Tech News Weekly Episode 302 Transcript

0:00:00 - Mikah Sargent
Coming up on tech news weekly. We kick things off with an interview from the information's Wayne Ma about how Apple has suddenly started spending a whole lot more money on conversational AI, but how the company has actually been working on this for some time. Then I have my first story of the week all about the EU naming its gatekeepers, and boy, the digital markets act. It's a tough act. Then we talked to Dan Moran of Six Colors about Apple's upcoming September iPhone event what we can expect, what we can maybe expect and what we probably shouldn't expect before we round things out with a fascinating article from Vulture, all about rotten tomatoes and how the system is maybe hacked from time to time to give favored reviews. All of that coming up on tech news weekly. This is tech news weekly episode 302, recorded Thursday, september 7th 2023. Eu names DMA gatekeepers. This episode of tech news weekly is brought to you by Collide. Collide is a device trust solution for companies with Okta, and they ensure that if a device isn't trusted and secure, it can't log in to your cloud apps. Visit collidecom slash T N W to book an on demand demo today and buy Bitwarden. Get the open source password manager that can help you stay safe online. Get started with a free teams or enterprise plan trial, or get started for free across all devices as an individual user at bitwardencom, slash, twit and by Brooklyn, and experience the difference for yourself and check out Brooklyn and his new fall collection for bed and bath. Visit in store or online at Brooklyn and calm and use code T N W for $20 off your online purchase of $100 or more, plus free shipping.

Hello and welcome to tech news weekly, the show where every week we are. In this case, I talked to and about the people making and breaking the tech news. I am your one host this week. Micah Sargent, jason Howell will be back, but until then, you are with me and I am very excited to kick off this show this week with an interview that I actually had a little earlier on. I wanted to talk to Wayne Ma of the information in, about Apple's dabbling perhaps, or maybe more than that, in AI. So take a listen to this, alrighty. So I am really excited about this next interview because I have been thinking about what Apple and AI is going to mean for the company going forward. Joining us today to actually talk about what we could see in the future from Apple and AI is Wayne Ma of the information was written a wonderful piece about this. Hello Wayne.

0:03:14 - Wayne Ma
Hi, thanks for having me.

0:03:16 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, it's a pleasure to have you on the show. So you know, this is. This is something that happened recently. I was at at a interview show and there were some Apple execs, and including Craig Federighi, on stage, and they kind of asked okay, look, we're seeing all these companies doing chatbots and all sorts of different AI. Where is Apple in all of this? And so what I you know, what we saw the execs talk about was look in.

When it comes to AI, apple's doing a bunch of AI. It's all behind the scenes, it's all the software. We've been doing this for a long time, and so you kind of then, from that point on, heard that over and over again. If you're wondering about AI, well, technically it's what powers Siri. Technically, it's what the ML chips are. It's kind of a party line at this point, and so I was kind of surprised in hearing that the company has actually been working on this kind of AI that we're about to talk about for a while. So can you tell us about how long ago Apple started researching LLM based features and functionality and then maybe explain how that specific kind of AI is different from something like the ability for me to tap and hold on a photo in the Photos app and have it lift that thing out of the background.

0:04:36 - Wayne Ma
Sure, sure. So I guess at the very beginning, you know Apple, even though chat GPT only came out last year, the research community, that machine learning research community has known about large language models that power chat bots like chat GPT for years, and in fact, in 2020, openai released GPT 3, and that actually got the attention of lots of researchers, although not the general public. It wasn't until November that that happened, and so Apple laid the foundation for this by hiring the head of Google's AI in search in 2018. And so he set about to create this new organization called AI ML. That was separate from the software organization that was run by Craig Federighi and you know he gave you know Apple wasn't known for AI ML research. A lot of people didn't like to do AI ML to Apple because they couldn't publish research papers and that was one way to further your career, and Google allowed that as well.

And you know Apple's culture is that you work on things that tend to that shift.

You know they don't spend a lot of time doing long term research on things that may not. You know that may end up dead ends, but Google was the opposite of that. You know there's lots of people at Google just working on things that may never see the light of day. And so the former head of Google AI in search John he's known as JG with an Apple and Google, he set about to kind of change that culture. You know, they created this New York and he created all these research teams and hired, he convinced, persuade the lots of people at Google to join him in the effort to join him at Apple as well. And so by 2019, a year later, there were all the kind of chess pieces had been in place, you know, for the, for Apple researchers to be able to kind of look at these kind of large language models. But at the time, of course, it was still kind of an emerging field. You know, people weren't really clear what these things could do, and so the team was very small at the very beginning in 2019.

0:06:29 - Mikah Sargent
Understood, okay. So yeah, it kind of started out small, but they they had their eye on the ball. It's just we hadn't necessarily seen this externally. So you know, I talked about them researching the features and functionality and kind of speaking of that is Apple as far as you understand it, as far as what they seem to be working on internally, is Apple's aim to create a Siri version of the chatbots we're seeing everywhere. I know that Snapchat chatbot was not a very popular feature that launched, so is that where Apple's going with this? Like, how is the company working on implementing this, this conversational AI, as they're calling it?

0:07:07 - Wayne Ma
Yeah, it's interesting. You know, when OpenAI's chat GPT came out, I thought to myself, oh, this would be perfect for Siri. But it turns out that people that Apple have been very dismissive of chatbots. They don't really see much use for them and even prior to chat GPT they were really interested in having, you know, users having back and forth conversations with Siri. You know they saw that as kind of like entertainment. Maybe some people liked it, but really they wanted to use Siri to get tasks done. You know you ask the Siri a question, it gives you the answer and tells Siri to turn on the light. It turns on the light. That's really what they want Siri to be.

