Tech News Weekly 329 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

0:00:00 - Mikah Sargent
Coming up on Tech News Weekly. Jennifer Pattison Tuohy of The Verge is here to join me and share a very important story of the week. It's all about the US Department of Justice suing Apple for the claim of illegal monopoly practices regarding its smartphones. Then my story of the week is all about how automakers are sharing driver information with data brokers, who are then sharing that information with insurance companies, who are then raising the rates of individuals because of their driving data. It is a mess and you need to hear about it. After that, we have Emma Roth of the Verge, who joins us to talk about how Beeper, that app that wanted to bring iMessage to Android it couldn't do that, so it's back in a whole new way. And then Zach Bowden of Windows Central stops by to tell us what was announced this morning at the Microsoft 2024 Surface PC event. It's all of that, plus some more, coming up on Tech News Weekly.

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0:01:46 - VO
Podcasts you love. From people you trust. This. Is TWiT.

0:01:54 - Mikah Sargent
This is Tech News Weekly, episode 329. Recorded Thursday, March 21st 2024. US DOJ Sues Apple for Monopoly Practices.

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Hello and welcome to Tech News Weekly, the show where every week we talk to and about the people making and breaking that tech news. I am your host, Mikah Sargent, and in our continued effort sure, our continued experiment that is underway we are still doing the multi-host, one per week, every month situation. I'm gonna have to give that a name at some point. But joining me this week is Jennifer Pattison Tuohy of The Verge. Welcome back to the show.

0:04:17 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Thank you, Mikah. I'm so excited to be part of your experiment.

0:04:21 - Mikah Sargent
Good, I'm glad.

I'm very glad I've been a Twitter fan for many years, so this is a dream come true, oh well, we're happy to hear that and, by the way, listeners out there make sure to send a little message to Jen, as it is her birthday today, so you might want to send a happy birthday message as well. So, as you all know, the way that we've started doing the show is that when I have a guest co-host join me, we both have stories of the week that we bring to the table, and this week we will start with Jen and your story of the week. Tell us what's going on.

0:05:02 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
So this is a huge story that it just broke today, although we knew it was coming. Basically, the American government, the Department of Justice, is suing Apple for violating antitrust laws, so this is going to be a big story for probably the next decade. Yeah, seriously, you know, if everyone remembers Microsoft antitrust trials many years ago, that went on for a very, very long time, this is likely to sort of follow a similar pattern. But just in brief, in case you haven't caught up with the news yet, because this just the press conference was 11 am Eastern time this morning and the Department of Justice announced its plans. And basically they're accusing Apple of illegally monopolizing the smartphone market and using its position in quotes to extract more money from consumers, developers, content creators, artists, publishers, small businesses and merchants. And basically, in the words of the Verges senior policy reporter, laura Finer, the DOG is saying that Apple has maintained an illegal monopoly over the smartphone market by locking in customers and making experiences worse for rival products, which is a big kick in the face for Apple, and I believe its stock price has already gone down. And the sort of four big parts of this is that they accuse Apple of illegally maintaining its monopoly by disrupting super apps, which are apps that can provide, like, multiple services on your phone, blocking cloud streaming apps for things like video games, suppressing the quality of messaging between the iPhone and competing platforms like Android so the whole green bubble, blue bubble issue. And also limiting the functionality and this is an interesting one that they throw in functionality of third party smartwatches. So basically, the only watch that works well with an iPhone is an Apple watch and the government says that's not fair. And then blocking third party developers from creating digital wallets so you could use, you know, so you Apple pay tap to pay you can only use with Apple pay, you can't use with any other versions.

So this is, you know, this is a huge, big antitrust lawsuit and it's going to be really interesting to see how this pans out. Apple has responded and has said this lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets and again, this is quoting Fred Sains of Apple. If successful, it will hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple, where hardware, software and services intersect, and would also set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people's technology. We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law and we will vigorously defend against it. So it's on the week. What do you think, mike? Just that little thing Just a small one.

So for my first show, yeah, make it easy.

0:08:12 - Mikah Sargent
This is obviously, as you point out, it's going to be big. This is something that we are going to continue to watch over the coming years because, yes, there is going to be a back and forth. I think what's most interesting to me is we've seen a lot of this happening in the EU already. Right, we have a little bit of precedent here in the way that the EU is kind of forcing Apple to do certain things. And, yeah, with the Digital Markets Act Exactly with the Digital Markets Act, and what I find fascinating there is almost seeing the US kind of let the EU go first and then going okay, now we're kind of seeing how they're going to respond, how Apple's going to respond, what they might do, and now it feels like the right time.

Look, they're the troubling, not troubling, but the one thing that I'm kind of paying attention to, I guess, is that when it comes to, for some reason, these smartphone platforms, especially Android and iOS, which are two of the main platforms, you have a lot of people who are fiercely loyal to these companies, to these brands and In that way, in a world where everybody is a little I shouldn't even say a little is far more connected and is far more aware of ways to make their voice heard.

I am fascinated to see how that shapes what's going forward, because when Microsoft was going through it, yes, you had Microsoft itself that was involved, and then, in many ways, you had the businesses who, at the time, were relying on Microsoft playing a role, but I would say that the average person was probably not as invested in this or paying attention to this, and to a certain extent, it's still true that the average person is not.

But I think there's at least one more group of people. That is, it's almost like from the center, you've got Apple itself, and then you've got the businesses, and then you've got the early adopters, prosumer space and then, in some cases, even the consumer space, whereas before, with Microsoft, it was kind of like Microsoft itself and then the businesses that cared about it. You didn't have those extra rings that, of course, get bigger because it's more numerous as you go out, and so I think that's gonna be fascinating. Is this going to be a call your lawmaker kind of situation, how Apple will play that? Because we saw that with TikTok right, tiktok, and that's still ongoing.

