Tech News Weekly 330 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. It's Emily Dreibelbis' turn from PCMag. Emily Dreibelbis is here as my co-host. Emily's story of the week is all about how superchargers are being made available to more EV brands, but how you may not be able to find one around you that will actually work. I also take some time to ask some general questions. I've always wondered about electric vehicles, so maybe that will be an answer that you're looking for as well. My story of the week is all about MFA Bombing attacks. Yes, how bad actors are using multi-factor authentication to try to get you to reset your passwords and gain access to your accounts and gain access to your accounts. Then Karissa Bell of Engadget, stops by to talk about the FTC potentially suing TikTok certainly investigating the company in regard to user privacy and security. Techcrunch's own Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai, is back on the show to talk about Facebook using some interesting techniques to bypass encryption in order to spy on the activity of its rivals Snapchat, amazon and more. Lastly, yes, a third interview, this with Scott Stein of CNET, who joins us to talk about his experience with the Apple Vision Pro after spending more than a month with the device. It is a jam-packed show, all of that coming up on Tech News Weekly.

This episode is brought to you by Zscaler, the leader in cloud security. Cyber attackers are using AI and creative ways to compromise users and breach organizations. In a security landscape where you must fight AI with AI, the best AI protection comes from having the best data. Zscaler has extended its zero-trust Thank you To prevent ransomware and AI attacks. Experience your world secured. Visit

0:02:11 - VO
Podcasts you love. From people you trust. This. Is TWiT.

0:02:20 - Mikah Sargent
This is Tech News Weekly episode 330. Recorded Thursday, March 28th 2024: Checking In With Apple Vision Pro. this episode of Tech News Weekly is brought to you by Vanta. From dozens of spreadsheets to fragmented tools and manual security reviews, managing the requirements for modern compliance and security programs is increasingly challenging. Vanta is the leading trust management platform that helps you centralize your efforts to establish trust and enable growth across your organization. G2 loves Vanta year after year. Check out this review from a director of information security. Vanta has helped to build trust among colleagues, who then translate to customers and prospects. What used to take me four to five hours to complete on a weekly basis, our preliminary trust report takes care of in a matter of minutes. I can't wait for our custom framework to be 100% mapped to automations Automate up to 90% of compliance, strengthen security posture, streamline security reviews and reduce third-party risk. To learn more, watch Vanta's three-minute demo video at That's

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, micah Sargent, and this has been the first official month of the new way of doing things here on Tech News Weekly, we round out this new way of doing things with our guest host of the fourth yes, fourth Thursday of the month. It's Emily Drybelbis of PCMag. Welcome back to the show, emily. Hello, thank you. Yeah, so great to have you here. So, as people are probably familiar with now, the way that this works is each of us brings a story of the week to the table and we have an opportunity to kind of talk about what's going on. So, emily, if you'd like to introduce your story of the week, we'll start there and have a nice little conversation.

0:04:34 - Emily Dreibelbis
Okay, great. Yeah, the thing in my world. I write about electric vehicles and AI for PCMag and the biggest story arguably of the year for electric vehicles is Tesla opening its supercharger network to other brands. So if you have a Rivian or a Ford right now, you can use superchargers and eventually, by the end of the year, all EV brands will have access. But what I've been focusing on a little more, I think that other people in other publications is kind of like how does this really work? And it turns out you can't just pull up to any supercharger and have the exact same experience as a Tesla. So I just wanted to get into some of those nuances today, just so people aren't set up for disappointment, which actually happened to me. So I just wanted to talk a little bit about that and what's available, how much it costs and what this deal that Tesla has made with all these other brands really means.

0:05:22 - Mikah Sargent
That is wonderful that we're talking about that, because I have to tell you I am, as a person who does not drive an electric vehicle and doesn't have anyone super close to me that does I don't know a lot about the experience, but I know that it can be perplexing and confusing if, in particular, you're not driving a Tesla, at least in this part of the US, because here, you know, you look over at any of the areas where there are those Tesla supercharger setups going on and you see Tesla after Tesla after Tesla all lined up getting their charge on. But yeah, I do think about the other types of charger, or rather electric vehicles that are out there and what's involved types of charger, or rather electric vehicles that are out there and what's involved. I would like to start, though, before you talk about how the experience is different. This may be a stupid question. It could also be that it feels like a stupid question and isn't.

I don't know, but I am genuinely curious for somebody who's driving a Tesla. I'm genuinely curious for somebody who's driving a Tesla. They drive up to the supercharger. Dealy Bob, do they put in a credit card, like I do when I get gas, and then like how much does it cost? Is it different in in one place, you know, like, is there competition, like it is with gas stations? And then what if I don't have a Tesla and I drive up to one of these and I'm in theory compatible. Tell me about that experience before we even talk about how it's different.

0:06:53 - Emily Dreibelbis
Okay, so Teslas do not put in a credit card, so it's just automatically charged to an account. So they'll plug it in and unplug it and then their account will calculate the electricity rate for that station, how long they charge, etc. And they will just get a bill and in the Tesla app you can see like oh, I charged here, here, here, here, I paid $17, $12, $8. It just depends how long you charge. So that is the same experience other brands will have with this new deal, so in their apps and in their payment systems they also won't have to pay.

But there are electric vehicle chargers that you do use a credit card, like Electrify America is another good one. Some like ChargePoint, you use an app. So there's a lot of fragmentation in EV charging, which is another reason why Tesla kind of becoming the standard charging station, charging port as well. All these other EVs are going to build Tesla's charge port into their vehicles. It's like a move towards standardization. So it is really important. But yeah, it just. There's so many different types of charging. It just depends where you are.

0:07:58 - Mikah Sargent
So is there ever an opportunity for like free? Because I've heard some people say that and how is it free? I don't understand how it can be free.

0:08:11 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah, I mean, you have a lot of good questions. I didn't even answer all the ones you first posed, and so we can get to those. But a lot of EVs, when you buy them, they'll come with some amount of free charging. So I just mentioned Electrify America. If you buy an Audi or a Volkswagen or just other brands that have a deal with Electrify America, when you pull up and you plug in, it will actually say like hey, audi, this session is free. And you're like, oh great, so you don't put your credit card in, you do your thing and then you go. And it can be other brands too. It just depends on deals that the manufacturer has made with charging companies. It could be free for a certain number of years. It could be free for a certain amount of time, it could be free for up to a certain amount. That's just something that you would have to when you're shopping to definitely check that out.

0:08:58 - Mikah Sargent
Got it. So then you're not only just buying the vehicle, you're also potentially buying a package of charging and overall does it cost more to fill up my gas vehicle than it does to refill my electric vehicle. Like which one's more expensive in like, completely devoid of everything else, in a vacuum, which is more expensive in that moment to recharge or to refill gas? I know it's different, probably in different places, but In general, fast charging is called level three charging.

0:09:39 - Emily Dreibelbis
Tesla superchargers are those as well. Those nationwide are about the same as gas. Those are public chargers. But when you charge at home with a level two charging and you're doing it at home on your own utility rate, that's generally cheaper than gas. It does take more time. And then if you look at I know you don't want to get too complicated, but if you look at different gas prices around the country, say, california gas is $4.50 a gallon. Maybe in Michigan it's $2.50. So then your equation on which one is cheaper really changes. In California they have such high EV adoption because not only is it warm there on Lake Michigan, so you don't have Ooh, this new PCMag headset it's falling, so it's warmer in California, so you don't have climate issues with your EV. And then also your gas is super expensive. So it's just much easier to have an EV and cheaper Got it. But in Michigan it's cold and gas is cheap, so it's better to have a gas car.

