Tech News Weekly Episode 304 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.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:00:00):
Coming up next on Tech News Weekly, it's me, Jason Howell, and I start the show off talking with my good pal, Florence Ion from Gizmoto. She hits the new Apple iPhone 15 Pro against Google's pixel lineup. Ooh, I am Micah Sergeant and I invite on Hugh Langley of Business Insider to talk about the updates coming to Google Bard. Now it can take a look at your Gmail and maybe tell you when your flight is. I certainly hope so. Sam Kovich joins. [00:00:30] It's been a long time since he was on last, since the perfect opportunity because Microsoft had an intense leak of Xbox information. Sam breaks it all down in detail and then I round things out with my story of the week about everything or most everything that Amazon announced at its A L E X A event. It's all that coming up on Tech News Weekly podcasts you love from people you trust. This [00:01:00] is Tweet.
This is Tech News Weekly episode 304, recorded Thursday, September 21st, 2023, iPhone 15 Pro versus Google Pixel. This episode of Tech News Weekly is brought to you by Zocdoc, the free app where you can find and book appointments online with thousands of top rated patient reviewed physicians and specialists filter specifically for ones who take your insurance are located near you and treat almost any condition. [00:01:30] Go to zocdoc.com/tnw and download the zocdoc app for free and by discourse, the online home for your community discourse makes it easy to have meaningful conversations and collaborate anytime anywhere. Visit discourse.org/twit to get one month free on all self-serve plans and buy Melissa more than 10,000 clients worldwide. Rely on Melissa for full spectrum data quality and ID verification software. Make sure [00:02:00] your customer contact data is up to date. Get started today with 1000 records cleaned for free at melissa.com/twit.
Hello and welcome to Tech News Weekly, the show where every week we talk to and about the people making and breaking the tech news. I am one of your hosts. Micah, Sergeant. I'm the other guy. Jason Howell. Good to see you, Micah. Good to see you. Jason, although I'm looking at you through the smoke that is apparently in the air. Yeah, the air quality is not good. [00:02:30] I don't know what it's even attributed to. It's not like there's, I just saw something this morning about wildfires, so I don't know, man. A couple of years ago we were so on top of it when this happened and now we're like, it's just climate change. There's so much to think about every year. Yes, so much to pay attention to, oh man, I can't think of smoke around all this AI that's happening everywhere. Also, all of these Apple devices that are apparently happening everywhere. That's my attempt to segue into our first interview. [00:03:00] Apple brought the noise and raised the roof with its latest Pro iPhone. The iPhone 15 Pro good friend and former co-host from all about Android. Florence Ion joins us to share her take from her Gizmoto piece and Flo, first of all, it's so great to see you. Hi, Flo. Thank you.
Flo Ion (00:03:22):
It's so great to see you guys.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:03:24):
It's nice to know that you're behind us staring at our screens. Yes, reading our laptops. [00:03:30] Yeah, don't look at that. That's my script for the interview. This has all the cheats on it, the answers to it. I really appreciated your article because it wasn't just like, Hey, this is the new iPhone 15 Pro. It was looking at the iPhone 15 Pro, and yes, it is a review, but it's also kind of a comparison point against what competitors have going in the Android space. Namely, I'd say primarily Google and its latest [00:04:00] smartphone, at least for the moment. Anyways, the Pixel seven Pro, we've got the eight and the eight pro coming in a matter of a couple of weeks. Are you going to be following or covering that live event when it
Flo Ion (00:04:11):
Happens? I'm going to be in New York City for the Made by Google event, so I will be there to, I'll probably bring the iPhone 15 Pro Max with me to do that initial comparison. I'm really looking forward to getting those two devices head to head [00:04:30] and I didn't spend as much time on the Pixel seven Pro. I didn't spend as much time retesting it because I've had this year with these devices and so whatever, what was going on with the 15 Pro, I am really feeling it and really it comes down to the minute you pick up an iPhone. It feels like a more premium experience than what the pixels have been the last couple of generations, which is frustrating. I just [00:05:00] want to quickly throw a kudos though. Not that companies need my kudos, but
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:05:05):
They're thirsty for your kudos flow.
