The FTC Votes Unanimously to Support Right to Repair Laws

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), under the new leadership of chairperson Lina Khan, voted unanimously to enforce Right to Repair legislation. The vote will ensure that U.S. consumers will be able to repair their own electronic and automotive devices. The FTC published a report in May excoriating manufacturers for not adhering to the Right to Repair rules, one of them the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The Right to Repair movement has been led by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and iFixit, among others. Continue reading The FTC Votes Unanimously to Support Right to Repair Laws

Valve to Launch Steam Deck Handheld Device for PC Games

This December, Washington-based game company Valve will debut its long-anticipated Steam Deck, a handheld device for PC gaming with models priced at $399 with 64GB of eMMC storage, $529 with 256GB of NVMe SSD, and the top-of-the-line $649 version with 512GB of high-speed NVMe SSD storage. Steam Deck is additionally being promoted as a handheld PC, allowing users to install and operate web browsers, other game stores (including Epic Games Store) and other video streaming services. It can also be connected to a keyboard and mouse and offers a cloud saving feature. Continue reading Valve to Launch Steam Deck Handheld Device for PC Games

AT&T Debuts 5G Partnerships at WarnerMedia Innovation Lab

Having racked up 250 million 5G customers and removed data caps from its premium unlimited plan, AT&T doubled down on a 5G future with announcements of new partnerships. “We’re at the cusp of a decade of 5G… and we’ve been working up to this point for a long time getting all of the parts in place,” said AT&T vice president and general manager David Christopher. In the process of building out its 5G ecosystem, AT&T now sells mostly 5G-enabled phones, and Christopher said the pace of adoption has quickened. Continue reading AT&T Debuts 5G Partnerships at WarnerMedia Innovation Lab

Shopify Cuts App Store Fees and Introduces Online Store 2.0

Amazon rival Shopify, which hosts online stores, announced it would no longer take a cut of the first $1 million that a developer makes on its app store. This follows similar moves by Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft that reduce app store fees for some developers, as the Big Tech companies are scrutinized by regulators and lawmakers over potential anticompetitive behavior. From August 1, developers on Shopify will keep 100 percent of their revenue from their first $1 million; the company said the benchmark will “reset” each year. Continue reading Shopify Cuts App Store Fees and Introduces Online Store 2.0

Nintendo’s New Switch Features OLED Display, More Storage

On October 8, Nintendo will debut a new $350 Switch, the first major hardware upgrade to the console originally introduced in 2017 for $299. Available in time for holiday season sales, the new Switch will feature a larger 7-inch OLED screen and 64GB of onboard storage, double the original, as well as improved audio and an adjustable stand and dock. What consumers will not find, however, is an upgrade to a 4K display, a highly anticipated feature that would match the console offerings from Microsoft and Sony. Continue reading Nintendo’s New Switch Features OLED Display, More Storage

Pentagon Cancels JEDI Contract, Reveals New Cloud Initiative

The Defense Department stated that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project “no longer meets its needs,” canceling a highly contentious $10 billion cloud computing contract awarded to Microsoft. In January, the department warned Congress that it would do so if a federal court agreed to hear whether former President Trump used his influence to award the contract to Microsoft over its rival Amazon. Such a suit, it pointed out, would result in a lengthy court cost and unacceptable delays. Instead, the Pentagon announced a new cloud program. Continue reading Pentagon Cancels JEDI Contract, Reveals New Cloud Initiative

Google and Microsoft End Truce as Ad Tech Battle Heats Up

The five-year truce between Google and Microsoft has broken down. Sources say that neither company is interested in renewing the former alliance. Microsoft wants marketers to have equal access to search engines when they build campaigns with Google technology, but Google believes that, in fact, Microsoft sees it as a threat to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing and Office productivity businesses. Both companies are now “handing ammo” against each other to regulators, a strategy that might backfire on both of them. Continue reading Google and Microsoft End Truce as Ad Tech Battle Heats Up

Chip Shortage Continues to Have an Impact Across Industries

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger revealed it may take two years to ramp up chip production, while Advanced Micro Devices chief executive Lisa Su noted that her company is prioritizing high-end chips found in a PlayStation 5 game console or Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card over “lower-powered parts.” The auto manufacturing sector has been hit hard by the semiconductor shortage — with some indicating no end in sight. At John Deere, chief technology officer Jahmy Hindman said that he expects “we’re into this for the next 12 to 18 months.”  Continue reading Chip Shortage Continues to Have an Impact Across Industries

Microsoft Unveils Windows 11 with Upgraded Features, Design

Microsoft unveiled Windows 11, almost six years after the introduction of Windows 10, the world’s most widely used PC operating system with 1.3+ billion devices. Windows 11 will be offered as a free update around the holiday season. Even as Microsoft has seen major growth in its Azure cloud services, Windows still represents 10+ percent of the company’s revenue. At the Windows 11 event, Microsoft executive Panos Panay stated that, unlike Apple, its Microsoft Store app marketplace lets developers use Microsoft’s payment system for a 12 percent cut or use their own. Continue reading Microsoft Unveils Windows 11 with Upgraded Features, Design

The Linux Foundation Leads Charge for Voice Tech Standards

The Linux Foundation — along with Microsoft, Target, Veritone and other companies — has launched the Open Voice Network (OVN) in order to “prioritize trust and standards” in voice-focused technology. Open Voice Network executive director Jon Stine said the impetus is the tremendous growth of voice assistance for AI-enabled devices and its future potential as an interface and data source. Linux Foundation senior vice president Mike Dolan said the effort is a “proactive response to combating deepfakes in AI-based voice technology.” Continue reading The Linux Foundation Leads Charge for Voice Tech Standards

Laptops Embrace Smartphone Tech in Wake of the Pandemic

According to IDC, although computer sales have been decreasing for the past decade, during the COVID-19 pandemic PC sales shot up 50 percent or more per quarter compared with the previous year. As a result, laptop manufacturers are now integrating technologies once reserved for smartphones, including powerful processors, higher-resolution displays, and increased battery life. New designs such as tablets that snap onto keyboards (detachables) and thin laptops with 360-degree hinges that fold into tablet form are also emerging. Continue reading Laptops Embrace Smartphone Tech in Wake of the Pandemic

Huawei Pushes Its HarmonyOS for Mobile, Aiming at Android

Huawei Technologies debuted HarmonyOS, its self-developed operating system, for mobile phones after introducing it for other devices in 2019. The Chinese company is attempting to free itself of U.S. suppliers, in particular Google. Since the U.S. imposed sanctions, Huawei has not been able to access updates to Google’s Android operating system or its Google Mobile Services package of smartphone software. Currently, Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi and other top phone manufacturers (except Apple) use Android. Continue reading Huawei Pushes Its HarmonyOS for Mobile, Aiming at Android

OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

OpenAI unveiled a $100 million OpenAI Startup Fund to fund early-stage companies pursuing ways that AI can have a “transformative” impact on healthcare, education, climate change and other fields. OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman said the Fund will make “big, early bets” on no more than 10 such companies. OpenAI, with funding from Microsoft and others, will manage the Fund. Selected projects will get “early access” to future OpenAI systems, support from OpenAI’s team and credits for Microsoft Azure. Continue reading OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Big Tech companies have long regulated who can fix their devices, keeping components in short supply or simply providing them only to authorized repair shops. Now, a group of independent repair shop owners and activists are promoting right-to-repair legislation across the United States. Although such bills were put before state legislators in 27 states in 2021, more than have of them have been dismissed or voted down, often with the help of powerful lobbyists for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft among others. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

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