0:10:38 - Mikah Sargent
Ah, and can you explain why the temperature matters there?

0:10:42 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah, so battery? This is one thing about EV batteries is they're very susceptible to cold. So the range that you're advertised you'll get a lot less range in cold weather. It's just like you're driving and you're just seeing that battery go down, down, down the cold weather, particularly like below freezing, like I live in Chicago, if I park a Tesla on the street in five degree weather it will lose 15% overnight just sitting there. Wow, so it's crazy. Yeah, A lot of people don't realize that. So if you live basically best case scenario for EV driving you are a wealthy person with who can afford the sticker price of the car, you live in a single family home, you can charge at home and you have another car in case you need to go do longer trips, those people should all be buying EVs. Everybody else, I think, is very justified in waiting.

0:11:34 - Mikah Sargent
Well, that makes me feel better because there's certainly been. I mean, where I live there's so much pressure to do that, but it's always felt like it's kind of out of my reach and that you're kind of reinforcing that. That's the case. Well, let's now get back on track a little bit. That's my fault, but I think that those I would like to believe that those are questions that a lot of people do have that maybe haven't been answered so succinctly. So I appreciate you answering those. Speaking specifically of how supercharges are kind of opening up, Tell us about how. It isn't necessarily how it seems.

0:12:10 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah. So I'm like you. I can't really buy an EV right now. I live in an apartment in Chicago and I have nowhere to charge. I live on the third floor. I can't hang a cord on my balcony. My landlord would get so mad. It would just be a disaster. Some vandal would come up and cut it. I mean it just would get so mad. It would just be a disaster. Some vandal would come up and cut it. I mean it just totally doesn't work.

So when I heard that superchargers were opening, I was like, oh, maybe this is the breakthrough. This can help people like me own an EV because they can go charge. And so Ford contacts me like, hey, emily, we got a new supercharger access. Can we send you a Mach-E and an adapter for you to try a supercharger in your area? And I was like, oh, yes, of course that's awesome. And then I get the car, get the adapter beautiful car adapter works super well.

And then I pulled up the app and no superchargers in city limits of Chicago are available to non-Teslas. Again I'm like, oh man, I still can't run this EV in this city. And basically it's not just every single supercharger is open. Tesla has to enable certain stations. So they do that via a software, an OTA update to the station, and so I went on the Tesla supercharger map and zoomed in on all the major cities in the US, or at least the top five or seven, which you'll see in my article, and again, all or almost it is. If you live in an urban area, especially a dense one, new York City, san Francisco, seattle, chicago, miami, these are all cities I looked at. Zero stations in the city are going to be open to you.

0:13:57 - Mikah Sargent
You said afraid of lines. What does that mean?

0:14:00 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah, like dense areas. So just you know, there's already Teslas competing at the stations to charge.

0:14:05 - Mikah Sargent
Oh, lines Got it Afraid of having people waiting to charge. Got it, got it.

0:14:10 - Emily Dreibelbis
Exactly, yeah, waiting to charge at a charging station is like one of the weirdest social situations you'll ever have. It's like dog eat dog, like everyone's waiting in the parking lot and making eye contact and it's like revving the engine, or I guess. Yeah, Like, if you see someone get in their car and unplug the car, you're like a vulture, like trying to beat the next person. And there's this like honor system of like okay, I really got here before you. You know, really, I got here before you.

And you're like looking through the window, like, can I pull up? So it's already tough, there's already competition. And then you add in all the other brands and also Rideshare. In New York City there's a partnership with Ubers and Lyfts and a lot of Rideshares here are electric and they also are filling up supercharger stations. So, yeah, just competition. When adding in all these brands it's going to be very interesting. But it does seem like, from what we can see, tesla is kind of restricting that and kind of controlling it on the back end, and that's not often discussed.

0:15:06 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, so these other brands can also use non-Tesla means of charging? Yeah, and so maybe you can go to one of those. Can Tesla vehicles also go to non-Tesla chargers or do they need to go to a Tesla charger?

0:15:24 - Emily Dreibelbis
Many other brands also have Tesla chargers, or do they need to go to a Tesla charger? Many other brands also have Tesla chargers on the stations. Um, but a Tesla driver? I don't think they take that super seriously. I think they just route to a Tesla charger.

0:15:35 - Mikah Sargent
Ah, is there there's their incentive for that, or is it more of just a sort of cultural thing, so to speak?

0:15:43 - Emily Dreibelbis
Well, it's already like the payment we talked about. So it's already all set up. So you just plug your car in and your payment's already processed, rather than having to get out a ChargePoint app or your credit card. That makes sense. Yeah, also, the stations tend to work better. I mean that's anecdotal, but people always say like, oh, only superchargers work and there is not a standardized data set to say superchargers are more reliable than Electrify America or Blink or ChargePoint. But anecdotally, we hear that a lot. I've also experienced that. I mean, often I've gone to a charging station and I plug it in and it just like doesn't charge or the screen is black on the station and I'm like is this thing on? So that, yeah, so you're just going to have a better experience with a supercharger. So, as long as you own a Tesla, that's like a huge brand advantage and you definitely want to be taking advantage of that.

0:16:33 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, anecdotally it. I've seen the sort of upkeep that appears to be available when it comes to the Tesla spots versus maybe some of the other charging spots. Why do you think there is that difference? Is it part of Tesla's bottom line or not bottom line, but sort of I don't know? Is it part of Tesla's MO to make sure that the chargers are up to date? Is it because there's more money involved in that than there is with what is it? Charge America? I can't think of what it's called.

0:17:10 - Emily Dreibelbis
That's probably going to be the next brand. Yeah, exactly, If it isn't already.

0:17:14 - Mikah Sargent
Electrify America. Why do you think that there's a difference there in how it looks and behaves?

0:17:24 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah. So I asked the same question about a year ago to somebody who owns a charging company and I was like, why are they so much better? And basically what she explained to me is that Tesla, over many years, has invested a huge amount of money in going out across the country and really refining this network. They also have a lot of control over the connection between the chargers and their vehicles. They're built to work network. They also have a lot of control over the connection between the chargers and their vehicles. They're built to work together. They're compatible.

Whereas when you plug into, there's a lot of things that can fail. When you plug into a charging station, the charger doesn't work, the charger cable doesn't like your port, your vehicle's port doesn't work, your vehicle software doesn't work, your vehicle software doesn't charge your software. I mean there's a million things that could go wrong. There are graphs that show the route of the steps internally, like when, the technology of what's happening when that port is plugged in, and all the failure points. Tesla knows all of them. It can control all of them. Basically. So not only do they have money, time they did the work to make their charging network better, but also they're synchronizing it with their vehicles, so it's a powerful combination.

0:18:32 - Mikah Sargent
I could compare it, then, to Apple the way that its Macs and its iPhones and everything works so well together in comparison to Android, where, because it's more of an open system and there are so many different types, or even Windows versus macOS, in the sense that it's trying to, you know, have something available for everyone and everything needs to try to work together versus Apple that can focus on making sure that its products work so well together In that way. It makes sense that that's going on. Is there anything else that you want to say about this before we do take a quick break and come back with my story of the week?