The other issue is that Apple's very careful about its brand and it can't have chatbots hallucinating and being racist or aggressive with you and that is and even like a very small thing you know could go viral If it happens anywhere in the world anytime. You know Google and Microsoft do care about this, but just not as much, right, I mean Apple's marketing. You know, the reason why they're great at selling products partially is because they're marketing. So they've also always been very fearful of that and don't think they can control it. So really, what they see.

You know what they want to use these models for is to understand your language rather than to generate a language. They want to understand what your intent is, what you're saying. So you know you tell the iPhone, set a calendar to this date while playing a playlist and emailing me on a reminder, all the while making sure they take a photo at this time. You know you can say like four things at once, and now, if they've trained a large language model, you know to do this. You know better understand what your, your, your meaning is, and it'll be able to translate that into tasks that will help you get more work done on the iPhone.

0:08:41 - Mikah Sargent
Okay, that's very clever.

I have to be honest with you, I didn't quite pick that out in reading through the piece, outside of understanding that, yes, they were focused on essentially, like, using shortcuts, the app and the system as a means of interacting with AI, but the idea that that gives the company the ability to kind of avoid any opportunities for a chat bot saying some stuff that it shouldn't be saying, that is very clever and that's just something that, you know, I hadn't considered in Apple's sort of attempts to not not play around in that space.

But, yes, to just be able to understand your intent better and to turn it into a language that then the computer can understand and do what it needs to do, that is that's fascinating. Now, one of the things that I think sticks out with this you talk about how Apple's focus on on device processing. They love to use that as a selling point. There's there's privacy implications, and so knowing that my device is doing a lot of this processing, is is doing my, my face ID, all of that is a selling point for the company. So could this be at odds with conversational AI? And like, why is that the case?

0:09:55 - Wayne Ma
for people who might not understand that yeah, currently it is at odds and the reason why is because you know these models, you know, require Lots of data to train and then, once you train the models, the models are huge, right, I mean, that's why they're called large language models rather than just language models. And so you know they can be Tens, tens of gigabytes, if not more than a hundred gigabytes in size, and so they they run on servers. So that you know and Siri ran like this at the beginning as well you know when Siri first came out, you would say a query and then it would send it to the cloud. You know server would process your query and then send back the task. The main issue with that was performance, but also privacy.

Later on, you know, as Apple got more deep into wanting to protect user privacy, so a couple years ago, apple started initiative to actually move a lot of the Siri functions to your device and you can figure, you can see what functions work on your device and are processed by the iPhone processor and, and like a very small language model on the iPhone right now, you know, if you set a calendar or ask for a timer, ask what time it is, it doesn't you can actually turn off. You know, turn on an airplane mode and you can still get responses. You couldn't before. But for these large language models right now there's so large that you really can't run them on a phone. You have to run them in the cloud.

Shortcuts is an example of this. Shortcuts Runs actually on the device. It doesn't use the server to trigger any actions. You know when you add different apps together and string together into different Tasks. But if they were to implement this in shortcuts, you know, I think the big challenge is like how would you do that and keep it on the device itself?

0:11:23 - Mikah Sargent
Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's, that's gonna be an interesting solution. Now We've seen many companies that have kind of popped up. They've built businesses out of integrating with open AI's GPT 3 and now GPT 4 and, you know, microsoft, instead of creating its own Large language model, decided to kind of tie its fate in with open AI. So when it comes to Apple and its you know experimentation and eventual product implementation with large language models, is the company Creating its own large language model? Is it using what's already available? Kind of where does it stand in terms of all that? Especially if at first it was a little bit going. I don't know if people are gonna want to do this and I don't know if we as a company want to do this.

0:12:10 - Wayne Ma
Yeah, I mean the company would never use someone else's language model, and that's because they want to control it.

They want to actually. Jg has been very public about how he feels like the data needs to be transparent. You know what is the data that you trained it on, and open AI and some of these other companies haven't really explained what the data was that they used. Part of that's proprietary for them. So Apple wants to train its own models and they have trained their own model. They have a very advanced model called a jacks. Gpt has been trained in the last year and People within Apple believe it exceeds the capabilities of GPT 3.5, which is the Model that powered the initial version of chat GPT when it was released in November. Since then, open AI has upgraded that to GPT 4, of course, and so, yeah, apple, apple has its own model. It's not clear if that mouse can be the one that's used for shortcuts and some of these other things. You know, individual teams Are siloed. Maybe they could train their own models as well, but at the end of the day, apple wants to do everything in-house and not rely on somebody else's work.

0:13:08 - Mikah Sargent
That makes sense and then, in kind of reading through your piece of information, in kind of reading through your piece, I did get the impression that we've got multiple teams within Apple working on these large language models, working on this idea of conversational AI, and so I know you know the the name Ajax GPT Is at the heart of at least one of those teams projects. Are they all using Ajax GPT? Are they all kind of experimenting in their own way with their own language learning models? How is your understanding of how it works internally right now With the different teams that are playing around in the space?

0:13:47 - Wayne Ma
Yeah, I mean I think Ajax GPT Is is basically the focus of this one team called foundational models, the foundational models team at Apple, and so the concept, at least theoretically, is that that team creates the advanced models and other teams use them. But at Apple it's not very clear. At Apple, we know different teams are siloed From each other. You know there's always competing products. Even the iPhone had, or the iPod had, two different versions of the iPhone, had two different versions. You know they were competing against each other internally, and so it's very likely that multiple teams are training their own models. You know different sizes and capabilities as well. But it's clear. But from what I understand, ajax GPT is the most advanced model within the company right now understood.