Flo Ion (00:05:08):
Right. Samsung. Honestly, when you look at the comparison of specs, like if you're just doing spec by spec, Samsung is the one that's more closely aligned with what the iPhone is doing and it's pro lineup. I mean, even now into that Periscope camera system, that was something that debuted on the SS 23 Ultra this year, and so that's why I was very excited to try [00:05:30] it in the 15 Pro Max.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:05:32):
Indeed. So here's the first question that I have for you, and you just kind of set it up a few seconds ago. From the moment you pick up the new iPhone, it feels like a different experience. It feels like there's something tangible about that experience that feels more premium or if you had to put your finger on it, what is that difference? What is it coming from Android land picking up the iPhone? Because I mean, there [00:06:00] are a lot of really well-designed Android phones, but yet I think this is an opinion that a lot of people have when they pick up an iPhone. It just feels different. Yes.
Flo Ion (00:06:11):
Samsung's devices are actually very well-designed kind of along the lines. I didn't mean to mention Samsung so much today, but I've just been thinking a lot about it. Just the trajectory of the phones, so the iPhone 15 Pro in particular, that new titanium casing is really, [00:06:30] it's really in its favor because it makes it seem lighter. It's only an ounce lighter, but I like to go hiking. We live here in California with these beautiful hills when it's not smoky, and I usually bring a small pack with me and a big thing of water, and so the small pack, I would notice when I would pack the 14 pro that it would max, it would add this bit of heft that I wasn't getting from any pixel device that I had on me, but the trade off of that is that the pixels, [00:07:00] they feel hollow when you pick them up, which just immediately, there's just something about the hollow feel that's like, it just doesn't feel completed.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:07:10):
I don't like hollow. Yeah. If I pick up a phone and I feel that hollow quality's immediately, if
Flo Ion (00:07:15):
You can knock on me and it makes an echo, there's too much open space on the inside, which makes me think, what is this in shock resistance? What's rattling around in there and not to mention,
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:07:28):
Yeah, squirrels reject nuts [00:07:30] that do that, not that one. That's true. Apple must employ a ton of squirrels, their design department. Okay. This phone gets, Nope, that one's,
Flo Ion (00:07:41):
I was going to say Cupertino used to be all what orchards, so it makes sense. True.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:07:46):
Totally. It checks out around there. And actually what you're saying reminds me of some other news that happened this week. The, what is it? The opening of the Pixel tablet and of course Ron Amadio and Aris Technica being very finger [00:08:00] wagging at the fact that when you take a look on the inside of that pixel device, and I'm curious to know how that compares with other of Google's devices. There's a lot of open space and it's not as tightly packed, and we know that Apple is so top of the heap when it comes to how they design these devices, how they position every element to provide the best balance to fill the space with the components, the meaningful components that matter, so that's probably what you're feeling.
Flo Ion (00:08:30):
[00:08:30] I've spent a long time trying not to touch this ecosystem, but the more I live in it, even half the time, the more I learn about so much that we could be doing better on the Android side of things. I think the other thing is just the way that they contoured the edges. I know it's sounds very marketing fluff. Is it Chamford from Keynote, from everything we've read? I think
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:08:54):
It's this time it's not, but it's a fun word to say. They're more rounded this time around. Yeah.
Flo Ion (00:09:00):
[00:09:00] I mean, yeah, they're more rounded and guess it's like guess a slight guess what? They feel more comfortable to hold in the hand because the last couple iPhones had this very sharp edge about it, which made them feel almost inhospitable. I want to say. When you have a phone that's like that, it's like driving a car with those big spikes coming out of the wheels. It's rude. The new iPhones are less rude.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:09:28):
That's the tagline. The new iPhone [00:09:30] less rude than ever. Love it. What about the action button? What do you think of the action button? Yes,
Flo Ion (00:09:38):
The action button.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:09:39):
Actually, that was a feature that my initial knee jerk reaction was, oh, we've had those on Android before. But then when I really thought about it, I was like, well, actually, I don't know that we have had an action button that you can completely program or have we, I was trying to think about
Flo Ion (00:09:52):
It. Do you remember the tapping on the back finger? Well, there is
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:09:55):
Fingerprint. Yes, I remember that. That's clever.