0:19:11 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah, I think. Just the last thing for those who are listening, who do have a Ford or Rivian or an EV and are wanting to charge at one of these superchargers, you will have some available. It's still a huge benefit. You might expect higher charging rates. Tesla has said they will charge other brands more to charge, but to get the same rate you can get a supercharging membership of. You know, of course, $12.99 a month, so it, but hopefully it will help on your road trips. It's still 15,000 more chargers across the country that are available and it's still really exciting for the industry and I think everyone who has a car from these brands should just go out and try it and see how it works for them.

0:19:49 - Mikah Sargent
Awesome. All right, we're going to take a quick break before we come back with my story of the week. This episode of Tech News Weekly is brought to you by Zscaler, the leader in cloud security. It is no surprise that cyber attackers are using AI and creative ways to compromise users and breach organizations from high precision phishing emails to video and voice deep fakes of CEOs and celebrities. In a world where employees are working everywhere, apps are everywhere and data is everywhere, firewalls and VPNs are failing to protect organizations. They were simply not designed for these distributed environments and these AI-powered attacks. In fact, firewalls and VPNs have become the attack surface. In a security landscape where you must fight AI with AI, the best AI protection comes from having the best data. Zscaler has extended its zero trust architecture with powerful AI engines that are trained and tuned by 500 trillion daily signals. Zscaler Zero Trust plus AI helps defeat AI attacks today by enabling you to automatically detect and block advanced threats, discover and classify sensitive data everywhere, generate user-to-app segmentation to limit lateral threat movement and quantify risk, prioritize remediation and generate board-ready reports. You can learn more about Zscaler Zero Trust Plus AI to prevent ransomware and other AI attacks while gaining the agility of the cloud Experience your world secured. Visit That's Thank you, zscaler, for sponsoring this week's episode of Tech News Weekly.

All right, it is time for a PSA a public service announcement Recently on the Krebs On Security website, of course, a great place to learn about all sorts of cyber attacks. We're just talking about that with our sponsor. In general security news there was a report of what is now being called an MFA Bombing attack, and this is specifically targeting Apple users, and I've been speaking to people recently in IRL who have experienced a number of different phishing attempts that are similar to what I'm about to describe, and it has just reiterated more that I want to do my best and to have the shows that we do do the best job that we can to inform people about this, but also for the people who maybe know about this, to give them little tools to share with their loved ones, with the people in their lives, and so I want to kind of describe this attack as a way of kind of opening up your mind and making you aware so that if something like this happens to you or to someone that you know, that you just already are aware of what's going on. So for many people who have Apple IDs, apple, quite a while ago now instituted a two-factor, multi-factor authentication step, and the way that it works on Apple devices is you go to login anywhere and you are presented with a prompt that says hey, someone's trying to log in, allow or don't allow. And a map pops up and it shows you where the login is coming from and most of the time it's you hopefully logging in and you choose allow and a six digit number pops up and you type that six digit number in and then you're able to move forth and this will pop up on all of your devices that are logged into your iCloud account, except for the one, of course, on which you're trying to log in, although sometimes it does pop up there too and you're going. Why can't you just automatically paste the code no-transcript. Would you like to use this iPhone to reset your Apple ID password?

Apple instituted this feature to make it a little bit easier for people to reset their passwords. The idea is that if you're logged in on a device and you also have either authenticated that you are you by typing in your passcode or by Face ID or Touch ID authentication, then we can pretty much confirm that you are indeed you, and so if you're trying to log in to your account elsewhere you're not able to, then you can reset your password by using that device, where you have already proven that you're you. What the attacker does is they force the Apple device to show this notification over and over and over and over again. That's where the bombing term comes in, and each prompt has allow or don't allow or some form of that term terminology. And you, of course, if this is happening and you're not trying to reset your password, you should choose, don't allow. But the annoying thing is, because of the nature of these prompts, they kind of get in the way of everything and they are meant to be prompts that don't move. So you have to go through and kind of clear them all out.

And what happens when you're at the grocery store and you've got one hand full of cantaloupes and the other hand has a dozen eggs in it and you're trying to choose don't allow and you're starting to freak out a little bit because you know you're not trying to reset your password, and then the eggs drop and then you go to hit don't allow and you accidentally hit allow. That's one way that this could happen and then the password gets reset. But maybe you do properly hit, don't allow every time. What happens at that point and this is the part that I think is the kind of most unfortunate aspect of this, but clever aspect of this is then someone calls you is then someone calls you and they will at that point say we see that there's something going on with your account and somebody's trying to access your account and this, that and the other, and so we want to help you out with this. We're going to send you a pin or some sort of prompt to confirm that you are you and that this is indeed your account, to help you out with this. Of course it's not actually an Apple support person. Instead, they are getting that pin, that prompt, to make it so that they can access and reset your password and gain access to your account.

Now I wanted to describe an example of this. It was a different attack vector, so to speak, where a family friend had Verizon and the same thing was happening was getting kind of prompts about the account being at risk and this and that and the other, and then someone called from Verizon and they cleverly had changed the caller ID so that it looked like it was coming from Verizon, and they spoke with the customer support person who said we see that your account is under attack. We're going to close it down, we're going to do this. That the other, here's what I need from you.

Luckily, the person that was the bad actor that was doing this horrible thing said something about we'll need you to finish paying your bill over Zelle, and that was enough for the family member to go oh, this is fake and immediately hang up. The person then called the husband, whose line was also on the account, and tried the same thing. Luckily, they were together, they had talked and so it didn't end up working out. But that this is going on in the first place and that it's so heavily plays on that moment of fear, I think, is what's big, and I thought, emily, this would be a good opportunity to just talk about, you know, any tips that you might have as well, any if you have any stories of you know, your family friends, having these kinds of issues, and just your thoughts in general on these new means of phishing attacks that, frankly, are just iterations of how we've long dealt with with with these attempts at gaining access to our accounts.

0:28:49 - Emily Dreibelbis
It's very important and I think it's great that you are bringing this up to educate people, because one thing that really struck me about the screenshots that people who experienced this they posted them on TWiTter or X and it just looks like a regular Apple pop-up. The font is the same, the way the pop-up looks. It has the rounded edges. It just looks like a regular Apple pop-up. Like the font is the same, the way the pop-up looks, it has the rounded edges. It just looks like it's from Apple.

So I'm not a security expert, but to me it just plays into the whole like you can't believe what you see in your technology, which we're seeing a lot with AI. It's almost like what am I even looking at here? And the thing that you mentioned where the pop-ups block ability to use your phone it just looks like an Apple thing, an Apple pop-up. You're trying to use your phone in the grocery store and you have to do something weird to get rid of them. It's like people should think that if I'm doing something weird on my phone, maybe there's something wrong, even if it looks like it's from Apple. I think that's the big thing, if you have a gut feeling that this is off, like to listen to it.

0:29:48 - Mikah Sargent
Absolutely Right. Yeah, that. That, more than anything, and that is that gut feeling, is what I hope to give to more people and to instill in more people, because I've, I, I I'm proud of anyone at any time who ever mentions that they got a gut feeling and that they said, okay, I'm not doing this anymore, because that's the thing. Too often you have people who go through this and they didn't catch it, and then they spend the whole time blaming themselves and and you know, beating themselves up for not realizing what was going on. And that is don't take that frustration and anger and shame and throw it at yourself. It isn't your fault. All of that negativity should be cast at the person or the people who are doing this thing to you.