0:14:32 - Mikah Sargent
And then, lastly, kind of a Pullback sort of question your article suggests that we could see these, some of these features, at least in Apple's operating systems, as early as next year. But we do see other companies that have some of this feature or some of these features and functionality already built in. They've already Put that stuff out there, and so just I'm curious from your general understanding of everything, how does it compare, how does this approach compare, to the other companies that have implemented this technology? And is Apple doing its typical Sort of sit back and wait and try to do a better job in the space?

0:15:13 - Wayne Ma
Yeah, part of it is sit back and wait, but the main issue is that the entire culture and planning the software revolves around the release of the iPhone every year. So you know, if something doesn't make it into the, into the place for the next version of iOS, it has to be pushed entire year to the next version. You know they don't, they don't have like major updates usually during during the year. Right, I think comes in September with the new iPhone. So it's already too late to implement anything this year, especially given Apple's. You know strict, you know quality control standards and attention to detail and things like that. So the earliest you could see it would be.

In the next version of iOS in 2024,. You know, this year has kind of been ruled out. Yeah, makes sense. Well, wayne, ma, I want to thank you so much for taking some time.

0:15:58 - Mikah Sargent
Of course, everyone needs to head over to the information and read this piece. It's really in depth, well sourced and it's it's well worth your time. Of course, folks can head over to the information to check out your work, but is there anywhere else online that folks can stay up to date with what you're doing? No, that's about it. That's really on.

0:16:12 - Wayne Ma
Twitter, I guess you can. You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn. I guess that's where I post these articles, but if you want to read them, you have to subscribe. Awesome, what is your, your Twitter handle?

0:16:21 - Mikah Sargent
Oh, it's just my name, wayne Ma at just.

0:16:25 - Wayne Ma

0:16:30 - Mikah Sargent
All right. Well, thank you very much. We appreciate it and hope to see you again soon.

Yeah, thanks for having me on All right that was a great interview with Wayne Ma Over at the information and up. Next we are going to take a look at the latest in the EU's new digital market Act updated. The DMA has been around, but the the updates to it. Now We've we finally got some companies in the in the sights of the EU, so we'll talk about that in a moment, but I do want to take a quick break to tell you about our first sponsor today.

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Alright, so let's talk about the Digital Markets Act. This is the European Commission's Act that is aimed at kind of trying to make sure that companies that are big tech companies Don't have too much control over not only the end users, but also for the businesses who use these kind of big tech companies as part of the business that they do. Okay, so the Digital Markets Act is trying to make sure that everybody gets a fair chance. The EU itself says it is aimed at preventing gatekeepers from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and end users and that ensuring the openness of important digital services. Now here's what's new the EU has been tasked with trying to figure out who is kind of subject to this Digital Markets Act, who are the companies that they're calling gatekeepers, and there are three rules that need to kind of be met in order for a company to be considered a gatekeeper. The size of the company and the impact on the internal market is one of those factors. So if a company achieves an annual turnover of at or above 7.5 billion euros in each of the last three financial years, or where its average market cap is equal to at least 75 billion euros in the last financial year, then it is.

That is one one criteria met okay. Secondly, it needs to have control of what they call an important gateway for business users towards final consumers. So basically, if the company has a service that has more than 45 million monthly active users and, of course, is located in the EU and more than 10,000 yearly active business users in the EU in the last financial year, so they're looking at both just sort of end users like you or like me, and they're also looking at business users. So, for example, a publication that uses Facebook to put out their news articles would be a business user who is actively using the service. And then, last but not least, they have to meet this third criteria to be an entrenched, to be in an entrenched and durable position. So if the company has met the second criterion in each of the last three financial years, meaning that if it has operated with more than 45 million monthly active end users and 10,000 yearly active business users Over the last three financial years, that means that the company has been around long enough that it does so. So, with that in mind, that's a lot of money, right, that's many a smack-a-roo, and so that would kind of limit the number of companies. That's $8 billion in annual turnover and $80.5 billion I'm going to US dollars now just to kind of compare in market cap. So that does limit the companies that are included.

As of yesterday, the commission, who is tasked with determining what companies count as gatekeepers, have released those companies Alphabet, amazon and Alphabet, of course, is Google's parent company, amazon Apple, bytedance, which owns TikTok, metta, which is the Facebook and Instagram parent company, and Microsoft are the six quote unquote gatekeepers according to the Digital Markets Act Commission. So those six companies having the sites set on them and those six companies offer what are called core platform services, that all have now specific regulations and rules tied to them. So social networks, including TikTok, which, of course, is ByteDance, facebook, which is Metta, instagram, which is Metta, and LinkedIn, which is Microsoft, intermediation, like Google Maps, google Play, google Shopping, which is Alphabet, amazon Marketplace, which is Amazon, the App Store, which is Apple's App Store, and the Metta Marketplace, which, of course, is Facebook's Metta Marketplace. Ads from Google, amazon and Metta browsers, including Chrome and Safari, notably Chrome and Safari Chrome for Alphabet, safari for Apple.

What's not on there? Microsoft's Edge browser Operating systems, google Android, apple's iOS and, of course, windows from Microsoft. Search is just Google search. So once again, bing is not on there. Video sharing, youtube from Alphabet, and then messaging, whatsapp and Messenger, which are both Metta-owned properties, notably iMessage, not on that list. So there are a few that haven't made the list, and that is. There are multiple reasons why this is the case. The commission is still working to determine some of these other, these outliers, so to speak, so it's not necessarily the case that we won't eventually see iMessage make it, that we won't eventually see Microsoft make it, and in fact Microsoft is currently under investigation with the rest of what's left off of that list.