Flo Ion (00:09:57):
Used to have.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:09:59):
Yes, [00:10:00] I did recall that. I guess I was thinking the literal button that you press that does the thing, but yeah, we had that and you could program that ish. You could give it a number of different options,
Flo Ion (00:10:10):
And there were Android phones with a ruggedness to them. They were very much like a contractor's phone, so you could make the action button, call a person that you need to talk to,
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:10:21):
Call Dale or
Flo Ion (00:10:22):
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:10:22):
Information you get over here Stat. Yeah,
Flo Ion (00:10:24):
Yeah, exactly. This is the action button. By default. It's just a mute button, which [00:10:30] is great because as I said in my review, I get my nails done every two weeks, and it's just easier to press a button than it is to try and flip a little switch, especially when you have long claws. I was very appreciative of that. I also liked the idea of, okay, well, I'm going car camping. I need my flashlight to go to the outhouse at night article. Just the action button is so much easier than trying to go in shuffling through menus [00:11:00] to Toronto flashlight, so it's a convenience thing. I imagine they would bring it to the regular iPhone series in the next couple of versions, and they're just kind of trying it out. What the pro series is now, it's like a preview of what you're going to get,
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:11:16):
Right? Yeah. The dynamic island now on more phones, not just the pros. So yeah, it seems to be, I
Flo Ion (00:11:21):
Like the dynamic island. Do you
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:11:23):
Live on the island a lot?
Flo Ion (00:11:26):
It's good for checking in on stuff without it taking up the whole [00:11:30] On Android. We'll get a notification. It'll take up kind of the top third of the screen, and the dynamic island is a little less invasive in that way because it just kind of stretches out along the side where you're already not interacting with much of the interface. So these are all thoughtful things and gorgeous
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:11:51):
Photos. By the way, I just want to get props for the I love the shots. Thank
Flo Ion (00:11:55):
You. Thank you. Am iterating [00:12:00] every time I figure out how to use this room as a studio. But yeah, there's just a lot of thoughtful things about the Apple ecosystem that I think it feels very frustrating as a longtime Android user because it's making it less easy for me to be like, well, I'm going to stay on Android.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:12:21):
Well, maybe the flip side of that is use the phone that works for you. You know what I mean? We dig our heels into these things for some [00:12:30] reason, and we're like, no, dang it. I'm always Android, but I mean, for a lot of people it's
Flo Ion (00:12:36):
A convenience thing too.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:12:37):
Yeah, well, that's true. We get really invested into one side and it makes it harder to switch to the other. But I mean, I don't think that you're alone, I guess is my point a lot. There are a lot of people that have been on Android for a very long time thought I'm never switching, and the gap between what Apple offers and has always been known to be good at and then the things that it hadn't done yet, because [00:13:00] air quotes, Android's always open and allows you to do so much more. I mean, that gap is shrinking.