0:11:00 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
They've got young people to pick up the phone.

0:11:01 - Mikah Sargent
They got them to pick up the phone which-.

0:11:03 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
They got a phone call, I thought only Taylor Swift could do that.

0:11:05 - Mikah Sargent
But apparently yeah, TikTok can as well. They can put out a prompt.

0:11:09 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Yes, but then that just proved their point.

0:11:11 - Mikah Sargent
They are so influenced by TikTok that they would actually go and make a phone call it was a bad move, I think, on their part, but it was also, I mean, look, it's a little bit of both, because it was like, yes, it proves the point, but also, holy cow, look at the power that it has.

These people care yes yeah, now, with this, you know, apple has made some changes already to its platforms, begrudgingly, begrudgingly, absolutely. I thought it was interesting talking about the cloud streaming stuff because Apple did just recently change policy on cloud streaming apps for games to make that more available. And then also there was another one that stuck out for me and now I'm forgetting what it was, but you know they the iMessage. Yeah, that's right, because they did say that pretty soon RCS was going to be available on the platform.

0:12:04 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
So that that will get rid of one of the big. One of the things that they called out actually was in the complaint, which you can read and it's like very long it is, but it starts with a great story about using a Kindle and it's very. I was very impressed. It wasn't as dry as normally would find in these types of documents, but they were definitely trying to paint a picture and tell their story. But they point out that videos are grainy on, you know, if you're receiving from Android versus iPhone, and there's low quality and so things like that. I believe Apple has already said it's going to start addressing so.

But in all of this has been these have all been issues that people have had for a long time. I think the volume, the noise around it is gradually getting louder. But I think one of the big, the biggest problem with this lawsuit is that Apple does not have a monopoly in the smartphone market. It is not the largest competitor anywhere in the world in its space. It, you know it's huge in the States, but it is not the dominant Like it doesn't blow everyone else out of the water we still have. They do have competition in the States. They have much more competition in the rest of the world, where phones iPhones aren't subsidized in the same way as they are here. It's much easier to buy a phone and iPhone here than it is in Europe, if you don't have $1,000 on hand, you know, because you can get subsidized through the carrier. That's not something that you get in the EU. So I just feel like, on the law and I am not a lawyer, if you want to hear a good lawyer talk about this, make sure to tune into the VergeCast this weekend, because Neil Ipertel, my boss, will be on there talking about it a lot, I'm sure, and he is a lawyer, but, yes, I'm not a lawyer. But I think that that is going to be the biggest issue here trying to prove that actually Apple is the most dominant in its category, because that's going to be I mean, that is going to be a hard sell. I think that's going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. But on the flip side, I do think that what's happened here? That's really interesting and this is what's happened with the Digital Market Acts and all of the other things that we've started to see coming into play around tech, because it's not just Apple. This is happening too. Google is going through similar issues with the EU and the DOJ. Amazon constantly is under these types of investigations and trials, and so there's a lot going on with the big tech companies, and I think what's happening here is this fundamental shift from technology being something that's part of our lives, that we all enjoy and use, to technology being fundamental to life, and because of that, it's no longer it should no longer be allowed to be run entirely independently by these massive companies, all of which, you know, I would love to think, have great ambitions to better humanity, but ultimately they have a bottom line, they have shareholders.

And I come from Europe, I'm from England, which was in Europe, and you know government regulation is much larger part of your world in Europe than it is here. I grew up with nationalised health service, nationalised rail service, telecommunications, and you have regulations here over telecommunications, tv, cable. Ultimately, cell phones, the internet. Mobile phones are so important to everyday life now, much more so than they were even 10 years ago. Like you cannot realistically get, I had to get my child a cell phone so she could go to school, right, like there are things she couldn't do without a phone.

I didn't want to get her a phone because she was too young but like she couldn't check her grades if she didn't have a phone. You know it's gotten to the point where you have to have these devices. So we really do need some form of government regulation over some of these areas to make sure that everyone can have access to what is essentially now become incredibly essential to day life, just like electricity and plumbing. I mean, it's just where technology has brought us. So, while this may not be, you know, this isn't regulation, but this is certainly a step towards something larger, if they can, if well step. It's going to be a very slow step, because I think this is going to take a very long time, but there's, yeah, I mean, I feel like this was inevitable.

0:16:31 - Mikah Sargent
Basically, it was. I think it was inevitable. And here's what has always kind of confused me about big tech in particular when, because you talked about the necessities, these different services that we decided were just necessary for daily life, and how, because of that, they were all regulated in the United States and, you know, far longer regulated in other places. And when the movie industry, when Hollywood was getting underway and, by extension, the music industry was also kind of getting into a place of being more of a large scale business, those organizations realized we are going to be faced with the government coming in and regulating us and we don't really want that to happen, so we're going to regulate ourselves. And they set up rules and regulatory bodies that put in place things like the ratings systems on movies and TV and, you know, proved time and time again that, no matter what, they would regulate their stuff, even if it didn't necessarily, you know, benefit them. And I have remained surprised that we didn't see that. Well, ok, let me. Let me rephrase that the optimistic part of myself that wants to believe that everybody's out there to do good and better humanity remained surprised that they did not choose the big tech, did not choose to regulate themselves. Unfortunately, there is another part of me that's more realistic and a little bit pessimistic. That's going well. Of course they didn't, but as it's been up to this point, yeah, there's there's not this overall regulation and that the big tech didn't get together and go. You know what? We should do this instead of trying to fight every single time something comes up. But they've been able to thus far, and I think that's where maybe there's it's time for a bit of an ego check.