And the thing is it's so clever and it's so clearly is. It's insidious in a way, because it plays on our particular psychology. It is all about instilling a sense of fear and urgency such that we drop our guard a little bit in order to try to mitigate the risk. And that is not by accident that they are doing that. That is absolutely on purpose, and in the same way that if a big, scary dog is showing its teeth and growling at you and and its muscles are all tense and it looks like it's about to chase after you. You are probably not in that moment thinking about the eggs and the cantaloupe in your hands. You're probably just going to throw those to the side and get the heck out of there. That is that same situation here. This is trying to play on that fight or flight response and get you to not think so in these times, trying to remember to think of this and also, as you said, just kind of get in touch with that gut feeling and help to instill that gut feeling in others, I think will make all of the difference when it comes to this. And I think the best thing we can do because people who are watching the show they are probably not the people in most cases who are going to be duped by this right your job or your role in this is to learn about these different means of attack and then share that with the people in your life who you do worry could be at risk. People in your life who you do worry could be at risk.

The article also provides some great tips that I am not going to mention because I want you to go check out the piece KrebsOnSecuritycom for ways that you can kind of help yourself and help others to not experience the same issue and get this MFA Bombing happening to you. I also recommend. There's a newsletter that I subscribe to from I believe it's from the FTC and now it's escaping me yeah, the Consumer Alerts from the FTC. And if you just do a search for Consumer consumer alerts from the FTC, you can subscribe to kind of an alert system that tells you about these different scams that they're seeing more and more. That, if you can believe it, is going to bring us to the end of this first part of Tech News Weekly.

Emily Dribelbus, thank you so much for being here. I know you were just at the auto show. So much for being here. I know you were just at the auto show and so I appreciate you taking the time to join us, and if folks want to keep up with what you're doing, where are the places they should go to do that?

0:33:35 - Emily Dreibelbis
Yeah, so I'm on X I'm still getting used to calling it that, I don't know why AKA TWiTter, but my handle is electric, underscore humans, so I do, of course, write a lot about EVs. I also write about AI. That is also my handle on TikTok and then, of course, on the PCMag website. If you search my name, my bio will come right up and you'll just see all my articles and a little bit more about me. So we'd love to hear from you and check it out.

0:33:59 - Mikah Sargent
Thank you so much and we will see you in a month. Thank you, this was fun. All righty folks. With that, we're going to take a quick break before we come back with my first interview of this episode, but it is time to take a break so I can tell you about Wix Studio, who is bringing you this episode of Tech News Weekly, and it is again a lucky day for me because I can do literally anything I want with this ad spot.

Wix Studio has given me the power to choose what I want to do, to have creative freedom in how this ad spot is going to go, because that's exactly what their platform gives to web designers. So, with that in mind, my creative freedom this week, I decided, was that I was going to come up with some different birds these are fake birds and then try to figure out what their bird call would sound like. Are you ready, all right? So the first bird is an emerald tailed sky lancer. That obviously sounds like. And then there's a crimson capped mountain finch, which is just like it's sort of like erasing a whiteboard marker. There's also the golden eyed forest owl. That's like ooh, ooh. The silver winged prairie dove that's just a it's kind of like a cat purring almost. And last but not least, the sapphire-throated warbler who's I'm going to go with. That's my moment of creative freedom.

And if you would like full creative freedom too well, build your next project on Wix Studio, the platform for agencies and enterprises. Man, that was actually kind of fun. Creative freedom is a good time. So go to or click on the link on the show page to find out more. And now I hope someone out there will draw all of those birds for me. Maybe I'll put them on a Wix studio website. We'll see. All right, let's get back to the show. Hopefully my first interview was not listening, as I made all of those strange bird sounds. We'll find out. So TikTok is back on the table today. This time we're going to take a look at where the band stands and also how there is more complication heading the way of TikTok. Joining us from Engadget is Karissa Bell.

Hello, carissa us from Engadget is Karissa Bell. Hello, carissa, hello, those were some very impressive bird sounds. Oh dear, thank you. Thank you, I appreciate it. So let us talk about this. You have been covering TikTok and its potential ban in the US for some time now. Could you start just by telling us, give us an update on where things are in regard to the ban?

0:37:11 - Karissa Bell
Yeah, so the bill which is the Protecting Americans from a Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act quite a mouthful. That was passed by the House. It's now at the Senate. We're waiting for them to kind of see if they're going to. You know, pass it as is, make some changes how that vote's going to come down.

0:37:35 - Mikah Sargent
So that's kind of where we're at, waiting to see what the Senate does. It's a wait and watch kind of a moment. Now we should talk about what's new, because I do think that there's potential that it adds some level of wrinkle to things. The FTC might be getting involved with TikTok. What's going on there? And then maybe you could also tell us about the settlement that took place back in 2019 involving TikTok.

0:37:58 - Karissa Bell
Yeah, so there is a couple of reports this week that the FTC is close to wrapping up a years-long investigation into TikTok around kind around its privacy and data security practices, and we don't know what's going to come out of that. It could end up being nothing. They could end up suing TikTok or reaching a settlement that might come out with major fines for the company. So we're kind of waiting for that to come down. Definitely another major, like you said, complication, considering where they stand right now. Regarding the 2018 settlement, that was actually in relation to Musically, which was sort of the precursor to TikTok. That was the app that was acquired and then eventually became what we now know as TikTok. You know the lip syncing app and they reached a settlement with the FTC in 2019. And that was over. You know violation of children's privacy laws. You know the app.

What the FTC said at the time was that Musically had a lot of underage users under the age of 13. And there's this law called the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and under that law, tech companies, you know, aren't allowed to have users under the age of 13 unless they have parental consent. That's kind of why so many online services they don't allow any. The minimum age requirement is 13. So as a result of that settlement they had to pay a fine. The FTC also kind of stipulates a lot of rules in the future to pay a fine. The FTC also kind of stipulates a lot of rules in the future and so if you don't actually follow those kind of the terms of that agreement, then you know you could be subject to new fines. So that's one thing that was reported that the FTC is potentially looking into right now.

0:39:39 - Mikah Sargent
Understood, and I mean as a whole. This new ban has largely centered around the concern that US data could be available to individuals in China. That when we've looked at lawmakers maybe not being able to use TikTok or basically anybody in the government not being able to use TikTok versus a full out ban, that has been the concern. So if this FTC lawsuit comes into play, does it help make the argument for that ban on TikTok? Does another body that is working to kind of make changes here, can it call on another investigation that's underway as kind of more example of why it should be banned?

0:40:39 - Karissa Bell
Yeah, I mean, it certainly doesn't help TikTok's case, right?

I mean, if you, I think you know, if the FTC comes out at this moment and you know, you know, possibly in conjunction with the justice Department, and says, hey, tiktok has mishandled user data, it's misled users about the handling of that data, that would certainly provide a lot of ammunition to people that are already looking for an or to, you know, force it to sell itself to a different company. So that would certainly add to the pressure that they're facing right now. You know, I think that there is a difference between kind of allegations that they, you know, mishandled data and you know maybe weren't fully forthcoming about where it was stored. I think there's a difference between that and sort of some of the national security rhetoric we've been hearing. But I think, given the current climate, if there's any FTC, justice Department they say anything TikTok in China, I think it's pretty easy to see how that's just going to be like more and more fuel and it shows how the government is kind of coming for them on all sides right now.