But if you're kind of curious, what happens next? Well, gatekeepers, the six companies I mentioned before, the six companies I mentioned before have six months to comply with the full set of obligations that the Digital Markets Act has put forth, and then they're also going to give a compliance report, or, excuse me, each of the six companies have to provide a compliance report showing how they have figured out the solutions. This is what they're doing to follow the Digital Markets Act. That needs to happen by March of 2024. For these six companies that have now been labeled as Gatekeepers, however, there are two obligations that start from the first day that a company has been designated as a Gatekeeper. The Gatekeepers are obligated to put in place a compliance function and are obligated to report unintended concentrations. So this means that they basically have to say we recognize the compliance needs to happen and we are reporting on what we plan to do to make this happen. The Commission, of course, is going to continue to monitor the implementation. And if they don't implement the new fixes and they don't hold to these obligations.

Then come the fines, and these fines are not small fines. I'll quote again from the Digital Markets Act. In case a Gatekeeper does not comply with the obligations laid out in the DMA, the Commission can impose fines up to 10% of the company's total worldwide turnover so 10% of the money turn at the turnover and it can go up to 20% if the company continues to infringe on these regulations and obligations. This can go as far as to sort of empower even more remedies, like telling a Gatekeeper that they have to sell parts of their business off if they want to operate in the EU, or completely banning one of these Gatekeepers from acquiring any other companies and adding additional services to the business. So very steep fines, very steep remedies, as they're called, in order to do this.

Now, what this means in terms of what the DMA is going to have to do kind of boils down to some things we've heard of quite often. One is that companies will need to make it, or Gatekeepers will need to make, it easy for you to uninstall pre-installed applications. And if you can't simply uninstall those pre-installed applications, the option to just not have them installed in the first place needs to be one of the implementations. Essentially, the idea here is that you have to be able to be provided the choice for what applications you want to use. Gatekeepers also will have to make sure and this is on the business side that business users get access to all of the performance data whenever they're running ads and that developers are able to use alternative in-app payment systems. So we've heard a lot about in-app payment systems being at the center of the problem with Apple's App Store. Right, these companies are going to need to make sure that a developer can choose to use a different payment system from the one that's built in.

And then interoperability options for messenger systems, and that is where we go back to that core platform service. Seeing iMessage not on the list right now. This has been kind of an ongoing thing in the United States, where Android users and iOS users don't have the same messaging system that Apple's. Ios and iPadOS and MacOS all use iMessage as the system, and you can communicate with other iMessage users in data packages that are different from how you do an SMS or an MMS, and so it would be interesting to see, when the when the EU makes this choice to include iMessage potentially on the list, how that is going to impact the interoperability of iMessage going forward.

Now all of these companies have said, hey, we hear the EU, we're looking into it, we're going to see what's going on. Microsoft seems to be the most kind of. Their response, according to the Verge, has basically been hey, cool, we hear this and we are not only accepting this designation as a gatekeeper, but we also look forward to you investigating if our search engine, being our browser edge, and our advertising services all need to be listed as part of this. You know this, this compliance with the European Commission. Google has Google, and Apple and Meta as well, I guess have all kind of said hey, we are working with the EU to do what we can to make sure that this all flies according to the regulations, and we also are hoping that we can continue to offer great services, even if this is going to cause us headaches. So it's a little bit of a veiled way of saying we're going to do what we can to follow the letter of the law. It will be compliant, but we don't want to have to, like dive head first into these new regulations.

And then what I found fascinating according to the Verge, bytedance has had a response that was a little bit more upset, we'll say. According to the Verge, tiktok has said that they quote fundamentally disagree with the decision. Quote TikTok has brought choice to a space largely controlled by incumbents, and this decision risks undermining the DMA's stated goal of the by protecting actual gatekeepers from newer competitors like TikTok. We're extremely disappointed that no market investigation was conducted prior to this decision and are evaluating our next steps. So TikTok's ByteDance is displeased, to say the least, with this, and we will see how this goes forward.

So I'll quickly read through, or not read through, but summarize some of the obligations that gatekeepers will need to follow through with, and then we'll kind of leave it there. So end users will need to be able to uninstall pre-installed apps we talked about that before but also change default settings on their operating systems, so be able to choose their own browser virtual assistants the same thing, if I don't want to have Siri or Samsung's I don't even know what it's called these days To be able to change that. And so that way each individual will have the choice for what they want to to use as their virtual assistant or their operating systems defaults. End users will need to be able to install third party apps or use third party app stores instead of just the first party app store. End users will need to unsubscribe from core platform services as easily as they subscribe to them. So if, for example, you sign up for I don't know Google's storage solution and it's as simple as whenever you're setting up your phone, you just say yes and you log in then it should be just as easy to say no afterwards.

Gatekeepers will need to allow third parties to interoperate with the gatekeepers own services. So again, we talked about that with like iMessage and others although iMessage is not currently listed, so it's better to say WhatsApp Provide the companies advertising on their platform with access to all of those tools. We talked about that early on. Allow business users to promote their offers and conclude contracts with their customers outside of the gatekeepers platform, so not requiring that they use their own, the gatekeepers own system as part of their means of getting in touch with their end users. So with Apple's app store, if you want to reach out to your customers and you have your customers reach out to you, it's all sort of facilitated through Apple, and to have a third party way of doing that is, or a third party option for doing that is what they're saying there. Provide business users with access to the data generated by their activities on the gatekeepers platform, so basically getting more access to the information.