And I understand the argument. I get why people have this argument, and particularly these companies themselves, that oh, if government gets involved, then they're just gonna ruin everything and it's all gonna go poorly and we'll never be able to innovate ever again. And yada, yada, yada yada. I understand where that comes from, but I don't. There's still innovation that takes place when there are at least guardrails in place, and I honestly, god rails, yes, and I want some of the stuff. I don't necessarily want all of it, but I want some of the stuff that the EU has now. When it comes to Apple, I like some of the things that have been required and wished that they were here in the US, and I think that this potentially helps.

0:19:32 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Yeah, like the alternate app stores and, yeah, the browser choice, the browser selection, yeah, that more than anything honestly, yeah, deleting default apps. Yeah, there's a lot of. There's a lot that's interesting there. I mean, it certainly feels like the DMA is gonna do a bit more than the GDPR. Did you know GDPR? We end up with cookies pages as it. Yeah, I feel like, but I'm sure there's more to it, but there is that's what it feels like for us, right?

It hasn't felt yeah, to the consumer there's not a lot of change it doesn't feel for with the DMA it feels like there is gonna be significant change. For a certain type of consumer, this feels even bigger in terms, especially because Americans and Americans the green bubble, blue bubble thing is an American issue. Just to make this clear, that is not an issue in Europe, because no one uses anything other than WhatsApp in Europe, all the rest of the world. So the green bubble, blue bubble thing, it seems to be what they're very much hanging their hat on here, and it is. It's a frustrating. I mean, that's a core communication issue and it again going back to like fundamental kind of things that you need to live in this world. It's sad that we've kind of got to that point, but you do. You need to be able to text people, you need to be able to communicate that way and if there are barriers there, there should be options to remove those barriers.

Apple has not provided enough change in this space, clearly for the US government. So now, in terms of regulation, though, I think I understand where you're coming from and I agree. But, to be fair, if you look at what the music in the movie industry had to do was relatively small. These tech companies have their fingers in almost all parts of our lives. That's a good point. You've got AI, you've got communication, you've got banking, entertainment. I mean, they're gatekeepers to use a phrase from the DMA for a lot of what we do on a daily basis. So it would be. It would require an awful lot of resources to create some kind of regulation themselves, and they'd all have to work together, which we've seen they can do, because, you know, I am a smart home reporter and I have to mention matter every time on the show but we've seen that these companies can work together to help solve a problem in the industry.

But it is a big process to do that and it takes a lot of time. And, for matter, which is a relatively small fry, which is a smart home interoperability protocol, that's taken years and it's nothing like as complicated as many of the issues that this antitrust lawsuit is going to address and bring up. And this is also, as we mentioned, sort of a small slice of how important just how important having a phone is in everyday life. And I think that's kind of to me where I've only spent a couple of hours this morning kind of digesting all of this news and I'm gonna be really interested to read and hear everyone's hot takes over the next few days. But this is what it comes down to is that the smartphone has become, in 10 years, such an integral part of our life that we can't trust companies.

As much as I love Apple I know you love Apple I also like other companies too. I like to use a Google Pixel. I think Google does some great stuff. I like a lot of what Amazon does and big fan of their smart displays. These pieces of technology are so important in our lives these days, but nothing is more important than your phone. I mean, it's kind of sad, I hate to admit it, but it has such a large role in your life. So I'm not sure that what this antitrust lawsuit is doing is necessarily going to solve a lot of these issues, but I think what it is going to do is open up really important conversations that we can start talking about how we need to regulate or put into place some guardrails over how dependent we are on these devices and the services that they offer and how we can be protected against the future, because one of the big issues with any kind of regulation is you're generally regulating for the past, right? You're not. It's so hard, especially with technology to know what's going to happen with technology.

I mean, I got my first iPhone 10 years ago and pretty much all it did was make phone calls. Now, the one thing I really don't do with my phone- is make phone calls.

0:24:07 - Mikah Sargent
Right, it's made phone calls exactly yeah, but it does so much it's changed a lot. Yeah, you're absolutely right about that. And especially as we're seeing things shift so quickly with AI and Gen AI and being able to that's generative AI, not Gen for AI.

Yeah, as opposed to, even in comparison, smartphone took a long time, so to speak, to reach what it has in comparison to AI, and very, very, very solid point there about how we're kind of regulating to the past, and that means, with generative AI especially. That means being left in the dust in a lot of ways. So I understand these governmental bodies wanting to get out in front of it, because that's the role that they're supposed to play. We should take a break. There is a lot more to talk about with that, but, as Jennifer has pointed out, it would be interesting to see. Yeah, as this continues to develop, we'll have more to discuss, but I wanna take a moment to tell you about our sponsor, Thinkst Canary, who was bringing you this episode of Tech News Weekly.

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All right, we are back from the break. I, Mikah Sargent, am joined by Jennifer Paterson, two of the Verge, and it is time for my story of the week Now. Folks may have heard about this story of the week, but somehow it flew past my radar. I remember having somebody from the Mozilla Foundation on the show last year at some point to talk about the research that they had done on privacy when it came to cars, and at that time I remember one of the most weird and interesting statistics that was there was that data grabbers, these big groups that are collecting our information. When they gained access to the information that a car provided, one of the little categories that they were looking at that they were able to collect was sexual activity, and it left us all wondering how a vehicle could determine someone's sexual activity, and I still don't really have an answer for that. But that was one bit of data that was collected that data brokers maybe had access to.