0:41:55 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, that is kind of how it feels, and this is something that we've talked a lot about on this show and elsewhere. In regard to the TikTok ban, I've kind of felt like I as a citizen, with the information that I have as a citizen regarding TikTok, that the ban itself seems, or has seemed, overblown. But then I thought maybe I just don't have the full picture here, maybe there's something that I as just a normal citizen don't have access to that would speak to a more alarming situation going on, and that's why there's this huge push for a ban, and you recently reported on classified briefings between lawmakers and intelligence officials. I was hoping you could tell us a bit about that and maybe some of the rather large grains of salt that you suggest we kind of keep as we process that information.

0:42:53 - Karissa Bell
Yeah, again, I think you know these briefings kind of show just how much of a push there is, you know, within the government right now to make this happen. So, before the bill was voted on in the House, they, you know, had a classified briefing for lawmakers, you know, about some of the national security risks. And then, after it passed, they did a similar one in the Senate as well and they, you know, we don't really know what was in that briefing. You know some lawmakers came out, you know, in the House after and they said, wow, this was really shocking and concerning and you know they, you know, really seemed to kind of build support for this bill. On the other hand, there were other lawmakers who were pretty skeptical and said, you know, a data privacy law would address most of what we heard. And, you know, perhaps they didn't describe anything that was so unique to TikTok. So, and I think this kind of gets at one of the bigger questions that we still don't know, which is the exact nature of the national security allegations about the supposed risks it poses.

Right now, if you look into the reporting for years now, a lot of it is still sort of theoretical, like maybe the Chinese government could pressure ByteDance to manipulate the algorithm or expose user data in a way that they would use for some kind of geopolitical purpose. You know, but nobody has. Actually we haven't seen any public evidence of that happening on a large scale. Actually, we haven't seen any public evidence of that happening on a large scale. Certainly, you know, if the government knows something that we don't and they're sharing these classified briefings, then you know, I think that would certainly change the conversation a lot. And so we saw there were two senators, richard Blumenthal and Marshall Blackburn, who kind of wrote a letter to the DNI and said you know, let's declassify what we heard in these briefings so the public can decide for themselves. And I think if that were to happen it would kind of go a long way towards answering some of these big questions.

0:44:55 - Mikah Sargent
Ah, my fingers are crossed as I just I would like to know if it is more than just you know. Oh, look it, it can look at photos on your device. And then I go okay, so can almost every other app on my device. And it's just, as you kind of point to in your piece, just a lack of understanding of how modern technology works. But yeah, I would love for that to be declassified and I think that it would go a long way to helping with the whole thing in general, because we saw TikTok put out that prompt to its user saying, hey, there's talk of a ban in the United States and that might be coming and having more of the general public having its say regarding that. I think it was an interesting move to make, given what was at stake and what the company was being accused of, but at the same time it was kind of cool to see mobilization in a way.

Now I did want to mention something else that you recently reported on, because I think sometimes you see companies that are at the forefront of some issue, issue. They sort of pivot all of their focus and all of their time and everything and attention to whatever's going on. But then there are some companies who kind of try to. It's almost like play the long game, so to speak, in the sense that while they're trying to handle all of this, they're still trying to keep business as usual. And so there is a TikTok Youth Council that the company is currently sort of set in place. Can you tell us a little bit about that and just in general why it would still be kind of doing business as usual despite the fact that it may very soon or could potentially be banned in the US?

0:46:50 - Karissa Bell
Yeah, so the Youth Council is something that they announced last June, I believe. You know there's been, alongside all these kind of national security concerns and you know, around TikTok there's also been, you know, a big dialogue about youth safety. And you know, and are TikTok and other social media apps used by teenagers actually safe for them? Are they doing enough to protect them from harms? And there's been a lot of rhetoric around that as well, and so we've seen TikTok and other companies have released a lot of child safety focused features, and so one thing that TikTok also said that they were going to do was form something called the Youth Council, which is a group of teenagers who you know are TikTok users and have them kind of advise the company on, you know, safety issues, give their perspective, as you know creators, you know big users, kind of help them craft policies and perhaps safety features and kind of be part of this broader dialogue around making it safe. So what they announced was that that council has now been formed. It's several teenagers from around the world between the ages of 15 and 18, I believe and they've already had two meetings, including one where the CEO of TikTok was actually present, and they kind of are helping advise on, you know, redesigning a youth portal which kind of has resources for teens, and you know they're sort of engaging with the company about, you know, media literacy and some of these other big issues.

I think the point you made about playing the long game is a good one. I think TikTok is definitely a company that does play the long game and you know are thinking strategically, and so, you know, I don't want to be cynical and say that this is, you know, the timing of this was to kind of distract from some of the other issues, but I think it, you know it does kind of show that they, you know, want to be seen, as you know that they're taking these issues seriously and you know that they're trying something new that you know other companies perhaps aren't doing. I think we're going to have to wait and see, like, how much of an impact this actually has, if it's just kind of for show or if there's kind of meaningful changes. You know policy features otherwise that you know come from this.

0:49:17 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, definitely. Well, carissa Bell, I want to thank you for taking the time to join us today to give us an update on what's going on with TikTok and this potential lawsuit or announcement of investigation, or whatever it ends up being, with the FTC. Of course, folks can head to engadgetcom to check out the work that you're doing. Is there anywhere else they can go to follow along with what you're doing online?

0:49:41 - Karissa Bell
Yeah, I'm mostly on threads these days, so you can find me on threads. Carissa B. I am still on TWiTter slash X as well, so you can follow me there too.

0:49:49 - Mikah Sargent
Awesome. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. Thanks All righty folks coming up my next interview, but I'll take a quick break here to tell you about Club TWiT at twittv slash club twit For $7 a month, $84 a year, you out there can join the club, join the fun, and when you do, not only do you get that warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you have helped to make sure that we can keep doing what we're doing here bringing these shows to you, talking to folks, introducing new people, to talk about tech news.

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Plus, you can head to, as it stands,, and as a club member, you are able to get a seat for a live recording of TWiT this Week in Tech. So if you haven't head there, one of our days is completely booked, so there's just one other day that's available. So, again, ticketstwittv for that. Again, twittv slash, club twit to sign up, and we thank you for your support. All right, it is time to talk about a story that, wow did it stick out to me as something that we needed to talk about on the show today. It involves meta Snapchat and an interesting name for an interesting project. Joining us from TechCrunch is Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai, who is back on the show to talk about this. Welcome back to the show, lorenzo.

0:52:09 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
Hi, thanks for having me.

0:52:16 - Mikah Sargent
Yes, it has been a while and we're so glad to get you back Now. Before we get into those nitty gritty details about this, I was hoping we could start with you telling us a bit about the class action lawsuit underway that actually brought the information we're about to talk about to the forefront.