A ban on using the data of business users when gatekeepers compete with them on their own platform. So Amazon is a good example here, or Google, I mean anything that offers. If I am a third party and developer and I'm making a calculator app, then Apple shouldn't be able to use the information of my users using my calculator app to improve upon their own calculator app. A ban on ranking the gatekeepers own products or services in a more favorable manner. So when I am doing a search in the app store for calculator app, if Apple's calculator pops up ahead of mine and it isn't a sort of natural revelation of Apple's own app, but maybe it shows up with a blue edge around it, so you know to tap on it.

A ban on requiring app developers to use certain of the gatekeepers services so again, this is payment systems, identity providers in order to appear in app stores of the gatekeeper. So this was very simply the way that some app stores require you to use their in-app purchase systems, their specific services, and then a ban on tracking end users outside of the gatekeepers core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising without effective consent having been granted by the end user. So unless you're saying yes, you can track me when I'm not using your core services, then you are not allowed to do so. So they have some time March of 2020, excuse me, march of 2024 to be able to get this in place, but then those steep fines will start coming. The EU has said we're aware that there are going to be some challenges brought against this. They've already got that kind of prepared for as they look to see how these gatekeepers that have now been named will respond. There's a great Q&A that we'll link to as well in the show notes from the EU itself, and it's kind of or not Q&A, rather but FAQ that goes in detail about the latest for the DMA. So be sure to check that out if you want to learn more about where things stand with the Digital Markets Act in the European Union. All right up next, we are going to get a preview of Apple's upcoming September event. It's just around the corner.

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0:39:36 - Dan Moren
Good to be here, Micah. That's always a pleasure to talk to you.

0:39:39 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, it's always a pleasure to talk to you too, so let's kick things off with what we can almost certainly expect to have announced at Apple's September event. The September event seems to happen every year, and at every event, apple announces blank. This is for you to fill it in.

0:40:03 - Dan Moren
Well, I like a good mad lib. That's a lot of fun. Every September event well, pretty much you know asterisk almost every there's a new iPhone, so expect a new iPhone. It's that time of year. It's the time of year where you have to decide if you want to upgrade your iPhone to see what the new hotness is this year. Of course, the iPhone 15, assuming that they continue their traditional numbering pattern. We're not expecting any change to that, but the iPhone 15 and a 15 pro are the most likely things to see at this event. What they will bring. There are still some questions about that, but there are a lot of rumors as well. You want to start with that, or you want to talk about the full like other things that we can expect to see, because there's a lot of places to go here.

0:40:48 - Mikah Sargent
There are a lot of places to go. Oh, the places you'll go, and in fact, that is. That is a good place to start, though let's let's start with iPhone 15. We've got the iPhone 14 right now, and it comes in iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 pro variations with multiple sizes. Are we looking at the same thing this year, where you've got the pro and the non pro, and then you've got two different sizes in each category? And then, if that's the case, what are the changes that that we can look forward to this year? Why would someone maybe make that upgrade?

0:41:27 - Dan Moren
Yeah, so Apple has in the last few years worked on a very a sort of a two year strategy with its models, in the sense of the different assortment available. So for a couple of years we had, you know, the iPhone 15, a smaller like version of that, or iPhone, the standard iPhone, the iPhone pro, a larger version of that, and then last year they swapped the mini phone for the plus phone. So there was the iPhone 14, the 14 plus and then the 14 pro and the 14 pro max Super fun and confusing. This year we're expecting that to operate on pretty much the same thing, since they seem to give it at least a couple of years to see how that model lineup sort of shakes out. So expect your 15 and your 15 plus to have so the same sizes as last year, along with the pro lineup that has the same sort of corresponding sizes in the 15 pro and the 15 pro max. As far as what you can expect this year, the big change that everybody's talking about is that after more than a decade, apple will swap out the lightning port that it's been using for charging, data transfer, audio connections, that kind of thing, in favor of a USB C port. Obviously that's going to cause a shake up for some people in terms of replacing cables and accessories, but since a lot of people do have USB C cables around, they're more of a standard. There is the advantage that maybe you already have these cables handy. Besides that, it seems like the dynamic island from the 14 pro line last year is going to make its way down to the standard iPhone as well.

There's a couple of other little changes along the way. The 15 pro and pro max are expected to use titanium instead of steel for that outer ring. This has the biggest benefit of being lighter. Titanium is much lighter than steel, so that could make those phones lighter than they have previously been. Then on the higher end pro models, we're also expecting to see a new chip architecture using Apple's most recent three nanometer process. It'll probably be dubbed the A17, whereas the standard iPhone 15 models will get the A16 chip, which was in the pro last year. So Apple's now started to do this thing where they trickle down their highest end processors from year to year rather than all of them having the same processor. And then the other question that's still floating around there is there are rumors that the pro models will get a price increase as well, around $100. Unclear whether or not that's true, but that's sort of possibly in the offing.

0:43:50 - Mikah Sargent
Interesting a price increase. Now, this always leaves me wondering from your understanding, from your experience, are people aware of that price increase? Or, as far as you've seen and experienced, is it the case that people are not buying these phones outright but are doing it through some sort of carrier plan or maybe even Apple's own iPhone upgrade plan? How much of an impact do you think a price hike is going to have on people's purchases of the latest phones?

0:44:30 - Dan Moren
Well, since the price hike seems to be and again, this is based on speculation, we don't know this for sure yet but since it seems to be targeted at the pro phone, which are already the most expensive phones in the lineup, I don't think it will have as much of an impact, for a couple of different reasons. One, as you allude, a lot of people use installment plans or upgrade programs, so they will still see an increase, but if it's more on the order of five or $6 a month, they may not feel like that hits their wallet as much. Second, by targeting the highest end phones, apple is making it to the point where it's sort of guessing that the people who are buying these phones are already pretty financially comfortable because they're buying these expensive phones. They're buying the pro phones, right, they're not buying the vanilla sort of iPhone 15.