Fast forward to earlier last week and there was I believe it was, yeah, last week and there was a great story from Kashmir Hill in the New York Times that I think made clear the impact that this can have, and this is what I like about this story this there's, I still see, for the most part, a general sort of laissez-faire, lackadaisical attitude toward data gathering practices, and I think it's improved over time. People are a little bit more concerned about their privacy and security, but overall it's still just kind of a vague thing in the back of their brain and you almost have to have a situation like what I'm about to describe happen, where somebody's money is impacted, for people to go oh, suddenly, I get it Suddenly, I am concerned about these data gathering practices. So in this story. It starts with an anecdote about an individual who drives a least Chevy Bolt and this individual has, of course, as is required, insurance on that least Chevy Bolt and never has been responsible for an accident. Well, in 2022, the individual saw their insurance jump 21%. So, whatever they were paying before, it jumped 21% and they were very confused as to why that happened. Well, they spoke to the insurance company and one of the agents said sorry, but your Lexus Nexus report was a factor in that jump in your percentage. So Mr Dahl the name of the individual reached out to Lexus Nexus and said what the heck? What's going on? And, because of the set of data collection practices and rules that we have in the US, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, was able to get information from Lexus Nexus.

Turned out, it was a more than 250 page report that included so much information about his driving. It had information about hard braking, it had information about turns, it had information about trips, it had information about when these trips started and when they ended, how long they were driving, if there was speeding all sorts of stuff, and this is maybe where you might go. Oh, so, mr Dahl was using one of those insurance programs where you can sign up to get a little dongle that you plug in the OBD2 port of your car and it tracks your driving and then, if you drive safely, according to what the insurance expects, then you're free to go, and or rather, you're not free to go, then you would get a break on your insurance, and if you drive poorly, then your insurance rates could go up. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. All of this information was being collected by way of a, the internet connection of the vehicle and its access via an app, and I think, fairly, mr Dahl did not realize that that was going on.

Jen, you and I are probably relatively versed in privacy policies, given our smart home enthusiasm, and I kind of wanted to get your. I actually read some. Yeah, yeah, exactly, I actually sit down and read a few of them, just to be sure.

0:31:38 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Yeah, and now I'm going to read more. Yes, after reading this article.

0:31:41 - Mikah Sargent
Oh my, goodness, that's exactly what this did for me. I said, first and foremost, me having a car from 2014, I think it is, or 2016?, I can't remember Me. Having an older car is my first way of avoiding any of this.

0:31:53 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
I love the line in here If you have a CD player, then actually I think it was in the comments If you have a CD player in your car, then you can feel safe, that's fantastic, but this is the thing it's like.

0:32:05 - Mikah Sargent
They put this shiny, this sort of shiny aspect in front of you. For example, would you like driver assistance for your vehicle? We'll give it to you for a year for free, or you can try it out for six months, or you can do this or you can do that. And then it turns out that it's not just looking in the app and saying, ooh, I got an A for my trip today. No, that information is being sent and then is potentially being shared with these third party data collection. I think it's just again another reminder, and one that is more of an object lesson, I think, than we've possibly had as reporters to give to people to say. This is why you should not just hit accept, accept, accept, accept, accept, because it does matter.

0:32:52 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
This is also why we need regulation of tech companies and we need data privacy laws in this country. Absolutely yeah, europe yeah.

0:32:59 - Mikah Sargent
I was going to say it's not good.

0:33:00 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
None of these manufacturers were in Europe, european cars, this was all American. Yep, yeah and yeah. So one quick tip if you are needing to read through these privacy policies, this is a great tool for generative AI. Go, pop it in a Gemini or a chat GPT and say tell me the highlights. Yes, they don't have to read the entire thing, but yes it is. It's just reading through this article my blood was starting to boil, because I do read privacy policies when I review devices for the smart home, because you know and I also ask questions of the companies, like you say you have third party data.

You know you share data with select third parties and who is this and why? Most of the time it's like well, it's Amazon and Google. So you can use Alexa and Google Assistant and you know, as long as they explain and it's clear why this data is being shared. But these privacy policies said we share data with third parties, but it doesn't specifically say which, and I believe in the majority of cases, because there's quite a few vehicle manufacturers involved here. It never specifically said anything about Lexus Nexus and some of them weren't sharing as much information as the Chevy, was it the Chevy Chevy bought?

0:34:06 - Zac Bowden

0:34:07 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Yeah, but yeah, just the sheer kind of the lack of any clear way for this driver specifically, who was called out in this article, to have known what was happening is just makes you just skin crawl, like you, really. It really feels like the you know big tech kind of reaching in and just doing what it wants with your data and they're making money. The car companies are making money by selling the data yes, by selling it. Organizations who then sell it to the insurance companies, so these third party data brokers.

You know, there's just so many cans of worms here, but the first one, I think is well, there's two things. Like my husband refuses to get one of those dongles which you know you get 20% off your insurance. But if you do decide to opt in, like for something like that, it is you know you can save money and that's great, but you it's knowing about it. That is the key part here. If you didn't know that your driving has been tracked and I think it was kind of creepy, it didn't show location, but it did show every single trip that they made and how fast they were going and how you know how many stops and breaks and and the main thing, they've been penalized for, I think was hard braking and speeding, and I mean you can see, you can extrapolate in the future here where we might get to the point where you just get I think Kashmir actually mentions this in the article where you might get speeding tickets Right it just gets sent to you.

Yeah, they just know no one has to pull you over. You went over the speed limit. So this is definitely the dark, the dark mirror side, the black mirror side of technology. Yeah, absolutely.

And then pushing it as it's all about safety. Right, this is what they push it for and there are lots of benefits here. I mean I do have life 360 on my son's phone. He just started driving and I do look to see how fast. This is an app that tracks location. He knows he's been tracked and it shows how fast he's gone and so I can be like you were like two miles over the speed limit. I mean I can see the value here, but the disconnect is that not knowing and then being penalized.

