a second warehouse worker was killed on the job.
- The Google Play Store hosted a fake version of WhatsApp that was downloaded over a million times. Oops.
- A company that’s found success making recipe videos on Facebook is entering the food delivery space. And Postmates is taking on Amazon in the grocery delivery business. Because those things tend to work out well for people.
- Mesh WiFi router maker Eero is sweetening the deal on its subscription service, offering 1Password and VPN protection to all customers. An all-in-one internet security subscription from Eero doesn’t sound too bad.
- Amazon is getting into furniture now. Sorry, IKEA and Ashley Home, but it was only a matter of time.
- Walmart Pay is getting bigger than Apple Pay if you squint your eyes, fudge the numbers, and don’t think about it too much.
- Words with Friends 2 shows us how to do a mobile game sequel the right way.
- Speaking of following up popular mobile games, Niantic is leveraging its Pokémon Go success to launch a Harry Potter AR game next year.
- You can now watch Hulu on your Nintendo Switch. (Side note: Previously, you couldn’t watch Hulu on your Nintendo Switch.)
- This party game from BuzzFeed that forces players to send awkward texts and tweets looks dumb and fun. (Also a great way to ruin some friendships.)
And that’s this week in tech! Thank you for joining us yet again. I hope you’ll come back next week for another roundup. And if you have any questions or stories you want to talk about between now and then, feel free to reach out. See you next Saturday!