0:52:35 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
Yeah, so I haven't followed this class action lawsuit too much, but the basics are that there's two people, maximilian Klein and Sarah Graybert, who have brought this class action lawsuit against Facebook, or Meta, claiming that Facebook violated the privacy of its users with the goal of gaining competitive advantage against other companies. The companies that have been mentioned are Snapchat, amazon, YouTube and we'll get into Snapchat more obviously and essentially, what the plaintiffs allege is that Facebook used people's data without telling them, harvested their data with the goal and I'm quoting from the lawsuit harvested their data with the goal, and I'm quoting from the lawsuit. Facebook exploited the rich data it deceptively extracted from its users to identify nascent competitors and then acquire, copy or kill these firms. And as part of the discovery in this lawsuit, we found out about Project Ghostbusters.

0:53:23 - Mikah Sargent
Yes, so that's the name, project Ghostbusters, and if you think about it, I can certainly think of one company that has something to do with a ghost. So tell us about Project Ghostbusters. What is it?

0:53:38 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
Yeah, so the name comes from Snapchat's logo, which is a ghost, obviously, and the program was part Project Ghostbusters was part of a larger program called In-App Action Panel, which is a much more boring name. Essentially, this program was to collect intelligence about competitors like Snapchat and, in the case of the Project Ghostbusters, they intercepted the analytics, the traffic between Snapchat's users and the company's server. This traffic is usually encrypted, so you can't just intercept it right away. So what they did was they used what is usually called men in the middle or adversary in the middle, which essentially means that you position yourself between the user and the server and see what's going on there. So it was a technique to intercept and decrypt the traffic from Snapchat users, which Facebook would otherwise not have been able to do.

0:54:41 - Mikah Sargent

So I just kind of want to reiterate that, essentially, if you open up the Snapchat app and you are typing a message and you're doing all of that and you are playing around in the app, that is kind of a conversation that takes place between you and Snapchat and that means that other apps on your device or other means of accessing that it's not typically available.

And even if another app was somehow able to, it's like if another app was able to be in the same room with you as you and Snapchat were talking that other app would not be able to understand the language that the two of you were speaking. But Facebook Meta was looking at a way to almost have like a translator there to actually understand what it was before the language changed. I know that's a little bit muddy, but my point is this is something that kind of flies in the face of the typical way that we understand our devices to work and the apps on our devices to work and the communications that we have with different services. I was hoping you could provide some more detail about how the company was planning to get around the encrypted traffic and then you maybe could tell us about Onavo or Onavo or however it's said, and TechCrunch's involvement in how that service went away.

0:56:25 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
Yeah, so let's start with what they did with Snapchat. So yeah, as you say, the idea of using encryption over the internet and in apps is that people that are not involved in that transaction, in that communication, cannot just spy on it. Back in the day, the internet was not encrypted and someone just sitting on your Wi-Fi or intercepting internet traffic could see what people were doing. Now that's almost impossible to do because everyone is using SSL or TLS encryption, and that's what Snapchat did and, as you say, every other app does it. So Facebook had a problem because, as some emails that have come out as part of the lawsuit say, zuckerberg himself was worried that Snapchat was rising. They were getting users and they were worried that they would, you know, maybe still use this on Facebook, and they needed to know what these users were doing, sort of to understand why people are using Snapchat, what were the features that were attracting them to Snapchat. So the solution that Facebook's engineers came up with was to use the code that Onavo used.

Onavo is, or was actually a VPN. That was its own company initially. It started in 2013 or earlier, now I don't remember. Facebook at some point purchased it and was marketing it as a VPN. So the engineer said well, let's use the code that Unavo has and we'll get users to install this code and we'll essentially sit on the user's devices and we'll be able to see everything that the users do on those devices For marketing, for competitive advantage purposes. It's the best thing you can do. You can really see what everyone is doing on their apps and their phones.

And this was also part of another project, a project called well. So they marketed this as a Facebook research app and they paid users, including teenagers, to install this app so they could observe the activities of the users. And this was revealed by one of my colleagues former colleagues at TechCrunch in 2019. Techcrunch revealed at the time that Facebook was paying people up to $20 per month to essentially let Facebook spy on their activities. When this program came out, apple said that Facebook should not be doing that with iOS users because they were breaking the developer's policies, and eventually Facebook shut down. The program, took out the app both from iOS and from Android, and it was kind of a big deal at the time, and today, or rather this week, what we found out is that the program was much larger than we thought and was targeted at other companies like Snapchat, amazon and YouTube.

0:59:17 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, and what I thought kind of was also shocking is how this really came from the top right. This was directed by, according to the documents and the emails directed by, mark Zuckerberg, who said, who pointed very clearly to the problem as Zuckerberg saw it. We hear about Snapchat. It's an up and coming company, but we can't get access to the data because all y'all keep telling me that it's encrypted, so we need to find a way to get around it. So make that happen. Chop, chop. I mean that is so direct and, as you point out too, it expanded from just, you know, project Ghostbusters to being a project that focused on other companies. What were the other companies besides Snapchat?

1:00:09 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
Yeah, there were Amazon and YouTube and presumably this is not in the lawsuit, but you know, presumably Facebook was worried about them because of Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Video. You know, obviously for a company like Facebook it makes sense to know what people are doing on Amazon or what people are doing on YouTube.

1:00:25 - Mikah Sargent
And that left me wondering. At the end, did anyone at the company express concern about this practice?

1:00:34 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
Yeah, there were some people that were concerned. There were a lot of people involved in this. The lawsuit actually says that there were, at some point, 41 lawyers involved. So Facebook clearly knew that there was something. This was something they needed to do carefully and at the time, the head of security engineering at Facebook, pedro Kanawati, said, and I quote I can't think of a good argument for why this is okay.

No security person is ever comfortable with this. No matter what the content we get from the general public, the general public just doesn't know how this stuff works. Essentially, his argument was that, even if you tell the users, please, let us do this, install this app so that we can do some research on your device. His argument was that most people didn't realize that actually, what this means is that they're exposing all their internet traffic to Facebook, because, again, this is not just Snapchat. By installing this Facebook called them kits by installing these kits on the phones, facebook was essentially able to see everything that people did, from how they use Snapchat to the messages they were sending to friends, potentially their access to the whole device.

1:01:45 - Mikah Sargent
And the last question I have for you is because you hear about this being a project that they once worked on, to the best of your knowledge, and maybe sort of TechCrunch's general knowledge as you understand it, meta slash. Facebook still practicing this level of data collection, or did that kind of go the way of the dodo when onovo onavo went away?

1:02:11 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
yeah, so the? Yeah, the company said that it stopped years ago when these stories came out in 2019, you know, I don't have any updated knowledge about that. I would be surprised if they do it, especially after they got caught and Onavo was essentially folded. When Facebook got it, it incorporated inside the company and I think after 2019, they essentially placed all the employees within Facebook in other, you know, departments and effectively doesn't exist anymore.

1:02:43 - Mikah Sargent
Understood. Well, Lorenzo, I want to thank you so much for taking some time to talk about this story. That again, I was just kind of wow, blown away by by, just by it. In general, Of course, folks can head to techcrunchcom to keep up with your work. Is there anywhere?

1:03:03 - Lorenzo Franceschi-Biccierai
else they should look to stay up to date with what you're doing. I'm still on Twitter / X, at LorenzoFB and on other social media apps with that handle.