0:36:12 - Mikah Sargent
Yes, to just be surprised by this, and some people don't know, some people wouldn't necessarily know. To follow through with that and you heard it said at the beginning, I think they said one insurance agent told him what if you got an insurance agent who wasn't aware of this and so you would spend so much time knowing why this had happened? I will include in the show notes a link to the LexisNexis page where you can request your own LexisNexis report and, particularly if you live in the state of California where we have something that comes close to some of the stuff that you folks have overseas, yeah, we can at least kind of make some pretty strong opt outs and don't sell our personal data and that kind of deal. So I have my report in processing or whatever. I'm going to be requesting that folks who are watching this check the show notes to get that link to learn more. Is there anything else you want to say about this before we say goodbye for today?

0:37:17 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Yeah, I think one thing that is interesting, though, is that relationship between tech and the insurance company. So technology, our data and insurance companies like right, in this instance it's a bad connection, but I can see so many benefits in the future if we can use the data that we generate to prove to insurance companies that we are low risk. And this goes back to the smart home. We're seeing this a lot in the smart home. If you install smart devices like leak detectors and other kind of non-sexy smart home devices, you know not the fun ones like smoke alarms connect to smoke alarms and you can get big discounts on your insurance. So I mean, whilst this in particular instance is icky, I do think that there is an interesting future kind of correlation that we should I was expected to have seen more of by now, but it's been a slow uptake where we can kind of use our data to save us money from our insurance companies, but again, the flip side being we want to be able to control that data and when they see it and what they get, and right now there's just nothing out there that offers us any control over our data, and our data is so valuable. People want our data, and I've actually written a lot about this. I could see a point in the future where you could actually companies could pay you for your data, rather than get rid of these third party brokers. Like, if you want, you can benefit from your own data. I mean it's yours. You should be able to sell it if you want. Other people shouldn't be making money off your data.

And the other thing is, I think cars are fascinating in this space, and it's one. People talk about privacy with your smartphones, talk about privacy issues with your smart home, but it's amazing how little people realize your car is a computer today. Right, Everything about it is accessible, especially if you connect it to the internet, which is what happened in this case. I think these were apps. These are like manufacturer apps on the car that you enable because you get some benefit out of it. But every little bit of information, the sensors, cameras, I mean there's so much technology in a car, much more so than in your homes, probably at this stage, Although I think the home will eventually be as tech packed as the car. But yes, if you want to avoid all of this, I would go get yourself a good old, vintage car from, like you know, 1970. There you go.

And you'll be safe.

0:39:48 - Mikah Sargent
It's the only way.

0:39:51 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
It's the only way. We need to put the tinfoil hat on and go sit in the tin car.

0:39:57 - Mikah Sargent
Well, Jennifer Paterson Torea, I want to thank you so much for joining me this week, on your birthday of all days, for this episode of Tech News Weekly. If folks want to follow along with what you're doing and stay up to date, where should they go to do that?

0:40:11 - Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
So you will find all of my work at thevergecom and then you can also follow me on the threads at Smart Home Mama, and that's kind of the best place to catch me. I'm on X as JP2E as well, but yeah, that's kind of the best stuff if you want to see what's going on. If you want to read more about the Apple DOG Antitrust lawsuit, there is a great story stream on thevergecom today with all the details and all the reactions, and I'm excited to talk about it, probably more next month.

0:40:41 - Mikah Sargent
Yes indeed, yes indeed. Thanks so much. We'll see you around. Thank you All righty folks. Up next my first of two interviews.

But I do wanna take a quick break and this is the time for me to tell you about Club TWiT at Consider joining the club because when you do you get some pretty great stuff. First and foremost, you get that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart knowing that you are keeping what we do here going. You're helping to support the shows. When you join the club for $7 a month or $84 a year, you get every single Twitch show with no ads, just the content. You also gain access to the Twitch plus bonus feed that has extra stuff you won't find anywhere else behind the scenes before the show, after the show, special Club TWiT events and access to the members only Discord server, a fun place to go to chat with your fellow Club TWiT members and also those of us here at twit. It is a busy place with lots of comments, lots of fun, always somebody to talk to there.

$7 a month, $84 a year also gets you access to some Club TWiT exclusive video shows. There is the untitled Linux show, hands on Mac, hands on Windows, ios Today, home Theater Geeks. Those are all Club TWiT video exclusives. You can listen to the audio versions of those shows publicly, but if you want the video versions and just the content, no ads, that's where you gotta go to get those.

Plus, you can sign up to join us live for a recording of this Week in Tech if you are a member of Club TWiT. It's and I don't think there are many seats left, so you wanna hop on that if you've been thinking about coming to watch a show being recorded live Thank you for considering signing up, for telling your friends to sign up. It's All right, we are back from the break and it is time to talk about a rebirth, a phoenix rising from the ashes. You may have heard about Beeper maybe not, but someone who got to try out Beeper in its new form is Emma Roth of the Verge, who's back with us again this week. Welcome back, emma.

0:42:54 - Emma Roth
Hi, thanks again for having me.

0:42:56 - Mikah Sargent
Thank you for being here and thanks for your patience. Sorry that we ran a little long, but it's great to get you here, and I was hoping that we could actually start with a bit of a recap, because maybe there's some folks who don't know about the history of Beeper. Tell us about what it was kind of, what it is and how it attempted to be the app to cleanly bring iMessage to Android.

0:43:22 - Emma Roth
Right. So Beeper originally launched in 2021 as an Android messaging app, but it kind of started to become make more headlines late last year when it attempted to bring iMessage to Android. And I think a lot of us are aware of the whole green versus blue bubble battle on iMessage, where Android messages will come up as blue bubbles and iPhone messages will come up as blue bubbles. And did I just reverse that? I was like Android is green bubbles and iPhones are blue bubbles.