And I think it's taking the gamble that people at that level aren't going to care about an extra $100. Even if they do, it's like well, there are cheaper phones available If you're buying something because you want that pro phone and you want the phone that's the best phone that's out there. I think they're sort of taking the approach of thinking like well, you'll pay an extra $100 to have that, if that's what's important to you, and I'm not sure they're wrong about that. I think the pro phones have done very well for Apple and their overall mix of the phone lineup. So people will be aware of it and I expect, as always, there's probably going to be some grumbling. But I kind of expected not to have a real impact on the sales of the phone.

0:45:48 - Mikah Sargent
Now, when Apple changed a charging port in years past, there was a lot of that grumbling. But this time around, a charging port change would shift the charger, the charging port and the necessary cables into a place that would, I think, in many cases make it so that people have more cables than they have had before, because a lot of other gadgets and gizmos have gone USBC or have been USBC for a long time. So I'm curious in your crystal ball predictions, are we going to see a lot of grumbling about a potential change to USBC and, of course, part of the reason for Apple potentially making this change again? This whole segment is a speculation segment, but part of this is because of requirements overseas for Apple to Apple, like every tech company, to provide USBC charging, as that is now the blessed port. But Apple doesn't operate from a position of weakness and so they are all about selling the change. So what do you think it's going to look like and sound like if Apple announces a USBC port on the iPhone?

0:47:25 - Dan Moren
Yeah, so you're totally right. Apple is going to talk about how great this is right we saw them with the iPhone 7, remove the headphone jack and sell it as the most courageous decision anybody's made in the history of smartphones. I fully expect something along those lines again, and I'm sure they will downplay any impact that regulation had on this. And the truth is, I'm sure the regulation played a part, but I don't think it was the only thing. I went back and was watching the introduction of the Lightning port back in 2012. And one of the things that Phil Schiller, who at the time introduced it, mentioned was that this was a modern port for the next decade, and it's been more than a decade, so it's not exactly surprising. I mean, we've talked about grumbling when they've changed the charging port before, but it's worth remembering they've only really done it once so far. I mean, they went from a 30 pin dock connector, which debuted on an iPod back in 2003, to the Lightning cable, and that lasted, I think, nine years. The Lightning cable has been around even longer than that. So, yes, people are going to grumble because they're going to have to change some cables.

The blow is a little softer this time for a couple of reasons. One, as you mentioned, a lot of people have USB-C cables from other devices they own, because this transition has been in place across the industry over the last several years. Two, I think, fundamentally, people connect physically connect their iPhone for fewer things. When the dock connector port changed to the Lightning port more than a decade ago, people had speaker docks and accessories and things that plugged into their iPhones and their iPods, and in some cases, they'd had those things going back to like an older iPod and so they could just slot their phone in and it would be super convenient.

These days, I think, that's less the case, moreover, because we have different technologies for connecting to a lot of those things Bluetooth, wi-fi, airplay. All these things have made life easier to the point where you don't really have to plug your phone into anything except basically to charge. And even in the case of Apple, they've also embraced the Qi wireless charging standard and, of course, have rolled out their own MagSafe charging standard, and so those things if you invested in MagSafe cables, like a year ago or two years ago when you bought your iPhone, or a Qi charger that sits by your bedside, those things will still work with the next phone. So I think there will be an outcry, but I don't think it's going to reach the sort of pop culture zeitgeist that it did a decade ago when 30-pin Doctenium connector changed the lightning.

0:49:43 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, that's well put. So, outside of the iPhone and new titanium and faster processor and all of that jazz, do you like jazz? I'm curious if there's anything else we can expect or should expect at Apple's September event. This time around, are we getting any one more things? Are we getting new Apple watches? What else is rumored to be at this next event?

0:50:14 - Dan Moren
Yeah, so there are some rumors about other devices. I think the watch series is the most likely thing to get a revision. The watch often goes hand in hand with the iPhone because obviously it's kind of positioned as an iPhone accessory. There are a lot of questions about what an Apple Watch Series 9 might look like. We aren't expecting any major new health sensors or anything like that, which isn't to say they couldn't happen, but there hasn't been a lot of talk about it. The biggest sort of room around that is a new version of the S-Series chip that powers the Apple Watch, which would be based probably on the A15 line, which would offer better performance, possibly better battery life. There may be some conversations about new colors available for the watch as well, but beyond that, we don't really know a lot about what is going to be offered there. Then, of course, the other question mark is the Apple Watch Ultra. That was introduced last year and it's been a really big hit, as far as we can tell.

There are some questions about will we see a Apple Watch Ultra II? Will we perhaps just see a new color option? Black titanium has been thrown out there as something that we could see. We may just see some other sort of refresh cosmetically that doesn't actually change the innards of the watch. There's also some talk of new manufacturing processes using 3D printing instead of using the traditional sort of CNC-milled cases that they've used before. Other than that, there's a lot of stuff about accessories out there whether there will be a USB-C AirPods case to replace the current case, whether there'll be new iPhone cases in Apple Watch bands, those sorts of accessory stories. Nothing that has really been out there that makes us think, oh, there's going to be a surprise new product, Right? I don't think that's likely to happen this time around.