1:03:11 - Mikah Sargent
Awesome. Thank you so much. We appreciate it and we'll see you again soon. Thanks for having me. All righty, let us take a quick little moment here, because Google loves to sign me out at the most inopportune times of my account, and then we will continue on with what Another interview? What Three interviews this week? Yes, surprise, surprise, we have three interviews this week. Yes, surprise, surprise, we have three interviews this week, and my next one is a check-in on a device that I have previously said. I gladly returned to the company from whence it hailed, joining us to talk about more than a month of experience with Apple Vision Pro. It's Scott Stein of CNET. Welcome back to the show, scott. Hey, glad to be on, glad to have you here. So, yes, you have been using the Apple Vision Pro for more than a month. At this point, and before we get into kind of the details of that one month later review you did, I just had a basic question. I wanted to ask you how often do you find yourself using the Apple Vision Pro?

1:04:27 - Scott Stein
I would say it's like every couple of days, and I'd say that it's one of those things where I do go to it a lot because I also cover tech. So you know it's very hard to pull that apart from this story here. You know, I am always interested in learning what's new, but I find that I like to do work in it. I don't always do work in it, but I like the idea of immersing myself in it when I'm sitting at my desk. And if I, you know, watch movies I don't have any movie playing experiences as good as that, just for me. But those are very narrow uses and so you know I will pop in for an hour, hour and a half and then I will not be using it the rest of the day.

1:05:06 - Mikah Sargent
Wow, Wow, Okay. So yeah, I mean you regularly use it, which is something to be said for, I think, kind of the general takeaway that I've seen about the devices it does tend to be. One or the other People had discomfort and decided that it just wasn't for them or they're able to use it and be comfortable with it. So I was hoping you could start by talking about what you briefly touched on there your movie and media watching experience, because I struggled to spend time in the device. Uh, it for me caused, it started to bring on almost migraine level pain, Uh, and I was. That made me surprised to hear that you were able to genuinely use it as a home theater, with a few caveats. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

1:06:00 - Scott Stein
genuinely use it as a home theater, with a few caveats. Could you tell us a little bit about that? Yeah, so you know and this is another thing like, I use a lot of VR. So so whether I've trained myself to be more used to this or whether I've just kind of accepted at, you know how this feels, is another interesting question, cause, like I could see the struggle with it.

You know it's, it's um, it requires a lot of fidgeting, I find, to get it into the right place on your head, and that's something that you know. It's not an instant auto. It fits, and I've started using the one, the dual loop strap, which feels like a CPAP strap to me, because I use a CPAP and um, and you get it to just the point where it's resting right and once it's there, I feel like I could wear it for a really long time. It doesn't feel heavy for me, but it needs to be in that position. And then also, the eye tracking sometimes falls out of sync and sometimes I'll find that, you know, it's like my eyes sometimes feel a little bit dry while wearing it if I'm, but this is after like an over an hour of using it. So you know, but that's true with a lot of VR headsets.

So, yeah, those are a lot of the difficult points. And then, even like, the thing that frustrates me and I've written about this is that in general, the interface works fine in these larger motions, but for precision, for tapping certain things that you need to tap, to look at a little icon, I find that it's very hit and miss, and so that throws you out even for a little bit. Then you're going to go why am I doing this? I need to stop using it, and so I have a high tolerance for fiddling with stuff, um, and I think of it as part of the experiment, but I really wish that weren't the case with this headset right now. Um, I imagine they're going to improve hand tracking over time and eye tracking, um, as much as they can, but, um, you know it's. It's that part Interesting. Talk about pain.

1:07:44 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah that you say that, because I think that this this is where I thought I would be a little bit more able to use it is. I also have, for the most part, a high tolerance for fiddling. It's interesting talking to someone who's not super steeped in tech, who doesn't do kind of reviews, and it is always a moment where I'm reminded not to take things for granted. Because I'm so used to fiddling, my phone can mess up in four or five ways and it just flies by. Because I can fiddle, it doesn't matter.

And so the fact that you feel and it makes sense, that you kind of go into it ready for that and that you've used lots of VR and that's what makes me wonder if that's kind of what makes has made other people able to find the joy, or whatever it happens to be, with using this and to be able to regularly use it is just accepting from the get-go that that's part of the experience. When it came to the movie and media watching, what has it been about the headset that makes you want to put it on instead of watching it? Know, watching it on? I don't know if you've. I mean, then this could be it too. Do you have a large TV that you could be watching it on instead, or is it that this is the device that is big enough for you to kind of get the full experience?

1:09:13 - Scott Stein
Yeah, I have like a. I have a 60 inch uh non OLED TV. That's like you know. It's like a Samsung one I got a handful of years ago and it's, it's good.

Our audio system is not great on it and, and so for me, the audio on the headset is surprisingly great and so for even hearing things, like you know, in the full crispness. There's a lot of times where people complain about audio sometimes being weird, on streaming for certain audio systems and hearing dialogue, and you know I find that it's, it's. It works really well on the headset. Um and again, just like the vividness of the display and and the size of it and those things all work really well. For me, it's its best, you know, feature, but it's not shareable. And and I also find like, oh, you know how do other people feel about it? When I give demos to people at the office, like I'm always surprised at how much they're wowed by it too, like I go, okay, it's not just me thinking this. Like I think it has a visual, wow, yeah, but the part and audio is surprisingly good.

I think a lot of people have remarked on that and but the thing that where it falls off, like you said, is kind of the, the longer term, use the and, for me, the inputs. I now, as you were talking about this, I was thinking like the. Where Apple needs to go with this is to kind of allow you to use other inputs more easily. Like I don't know how there may be a wall on eye and hand tracking, you know. You know how far it can get you, but if you could use your phone to, like um, scroll through stuff, you know, allow it to be a controller, which I'm sure they're going to do at some point. Have more like, not just a keyboard and trackpad like other stuff.

You know, if it's the Apple Watch someday or other things, that I think will help with the precision, because that's weird and also just better comfort, better fits. Like only these two straps is very limiting and people have already been hacking different things about trying to find the right fits. Like only these two straps is very limiting and people have already been hacking different things about trying to find the right fits and they need to move on that fast. And you know, cause. It's like, if it's not comfortable, if it's not feeling right, if the display is good but everything else is throwing you out, then I feel like those other parts need to need to be addressed.

1:11:16 - Mikah Sargent
I agree, I agree. Now you also talk about your use of the device for work, and in that conversation you mentioned wanting better multitasking. I was curious to hear what you meant when you said that, because I think for a lot of people they imagine 10, 12 different screens all up and being able to multitask, and so for you to say I want multitasking to be better, they might be confused. What does that mean exactly?

1:11:44 - Scott Stein
Well, I'll tell you, you know exactly like that. It's cool that you can drop all these displays all around you. You know they're all going to be, um, ipad type displays or vision OS one, so they're all imagine like a whole bunch of iPad apps floating around you which you know from iPad apps. Like some of them can be really useful and some of them you're like I kind of wanted the one that was on my Mac book or something, and um, and so your Mac, when it mirrors, will only show one display right now, and it can be a nice big display but unfortunately can't do two, even though that seems like it could be possible at some point. And that's a little bit of the problem for me. Like you can copy and paste things and kind of drag things across from window to window, but it's not as intuitive as you'd think. Like I kind of want to grab things and have them go bloop and, you know, fly over here and then drag them, and it's not quite like that.