0:43:58 - Zac Bowden

0:43:58 - Emma Roth
Okay, and so I think that is one thing that has kind of been a contentious debate, and also it's worth noting that Android users of course, can't send like full quality pictures to iPhone users and vice versa. So Beeper attempted to change this by creating Beeper Mini last year, and for a while it did work, because they essentially sent their messages through Apple servers to make them appear as iMessages, and it did work to bring iMessage to Android very briefly, but Apple just kind of kept throwing roadblocks in its way. So they ended up pivoting to their main goal of creating just a great chat app and basically what they want us to create the best like chat app in the world.

0:44:59 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, speaking of creating the best chat app in the world, the company did find a feat at the hands of Apple in attempting to bring it to, and bring iMessage to Android in this clean way. That didn't require, like, having a local Mac and all of that jazz. But they said, okay, we can't make that happen. Let's refocus on that original goal making that best chat app on earth. So how does this new Beeper app work? What does it look like? And then, I think most importantly, how does it differ from the app that was created back in 2021, even before they kind of tried to redo things by bringing iMessage to Android?

0:45:45 - Emma Roth
So this new Beeper is basically a rewrite of the old app and it comes with a new design. It's also supposed to be faster and it lets you link your messages from other platforms directly on the app. But the main feature about this, about Beeper is that you can link messages from social platforms like Instagram, facebook, discord, linkedin and as well as your text messages, so you will receive all your messages in one app, and I've been using it for the past week or so and it's definitely a new experience and I am liking it so far.

0:46:30 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, so let's talk a little bit about it. How does it look in comparison? You said that all of this stuff is in one place, and I liked in your piece you mentioned that you're more aware of how many people or how many people you're ghosting. So can you talk a little bit about the potentially overwhelming nature of it? And when it comes to swiftness, does it all feel more polished than it once was?

0:47:02 - Emma Roth
I didn't get the chance to use the old Beeper app, but it is like on par with some of the other services I've been using, like Google messages, and how it looks is.

It basically looks like your typical messaging app. You get all your messages in a single feed, but you can pin your most important chats at the very top so you can just jump right into those, which is helpful, but, like you said, it definitely does bring awareness to the amount of messages that you're getting Like once you've linked everything. I don't have like a very good habit of checking my messages on like platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn and stuff like that, so I'm seeing a lot more stuff that I just like didn't reply to, we're totally forgot about, and it is a little bit chaotic at first because you're getting like all these notifications from all these different platforms, but luckily you can mute some of those, so try to like manage it a little bit. But I am enjoying it though, because it just it is nice to have like all my stuff in one place and to be aware of the stuff on them, like completely missing out on.

0:48:16 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, you mentioned in your piece as well something that's very identified with, which is that there are apps that have messaging built into them, but unfortunately those apps also send other notifications that I don't want, and so I have the notifications turned off for that app because I don't want to get the other notifications, but I would like to know if I got messages in them. So this one place where I could find the messages for those apps that I otherwise have notifications turned off would be kind of nice to see them all in one place. And, yeah, if people want to get in touch with me in places that I don't normally get in touch with them, knowing that all I have to do is look in one place and see all of that is quite nice. Or I guess, in my case, in two places, since I message would be the main means of contact.

Now, speaking of getting messages all in one place, I've used a few of these all of your message services in one place apps in the past and I've noticed that a lot of times the login processes for them or processes for them are very clunky and that sometimes it feels like I'm hacking myself. If that makes sense, I can remember trying to. I don't remember which service it was, but I remember trying to log in to Instagram on one of the services and I got a notification from Metta saying that someone had tried to access my account from Europe somewhere and I understood personally. What was happening there was that they were spinning up a server spot that was logging in to stay logged in to get my messages. What's the login process like for Beeper in its beta form, and does it have some of that kind of clunky login stuff going on, or is it mostly slick?

0:50:19 - Emma Roth
Yeah, I actually didn't really have any problems linking my accounts. You can basically just sign in to all of your like, your Instagram account, your Discord from the app. There are like a few extra steps, obviously if you have like 2FA turned on so I think I forgot what platform it was but I did have to like enter a Google Authenticator code into Beeper to link it, and I believe if you're going to link Signal, you do have to scan a QR code. But other than that, like it was pretty surprisingly simple and it actually does. It actually works Like I'm getting all my messages in and it's definitely different.

0:51:01 - Mikah Sargent
Wow, yeah, that's nice that it doesn't feel like, oh, I'm gonna end up missing something because there's some server disconnect there, which is what I have experienced with others. So it does sound like they're really trying to nail it. And another thing that I was curious about you mentioned that, depending on if you're using the mobile app versus the PC version of the system, that you may be able to link with other messaging services, how different or similar are the mobile version of this app and the one that you would run on a Mac, for example?

0:51:41 - Emma Roth
Yeah, it is pretty similar. It's just basically on a larger scale, but there aren't any too many major changes. But you can, like you said, you can, sync your messages to your desktop so you can get all your notifications to your desktop and your phone, and yeah, Nice.

0:52:03 - Mikah Sargent
One other thing that I was curious about is if there was anything missing that you'd want to see in an all-in-one messaging app as you were using it. Were you going? Oh, I do wish this was a possibility.

0:52:15 - Emma Roth
Yeah, I think the one thing that definitely will help is the ability to delete messages or archive them, because right now you can't do that and it's definitely kind of been a struggle to scroll through all my messages to find something, because I have a lot of spam in there from all these other services and it would definitely be nice for you to delete stuff. But Beeper does say that they are working on that, so hopefully it shouldn't be too much longer before they roll that out.