0:51:59 - Mikah Sargent
Yeah, that's my expectation as well. Now, one thing that sometimes happens at September events is, with the introduction of new hardware, we will see something that will suddenly be activated in the operating system. For example, in years past we saw the dynamic island that we had been testing iOS all the way leading up to the September event and did not know that this dynamic island was coming. Suddenly, this in-software mix with hardware feature was revealed. Are there any rumors about anything like that, that the hardware will take advantage of the software in a way that we had not expected, or has all of that been pretty clear up to this point?

0:52:58 - Dan Moren
Yeah, I mean Apple does like to keep a surprise or two up its sleeve. It would not surprise me at all to hear that there was something that the hardware unlocked in terms of the capabilities in the latest version of iOS that will be available. We have heard, of course, that there is a possibility for a new camera on the iPhone Pro line, possibly only on the Pro Max. That could open the door to some new camera modes or camera options that would only be available to that new hardware. But beyond that, if there's something in there that Apple's holding back, they've done a good job of keeping it under wraps for the moment. So, yeah, we don't really know of any software features coming, but yeah, I wouldn't be surprised to see something make that appearance there.

0:53:44 - Mikah Sargent
All right. Last, I will just ask anything that you are looking forward to seeing at this event, or are you just you're fully aware of what's going to happen and therefore are not expecting any surprises or anything that's going to be of particular interest?

0:54:05 - Dan Moren
I always like a good surprise. There's nothing out there right now. I would certainly love to see a little bit more about the Vision Pro, which they talked about back at WWDC. I don't really expect to, because they give it a lot of time at WWDC and it seems like we're still a ways out from it shipping. So I don't think they're going to basically do much other than maybe say, oh, we showed this off.

Personally, I'm in the market to replace my Apple TV and I might hope that maybe there's an announcement in that vein, possibly even just some cheaper prices, because those are still pretty expensive, but I have no real expectation of that either. The one wild card I would like to see, as long as we're making this USB-C transition, is a replacement for some of the company's Mac accessories, like the Magic Keyboard and the Magic Trackpad that rely on Lightning Cables and replace those with USB-C. But I think it's far more likely those will appear later in the fall as part of some sort of Mac event. So, yeah, not a lot here that I'm really waiting for, but I'm excited to see if there's anything that hasn't leaked to make it out there.

0:55:10 - Mikah Sargent
Oh man, that's a good one. I would love to see that too, as I stare down at this pesky port on my keyboard. I'm with you.

0:55:20 - Dan Moren
Yeah, no, I hate anything to replace those Lightning Cables. I want to go all USB-C as soon as possible. That would be awesome.

0:55:27 - Mikah Sargent
Well, dan Moore, and I want to thank you so much for your time today. Of course, folks can head over to 6colorscom to check out your work there, but is there anywhere else they should go to follow along with what you're doing online?

0:55:39 - Dan Moren
Sure, you can find all of my stuff, including my novels and my other writing, at dmorencom. I'm on Mastodon at Zeppelin Flightslash at dmoren. And of course, you can find me every week over at Relay FM on Wednesdays for the Clockwise podcast with my good host, a fellow named Micah Sargent.

0:55:59 - Mikah Sargent
Oh. I know him All right, thank you, Thank you. Dan.

0:56:03 - Dan Moren
Thanks, see you later.

0:56:05 - Mikah Sargent
Bye-bye, all righty up. Next, I've got another story of the week for you, and it's a little squishy, a little moldy and a little wet, so we'll get to that in a moment, but I do want to take. I don't know what all of you are thinking, but I can't wait to tell you what the story is about. But I do want to take a quick break to tell you about our next sponsor of Tech News Weekly. It's Brooklynnet Fall. It's finally here, thank goodness, and now is the perfect time to upgrade your bedding collection with cozy season home essentials from Brooklyn. And yes, it's cozy season, it's cuff and season. It's time to cuddle up, and you can do so with Brooklyn, and I have I've talked about it plenty my Brooklyn.

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It is time for my final story of the week. This time, as I as I promised, it's about something squishy, moldy and wet. It's rotten tomatoes. So I wanted to talk about this because I have to be honest. I am a person who says I don't use reviews to determine what I watch, but because rotten tomatoes is everywhere, I do use a rotten tomatoes review rating as a means of determining if it's something that I'm going to watch. I'm admitting that to myself right now, as much as I'm admitting it to all of you, it's partially because it's so prolific that I can look, you know, if I'm browsing through media content and I see a percentage, I almost certainly know it's it's really regarding rotten tomatoes, that that is the rotten tomatoes rating. And what I didn't know was the scoring system, the scoring method, the whole kit and caboodle of how rotten tomatoes works.

Many of you probably did know this or do know this, but rotten tomatoes, the rating, is a grouping of scores. Okay, so many sites out in the world will review a movie or a title I guess would be the best way to put it and with those reviews, rotten tomatoes will combine them together and provide a rating based on those reviews. Now, according to a Vulture article, this is what the story of the week is about. The scores classify each review as either positive or negative, and then they take the number of positive reviews and divide that number by the total and then the percentage they're left with. That's the percentage that the movie gets. So it doesn't matter if the review is coming from a blog that you know 50 people visit or if it's coming from a reputable critic who's had years in the business of doing movie reviews. If it's a positive review or a negative review, those are factored in the positive reviews more than divided by the total number of reviews, and that's where the percentage comes from.

So that's something to understand, first and foremost, that it's not necessarily entirely reputable reviewers who are providing part of the rating for the film. And, secondarily, something else that's important to understand is that it's either good or it's bad. It's a gray area. So one director talked about how you know, occasionally you'd have a review where someone says look, this movie was not a movie that I enjoyed, but the parts that I didn't enjoy. I was very impressed with how the director of the film pulled off this movie that I didn't enjoy. Right, and overall, that is, you know, could be considered an applause to the director saying that, look, you pulled it off. You just didn't pull it off for me, and so if that is the review, that is going to be considered a negative review by Rotten Tomatoes, whereas it might not be a negative review if it were something that you read and that's where Rotten Tomatoes actually came along in the first place.

