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Apple’s iCloud website has been the solution for users of its products who don’t own a Mac, but it’s often been a poor second class citizen to the Mac experience (arguably deliberately). This is an interesting change in a key area, and it’s possible that it portends more robust iCloud.com offerings for other products and services.
It’s become increasingly clear in recent months that Android Wear is struggling mightily. Without a shot in the arm from Google, it seems likely to wither on the vine. I still think a Pixel-like direct entry from Google is the best strategy here, but this might be something of a stopgap.
Two top Faraday Future executives just resigned – The Verge (Dec 23, 2016)
It’s hard to avoid the sense at this point that this company is in enormous trouble, along with its investor LeEco, both of which seem to have overspent in an aggressive pursuit of new product and geographic markets.
Facebook kills off exact location sharing in Nearby Friends, adds “Wave” | TechCrunch (Dec 22, 2016)
In a world in which it seems threats to privacy get steadily stronger over time, this is an unusual retrenchment. Facebook will now share less detailed information in its Nearby Friends feature, though arguably to make the feature more appealing rather than out of any sense of altruism. It’s an interesting example of dialing back user data sharing to win user trust.
2017 – the year to get excited about smartphones again (Dec 22, 2016)
It’s been fascinating to watch Xiaomi get so much credit for its innovation with screens here – as a concept it’s been rumored for months if not years that this edge-to-edge screen is something Apple has been working on, though Xiaomi is one of the first to execute it in a production device. It’s worth noting, though, that Xiaomi’s sales will be a tiny fraction of Apple’s when its version launches – this is a hollow victory at best.
Apple Music: Platform? Promoter? Both. – The New York Times (Dec 22, 2016)
Competition in the streaming music market is tough – everyone is offering roughly the same catalogs for roughly the same monthly price. So competition happens at the margins – in recommendations, user interfaces, and exclusive content, which is the subject of this interview with Apple Music execs.
For all the complaining about how the new MacBooks weren’t truly worthy of the Pro designation, it’s been largely a matter of opinion, and one I’ve argued doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to. But if this is a verifiable performance issue with the new MBPs, that’s a concern – I’ve seen pretty variable battery life on my review unit. But see also this iMore piece that questions some of the findings, and this later 9to5Mac piece which follows up with some additional data.
Facebook and not Twitter has mostly been in the news for misstating its metrics, but it’s clear that the latter isn’t immune. Although Facebook’s confessions have been embarrassing, it hasn’t had to refund advertisers, but it appears Twitter has, though only over a brief period due to a technical glitch.
Once San Francisco shut the Uber self-driving experiment down for flouting regulations, it was inevitable that it would move elsewhere. Arizona’s governor has courted autonomous driving trials, and is using the incident as a way to score points against neighbor California. But it’s worth remembering these are just 16 cars, and California was merely seeking oversight, not to block Uber here.
Government requests for Facebook user data up 27 percent in first half of 2016 | TechCrunch (Dec 22, 2016)
As more and more communication takes place on online platforms, law enforcement agencies will inevitably shift their data gathering to those platforms too, and we’re seeing this play out here. The more data these platforms have on us, of course, the more meaningful that is, and Facebook is a treasure trove.
Apple and Nokia have a long history as competitors in the smartphone market, but since Nokia’s sale of its phone business to Microsoft, the relationship has changed. It appears Apple now wants to renegotiate terms, and Nokia doesn’t. This will probably end in a settlement of some kind, perhaps court-facilitated.
Uber stops San Francisco self-driving pilot as DMV revoked registrations | TechCrunch (Dec 22, 2016)
This seemed inevitable, and you have to wonder what Uber was trying to prove here. Uber’s cavalier attitude towards regulation has generally served it well, but I’ve felt ever since this imbroglio started that this was a step too far – fighting the taxi lobby is one thing, but rejecting oversight of potentially dangerous technology is quite another.
Reporting has suggested for some time now that Apple will be seeking to use OLED for in at least some of its 2017 iPhone models. The challenge is that OLED displays are in high demand and short supply, so supply constraints might be an issue.
Behind the scenes at Faraday Future, an electric carmaker on the brink of collapse – The Verge (Dec 22, 2016)
A pretty damning take on Faraday Future and its current financial situation, ahead of a big launch at CES early next month. It’s hard to avoid the sense that both Faraday Future and its largest investor LeEco are struggling with the results of over-ambitious expansion plans.
Google (now Waymo) partnered with Fiat Chrysler some time ago to use Chrysler Pacifica minivans for testing autonomous technology. This second partnership suggests some momentum, though it’s not yet clear how this fits in with Honda’s in-house autonomous R&D efforts.
Uber’s Drive Into India Relies on Raw Recruits – WSJ (Dec 22, 2016)
There’s been so much focus on Uber in China, which is obviously a massive market for ride-sharing, and where Uber has ultimately had to concede defeat. But there are interesting challenges with regard to expansion into other emerging markets like India.
America’s Big 5 tech companies increase patent filings, Microsoft holds lead in AI technologies – IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent Law (Dec 22, 2016)
Interesting and valuable analysis. But clearly an oversimplification to make patents held the arbiter of a “lead” in AI. Ultimately, whether you lead in AI comes down to the customer benefit you drive from it, not the patents themselves.
Pokémon Go arrives on the Apple Watch | TechCrunch (Dec 22, 2016)
This Watch app was announced way back in September, so it’s been a long time coming. But it looks really solid and is cleverly integrated into the Activity app too. Stuff like this is what the Watch needs to make a success of its App Store, which so far has been a little underwhelming.
Is Amazon Europe’s Next Top Model? – Bloomberg (Dec 21, 2016)
A big part of Amazon’s recent success is its continuing ability to work its magic in retail segments that had once been considered off limits to an pure-play e-tailer, with clothing and fashion in particular one of the most far-fetched. This article cites its competitiveness in this segment in Europe.
Uber to Your Friends and Snap Along the Way! (Dec 21, 2016)
Uber announced two new features – making a friend rather than a place your destination for rides, and a filter integration with Snapchat. Uber has always been open to partnerships, with Spotify and Facebook previous partners – it’s an interesting way to expand its reach and also keep people in the app longer.