And then the hand tracking and the control stuff. It's a strange transition. There are times where I'm using if you're using the MacBook, it's only the keyboard and trackpad. I can't use my hand with the MacBook display, which throws me out, because on every other one I can and then sometimes, if you're working on with your hands, it'll activate something you didn't realize and then you go wait, what happened there? Do I go back here? And so that's the part where the multitasking feels odd, and I think I'm not the only one to say this. But, like, weirdly, siri is the most useful thing, which is not something that I'm used to.

1:13:10 - Mikah Sargent
That is so shocking to hear. Yeah, I noticed multiple times in your review you mentioned using Siri and I thought I know Well, cause at least it's discreet and it's always listening.

1:13:21 - Scott Stein
So I actually now my default would be to say you know, siri, open blank, and it would open I don't want to activate anything on my computer. And then, um, and then it will open a window next to me. It's easier than opening the app window and finding something, but then the problem is, where do I rely on that? But it also makes me wonder about where Apple's going to go with AI and generative AI, because I've been saying this for a little while now that, like meta and others, their ambitions are that AI and AR become really intertwined. And I think that those become really useful on a headset, because you don't have good, good, reliable inputs necessarily. You know like these things are still, like the hands are still works in progress. It's not, you know, on a phone you're like, well, if I can use my fingers, why would I use an AI? But on a headset you might do that more.

1:14:13 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, yeah, because I mean, think about Amazon's A-L-E-X-A in its traditional form. Voice was the only way to interact with it, and so you A you got used to it, but also the engineers who made it and the way that you interacted with it all had to be created in a way that there was no screen fallback, there was no input fallback other than the voice. And, yeah, seeing this as a means of of the idea that generative ai could help the computer system, on the other end, translate all the weird ways that we ask for a thing I think is really compelling, and I'm looking forward to that now in your piece. I. For me, the most compelling aspect of your review was when you kind of asserted that your use of the Apple Vision Pro quote doesn't overlap much with the MetaQuest 3. Tell me what that means. That was so interesting to me.

1:15:13 - Scott Stein
Yeah, I'm pretty surprised, more than I thought. I realized that these are really addressing completely different things. Like for the Quest 3, I've gotten in a real habit where it became a workout device for me and it really helped me in the past year where I was using Supernatural, which is an app a lot of people use, and I've set up a. You know I will go to it for that and a lot of days just for that, and it will just be like I do a half an hour exercise and I'm not going to go back in the headset and other times I'll play games on it.

But whereas the Vision Pro, I want to watch a movie because I think, oh, it'll be nice to watch in this, or I'm going to focus on getting work done which I could do on the Quest, but it doesn't feel as nice as working, especially on Apple's MacBook, as you know, working on Vision Pro, if I have both there. But so then they become totally different use sets. You know it's Pro if I have both there, but so then they become totally different use sets. You know it's.

I don't find that I'm playing games on the Vision Pro much at all and I think there just aren't that many games and I don't really find them all that interesting. And it also is bigger feeling headset with the battery pack doesn't have controllers, so you know the Quest just feels more designed for that and I think it's interesting that right now they feel a lot more different, but I imagine that they're going to feel more similar over time. Meta keeps pushing for more of the hand tracking and AI and other things and display quality maybe, and Apple's going to be trying to figure out some of these other features.

1:16:39 - Mikah Sargent
It's really interesting that you bring up the workout thing, because I also, like many people, use I haven't recently, but have in the past used that. Is it supernatural, superhuman?

1:16:52 - Scott Stein
Yeah, supernatural.

1:16:52 - Mikah Sargent
Supernatural and really enjoyed it, thought it was great. And I remember putting on the Apple Vision Pro the first time and I thought there's no way I would want to work out in this at all and it had me kind of almost questioning my own history. Am I gaslighting myself at this moment thinking, if it's anything like this, how did I ever feel comfortable doing fitness in this thing, doing fitness in this thing? And yeah, the experiences are so different and everything about it is so different. And I'm with you too on the offering more opportunities for more precise multi-tracking, because we're not multi-tracking but tracking of what's going on. I was almost of what's going on.

I was almost never so disappointed with my experience as I was when I opened up and used Fruit Ninja on the Apple Vision Pro. It looked great and I wanted it to work, but I could almost never get it to work. It never would track my hands properly. I knew I was slicing those fruits, but those fruits were not slicing and I thought, why don't I have hand controllers? If I only had hand controllers? And I get it, I get what they were trying to do. They're saying ooh, look, it's so much better because you don't need to have all these extra peripherals, but those peripherals do make a difference when it comes to precision, and if you're going to be doing things like working with a small or working with a screen that has small touch targets, it makes sense to have better, more precise methods of interacting. So, yeah, I'm with you on all of that. Any last thoughts that you do want to share about the Apple Vision Pro, now that you've been using it for more than a month?

1:18:36 - Scott Stein
Yeah, so I mentioned a little bit about shareability and now that this is a huge thing for more than a month. Yeah, so I mentioned a little bit about shareability and now that this is a huge thing for everybody because they may think it was a personal device, but it's weird how much that's missing on a couple of levels. One, it's very hard to share with a friend in the same room because there is no Vision Pro phone app and kind of shockingly and I would think you would start sessions from there, get the streaming going and even launch apps for somebody as they were sitting there, just like the Quest does, and Apple not having that really makes it a very clunky experience. But also sharing experiences with other people like not just other Vision Pro owners, which is a small subset, but with iPhone, ipad, mac people, especially iPhone iPad. They have AR and Microsoft thought about this with HoloLens and a lot of companies talked about shared mixed reality experiences where you could see something on your phone, you could be in the headset, you could collaborate, and that's still a big missing piece here and I would expect that at WWDC I would hope that they would address some of that, but I think that's also going to help people understand what this is.

So you say, oh, I don't have the Vision Pro, but I have a phone. But I can experience some of that in my own way. You know they have air on the phones but right now the two do not interconnect at all.

1:19:54 - Mikah Sargent
Right, hmm, hmm, hmm. Well, I am very, very curious to see what Apple announces for the next iteration of Vision OS at WWDC in June and how that might influence your future experience with the device, and hopefully we'll get to have you back on around that time to see what you think. Of course folks can head to cnetcom to keep up with what you're doing. Is there anywhere else they should?

1:20:24 - Scott Stein
go to follow along. I know always a tough question now in this world it's impossible, but I am still on Twitter, so, uh, you can check me out there. You can also check me out on threads and help me get some people, some followers on threads. Also, I'm on Blue Sky and Mastodon too, but Mastodon, you know, now I'm federated with the threads thing, so you may see two Scott Steins there Understood.

1:20:50 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, it is so, so confusing to try to find people in all the places now. Thank you, scott, so much for your time. We appreciate it and we'll see you again soon. Yeah, thanks, and with that we have reached the end of this episode of Tech News Weekly. The show publishes every Thursday at You just head to that site,, to subscribe to the show in audio and video formats.

As I mentioned in the midst of the show, if you want all of our shows ad-free, check out Club TWiT $7 a month, $84 a year at twittv slash club twit. If you'd like to follow me online, the best way to find me at all of those different places is by going to chihuahuacoffee that's C-H-I-H-U-A-H-U-Acoffee, where I've got links to those different social media sites and more. Check out Hands on Mac and iOS Today that we'll publish later today, as it is Club TWiT Thursday, as well as Ask the Tech Guys, which is recorded on Sundays. Leo Laporte and myself we take your questions live on air and do our best to answer them, and I will see you again next Thursday for another episode of tech news weekly. Bye, bye, everybody.

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