People went from reading individual reviews to wanting to just have a quick way to know if a movie was quote, unquote certified fresh or not. So they decided to do this sort of grouping of all of the reviews that were out there, or many of the reviews that were out there, and give people a quick way to know. Here's what the critics are thinking about this film or not thinking about this film. What I didn't know also according to this vulture piece is that Rotten Tomatoes is owned by two companies that make movies and then also owned by a company that sells tickets to movies. So Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Warner Bros. It's also Warner Brothers, it's also owned by Fandango, and Fandango Its parent company is Universal Pictures. So Warner Bros and Universal Pictures and Fandango all own Rotten Tomatoes, which I don't love, you see it this way, but sort of feels like a conflict of interest. If you ask me, that alone is something to kind of keep in mind, to bear in mind.

But this vulture piece kind of talks about how important to the movie industry Rotten Tomatoes is, but how easily gamified or not to gamified a hacked Rotten Tomatoes can be. The piece starts out talking about a publicity company that is occasionally hired to help get a better score for films, and so a film had a score that was less than 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and they worked to raise that score so that more people would see it and in the piece, that kind of talk over time about how excuse me, how the way that films are rated, when they're rated how they're rated, has an impact on the or has a potential impact on the box office for that film. So one example was a film that ended up getting very few reviews. It was a title from 2022 and it was screened at a festival and when it was screened at the festival, it got some reviews. It ended up with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and the publicist was like hey, look, that isn't. There aren't many reviews Even though you have 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. We should get some more reviews out there. The movie studio said no, no, no, we don't want to ruin our perfect 100%, so let's not screen it to anymore before we release it for it to go to the box office. So they kept it at 100%. That film ended up winning an Oscar. Now, did it win an Oscar because it had 100% review on Rotten Tomatoes? Did it win an Oscar because it had so many people going to see it? Did it win an Oscar because it was worth 100% of Rotten Tomatoes?

You don't know, I love, too that in this vulture piece they do cite some studies that have looked at how a Rotten Tomatoes score actually impacts box office numbers. Up to this point it looks like it doesn't have too much of an impact, but it also started to show that maybe that was changing, that that Rotten Tomatoes was starting to have an impact. But the organization that did the study pointed to the fact that that may have been because of the pandemic and how that could have shifted people's behaviors, and so they didn't want to conclude that it did have that much of an impact without factoring in more data over time. So they're kind of continuing to review this, but I don't know ultimately for me what this did was. It opened my eyes a little bit to a you always got to follow the money right, and that's important in research. That's important in so much I didn't know that Rotten Tomatoes was owned by two movie distributors and a ticket sales company.

That has its own implications. There's been, over time, a shift from let me just point actually do a direct quote from the Vulture piece. According to a study by Global News in 2016, the average now some people say Tomatometer, some people say Tomato Meter the average Tomato Meter score for all wide releases was in the Rotten Low 50s, but by 2021, that average had climbed to a fresh 60%. So in the before times, when Rotten Tomatoes was more independent, to now in 2021, more films are appearing as fresh and that is something to keep in mind. So we follow the money, we keep that in mind and then we follow the. I guess it's just more money, frankly, that this system can be gained with proper timing, with proper choices on who the film is sent to.

And I don't want to give away the whole piece because that doesn't lead value. Back to the Vulture article. But let's just say, in talking about the movie publicity company, they talk about some of the behaviors of the folks who work at the movie publicity company, who reach out to journalists and maybe try to get positive reviews. So it's definitely worth reading to learn a little bit more about that. But just in general, this for me was kind of a oh you know, maybe, maybe I should pay more attention to individual reviews as opposed to this sort of average review rating that Rotten Tomatoes provides, and not necessarily use that as a means of determining if I'm going to like a film or series, that is, that is published online. So, yeah, go read the Vulture piece about the decomposition of Rotten Tomatoes, as it's entitled. What a great title. It is quite good and great work from Lane Brown over at Vulture Folks. That is going to bring us to the end of this very episode of Tech News Weekly.

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If you're a club member, you can watch Hands on Mac, which we'll publish here pretty soon. Or you can watch on Sundays, ask the Tech Guys, the show that I co-host with Leo Laporte, where we take your questions online and do our best to answer them. We take your questions live on air and do our best to answer them. And Tuesdays, you can watch iOS today with Rose Murray Orchard and yours truly, where we cover all things iOS, tvos, watchos, et cetera. Huge thanks, as always, to our producer, our technical director and our editor, john Ashley, to Burke, who is our engineering member, who makes sure that we are good to go with our guests, that they sound great. To John Slanina in the studio as well, who leads off the studio engineering. We appreciate it. And, of course, we appreciate all of you out there who not only tune in each week or have subscribed, but also who I know are telling their friends and family members about this very show. Thank you so much. We will see you next week for another episode of Tech News Weekly. Bye-bye.

1:13:58 - Rod Pyle
Hey, I'm Rod Pyle, editor-in-chief of Ad Astra Magazine, and each week I joined with my co-host to bring you, this week in space, the latest and greatest news from the final frontier. We talked to NASA, chief space scientists, engineers, educators and artists and sometimes we just shoot the breeze over what's hot and what's not in space books and TV. And we do it all for you, our fellow true believers. So, whether you're an armchair adventurer or waiting for your turn to grab a slot in Elon's Mars rocket, join us on this week in space to be part of the greatest adventure of all time.

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