0:52:46 - Mikah Sargent
Fingers crossed. And then, last but not least, I'll ask you what do we know about pricing and availability? And if folks who are tuning in right now want to check it out, where do they go to find the Beeper app?

0:52:59 - Emma Roth
Yeah, so right now only people with an existing Beeper account can access the beta, but you can sign up for a waitlist on Beeper's website, and I do believe that they're trying to add more people eventually, but of course they're also going to be aiming for that full launch where there'll be no waitlist, but that could be a little longer for that.

0:53:20 - Mikah Sargent
Understood. Well, emma Roth, I want to thank you so much for taking some time today to join us to talk about the new Beeper again rising from the ashes. If folks want to follow along with what you're doing online, of course they can head to thevergecom, but is there anywhere else they should go to keep up with what you're doing?

0:53:39 - Emma Roth
Yeah, you can find me on X slash Twitter at emroth08.

0:53:44 - Mikah Sargent
Awesome. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. Thank you, alrighty folks. Up next, there was a Microsoft event this morning and we're going to talk about it. That's right, a Microsoft event coming up in just a moment, alrighty folks. So you may have heard that there was going to be a Microsoft event this morning. We originally had plans to cover that event and it ended up being, from my understanding, somewhat of a business-focused event. But there's still news to be had and I'm very excited to be joined by, once again, zach Bowden of Windows Central, who is here to talk about what Microsoft announced and, frankly, it looked like you knew what was going on way ahead of time. Welcome back to the show, zach.

0:54:35 - Zac Bowden
Thank you for having me. I'm happy to be here.

0:54:37 - Mikah Sargent
So yeah, let's talk about, first and foremost, when did Microsoft announce this event this morning, and then maybe you could tell us, give us a little bit of insight into how, right after that happened, microsoft said hey, there's going to be an event right before. What is it? Ignite, that is about hardware. That seemed to kind of muddy the waters for me. Can you explain all of that? What's going on?

0:55:02 - Zac Bowden
Yeah well, for some reason this time around, microsoft has decided to split its Surface Spring offering into. They're launching some devices today and then they're going to launch another set of devices in a couple of months' time. And the reason for that is, for some reason, microsoft wants to split the business PCs up from the sort of general PCs that end users or consumers might want to buy, and one of the reasons they're doing that this year is that the consumer slash end user devices are expected to have slightly tweaked designs and ARM processes, whereas the business devices which are announced today maintain the same designs as the previous versions and ship with Intel chips. And the reason for that is enterprise customers don't like change. They don't really want to adopt Windows and ARM just yet and they don't really want to adopt new laptop designs with different port selections and placements and stuff. They want to sort of stick with what they already know and what they have, but just with better specs on the inside. And that's pretty much what Microsoft has delivered today.

0:55:59 - Mikah Sargent
Understood. So is that because businesses who buy these in bulk, so to speak, have a little bit more power to say they don't want change, versus the individual users, where Microsoft is like look, we've been wanting to do this and it doesn't matter if you alone say you don't want it, we've got to try it somewhere? I guess what I'm really asking is is it strictly at this point, just that the business users don't like change and that's why they're not making the shift from Intel? Or is it also that Intel still has something to offer in that space? And then, by extension of that, what do you think? I know this is getting deep, but what do you think Microsoft is? Why do you think, rather, microsoft is looking at arm for the consumer lineup?

0:56:51 - Zac Bowden
Yeah. So in regards to the enterprise products, it is a definitely case of enterprise want XYZ, and so Microsoft is happy to deliver XYZ for them. Enterprise customers, to my knowledge, are services sort of biggest customer base. I guess I know that service is also a little bit popular with the sort of prosumer market, but in regards to its sort of biggest market it is certainly enterprise, and so Microsoft kind of wants to make them as happy as possible for as long as possible. But at the same time, service is all about sort of innovation and trying new things, and so under the previous leadership with Panas Panay, there was always this sort of line that they had to tow between innovation and sort of keeping legacy behind as well, and so that's why they're splitting it up. They are actually going to do this sort of design tweak as well. They're just doing it a couple months later.

And in regards to the arm stuff, microsoft is sort of all in on arm. They want to bring arm up to sort of being at feature parity or performance parity with Intel, and this is the first year that Qualcomm has chips that rival or perhaps even beat the Intel Core Ultra stuff that's now shipping in the new Surface Pro X and laptop 6 for business. In fact, the new Qualcomm chips even compete, to my knowledge, with Apple Silicon M2 and M3 based chips. So Microsoft is very eager to sort of start promoting windows and arm as just a normal part of the Windows ecosystem, and one way to do that is launching sort of general consumer facing PCs with arm only. I think that's going to be something they do when they announce these upcoming devices in May. That would just only be available with arm, and if you want the Intel versions then you have to go and buy the business models.

0:58:24 - Mikah Sargent
OK, so let's talk a little bit about the business hardware that was announced. Again, you have to have the right membership card to be able to purchase these devices. I understand, but do they give any insight into what consumers might be able to expect in terms of any changes, or is it you know, because they're Intel and were potentially reportedly going to arm? Will there not be any comparison to draw at all in terms of what they provide?

0:58:59 - Zac Bowden
So in regards to the Surface Pro X, I think what we see today of the business model is more or less reflective of what the arm model is going to look like from the outside the same sort of display. The only change with the display I'm hearing is that the May version will have an OLED screen, whereas the current Surface Pro X for business has an IPS screen, but it has a new anti-reflective coating. It has a brighter display, so I think it's 33% brighter, which is nice to see. It also has an NPU built in now which enables Windows Studio Effects on the Intel model for the first time. It has an upgraded 1440p webcam, which is an octa-wide sensor, so it fits more in the picture. At the same time, that being enhanced with Windows Studio Effects and for those who don't know, windows Studio Effects is an AI-powered feature that enhances video feeds and microphone feeds within Windows natively, which is super cool. There's also a built-in NFC reader on the Surface Pro X for business as well now, which again is another commercial feature that those customers have been asking for.

The differences between laptop 6 for business and the consumer model are a little bit more noticeable. To my knowledge, the consumer model in May will have a slightly different design, with thinner display bezels and a haptic trackpad, whereas the Surface Laptop 6 for business looks just like the Surface Laptop 5. That's not to say there's not upgrades here as well. Has the same sort of anti-reflective screen now, which is nice to see. It has an NPU for all those Windows Studio Effects stuff, as I just mentioned. And there's now a special version of the Surface Laptop 6 for business that comes with a built-in smart card reader for organizations that want physical access to logging into a device with a card and stuff.

1:00:34 - Mikah Sargent
Okay, I kind of want a built-in NFC reader on my laptop. I don't know what I'd do with it, but it just sounds fun. I understand that in a corporate setting you would probably have your employee badge or whatever, and it's used for sign-ins and to factor authentication, but that's super cool. Let me ask you this how much did co-pilot, gen AI and all of that magical stuff make an appearance at this business event? How much was it mentioned, and did they talk at all about how it's going to be used in these devices?

1:01:12 - Zac Bowden
So Microsoft did talk a bit about co-pilot in Windows. Nothing really new. It was more of a recap of all of the co-pilot capabilities that have been rolling out on Windows for the last six months or so. It's the first time Microsoft has really presented it in front of a commercial audience, which is what this event was for. So this was the first time they sat down and said hey, commercial customers, here's why we think co-pilot's great for you.

The new devices do have dedicated co-pilot keys on the keyboard, so next to the space bar there'll be a dedicated co-pilot button. When you press that, that will pull out the co-pilot UI from the side, where you can begin talking with Microsoft's AI assistant to do whatever it is you want to do with it. But really, the more interesting AI features are yet to be announced. We think they're going to be announced alongside the consumer-facing surface devices in May, and we're expecting features such as natural language search and being able to go back in time on your computer to see activities you had open in the past on device live captions, which will be able to translate different languages in real time locally on the device, and a feature called Super Resolution, which is supposed to upscale games and frame rates within games using AI. So features like that are yet to be announced, but we're expecting them to be talked about in a couple of months. That's very cool.

1:02:23 - Mikah Sargent
This is just out of complete curiosity. Who is just like an example company? Who is it at that company that would have received the invite to this event? Like, who are the people that would be in the audience here when they're talking to corporate clients? It's not like the CEO, right? It's going to be the people who are actually going to be buying these machines.

1:02:47 - Zac Bowden
Yeah, it admins maybe, or for people who manage distribution of devices at companies. I'm not too sure. This wasn't an in-person event. It was a digital event, and Microsoft didn't really do much to advertise it either, so I'm not too sure why they thought an event was even necessary. This could have been a press release, to be honest, especially considering there's a second event happening in May for the more interesting hardware. I'm not sure why they decided to do an event today, but they did, and we have new devices at the end of it.

1:03:15 - Mikah Sargent
Nice. The last thing I'll ask you here is, of course, we just saw Satya Nadella, microsoft CEO, talk about a little bit of a shakeup or I don't even know if it's fair to call it that, but certainly the introduction of a new organization at Microsoft Microsoft AI, and the bringing in of many an employee of the generative AI company, whose name escapes me at the moment. Anything you want to tell us about that? Any thoughts on that? As AI continued, especially generative AI, continues to make its way into all of these devices, particularly, as we saw, with that actual physical co-pilot button right there on the device.

1:04:02 - Zac Bowden
Yeah. So Microsoft's internal reorg this week sort of positioned them more as an AI company than ever before. They've brought in a DeepMind co-founder I'm going to put the pronunciation of his name, mr Furst Seliman, who, like I said, he co-founded DeepMind and Inflection, which were both sort of AI projects and companies beforehand. He will be leading a team at Microsoft which now consists of a number of different products, including Bing, edge and co-pilots, as well as Windows. So Windows is now technically classed as an AI product internally at Microsoft.

So, yeah, quite a big shakeup internally. It really is all about just positioning Microsoft to be AI first. In the last 12 to 18 months, pretty much every Microsoft product and service has received some kind of AI update, whether it be a new co-pilot feature or some minor thing that sort of uses machine learning. They're all in on AI and with the new services today, microsoft is branding them AI PCs. If you're working on something at Microsoft and it doesn't have an AI tie-in, you might as well not be working on it, because Microsoft wants AI to be in pretty much everything it does now.

1:05:07 - Mikah Sargent
Hmm, yeah, it just seems like that. I just was seeing some posts on some social media site fly by where somebody was saying oh no, I just got the dreaded notification and it was co-pilot popping up to say hey, I'm here, I'm ready to help you. It's Clippy 2.0. Yeah, in any case, I want to thank you so much. You're always very thorough and provide all of the details. Thank you for stopping by to share the news on an event that could have just been an email, but I'm glad that we did get to see some new hardware and maybe a little peek at what we can expect down the line. Of course, folks can head to windowscentralcom to keep up with what you're doing, but where else should they look?

1:05:52 - Zac Bowden
You can find me on X at Zach Bowden. That's Z-A-C-B-O-W-D-E-N.

1:05:57 - Mikah Sargent
Wonderful. Thank you so much, zach. We appreciate it and we'll see you again soon. Thanks, alrighty folks. With that we have reached the end of this episode of Tech News Weekly.

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