Flo Ion (00:13:05):
That's also an issue with it being so open. That's why the Apple experience is a little more friendly to the user because they don't have to worry about all these things that they have to set up in the background. You really don't have to go through the settings as an iOS user. They just give you a phone to use, and that's the dichotomy we still have going on.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:13:29):
Yeah. [00:13:30] What did you think of the focal length thing that was the kind of adjustable focal length? Is that a feature that's really useful? Seems
Flo Ion (00:13:38):
Like it would be. Yeah, it really helps with taking pictures of kids and pets. Yes. What they told us to take pictures with, and as I was explaining to a friend yesterday, she was asking me, she's like, should I update from the 12? And I was like, yes. Because honestly, having that ability to scale in without actually cropping the photos you would with a two X, [00:14:00] it preserves a little more of the photo, and when you're already taking a smartphone photo, you want to preserve as much of it as you can. It's not like a full-blown camera system. So I appreciate the option, even if it is at its core, a software trick because these aren't physical certain in super physical lenses like doing the deeded, but it really helps to get the subtle blur behind [00:14:30] your person as you're shooting a photo of them without taking an aggressive portrait shot. Yeah,
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:14:37):
Yeah. Right. I know we're reaching the end of the interview. Is there any striking, as should I just call you Ms. Android? Ms. Android coming out of this appreciates
Flo Ion (00:14:53):
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:14:55):
Well, at least for now, Ms. Android, you never know. She could be missed something in the future. [00:15:00] We'll see. Are you tempted by any particular thing from this experience to kind of change your thinking on what phone you want or what you want to see from Android? What are your about? Are you asking if Flo is a trader? No, I'm asking if she's curious. I mean, I know from my personal experience, I used Android forever, and then I did kind of the switch. We've done the switch. We don't think we have. No, it was with Megan. With Megan, yeah. I was wondering [00:15:30] right when Megan left, we talked about it. Every time Jason has asked. I'm like, but I mean I've done
Flo Ion (00:15:38):
Those maybe after the pixelate
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:15:39):
Maybe. Yeah. Yeah, maybe the pixelate. Yeah, I doubt it, but I mean, I did those experiences and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't enough to woo me over, but I was like, okay, I get it. I see why people are really, really into this. What has this kind of experience told you again, Ms. Android, about iOS in your life?
Flo Ion (00:16:00):
[00:16:00] I think Apple really understands its users and what they want out of their devices. I really feel like they are just reading forums and just trying to make things happen where they can. I'm particularly struck by this ability to tether your iPhone as a camera to your Mac. I understand that that's a very pro level thing to even consider, and technically it's not live yet, so I haven't even really reviewed it to [00:16:30] speak to its efficacy, but the idea of having that kind of ability within an ecosystem, that's why you want a company that controls everything from the inside out because then you can do stuff like that. So that's kind of what I about.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:16:48):
Then you can do stuff like that and it'll just work. Just work.
Flo Ion (00:16:53):
Well, yeah, just work. It doesn't always work. Right.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:16:56):
That's how Leo, for the most part, hosted from Rhode Island [00:17:00] for the Apple event was using continuity camera and it looked really good. It great. It was sharp, it looked great, and there was no delay. So yeah, I agree that everything working together is nice in that aspect, but there are then the trade-offs of to kind of further with this, he ended up giving the phone that he has now as iPhone to his sister, and so because of that, from the point he left Rhode Island [00:17:30] until now, he has not really been able to use his Apple watch because the Apple watch was paired with that iPhone. Oh, no. And so those kinds of things are the hurdle that you have. When everything works together, it all needs to work together. And when it's not all there to work together, it doesn't all work together. When it's all synced, it works great.
Yeah. Yeah. That's all we hope. Well, thank you for doing what you're doing over at Gizmodo and [00:18:00] checking out what it's like on the other side of the fence and seeing where you get to. And thanks for coming on because Flo, you, Flo, it's been a while since a podcast with you and I miss you in my life, so thank you. I know I miss you too, Jason, you need to post more tos. Just going to put it out there. Alright, I'll do my best. I'll try when I can. Flo writes for Gizmoto. Of course. You can also hear her on the material podcast with Andy and Ako. Thank you, Flo. We'll [00:18:30] see you soon. Bye. Take care. Alrighty. Up next Google. Bard got an update with new integrations. We'll learn a bit about that momentarily. But first, let's take a quick break so I can tell you about our first sponsor today.
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[00:20:30] Once you find the doc you want, you can book them immediately with just a few taps in the app. No more waiting awkwardly on hold with the receptionist. So go to zocdoc.com/tnw and download the Zocdoc app for free. I know all of you out there very clever, can go to the app store or the Google Play store and type in Zocdoc. Don't do that. Please let them know that you heard about the app here. Head to zocdoc.com/tnw, then find and book a top rated doctor today. That's Z ooc [00:21:00] d c.com/tnw. Thank you Zocdoc for sponsoring this week's episode of Tech News Weekly, zocdoc.com/tnw. Alright, we are back from the break and that means it's time to talk about our next story. I happened across a announcement earlier this week about Google improving upon the Bard experience, which frankly I think it needs to do. So [00:21:30] I was curious to hear about what all is changing when it comes to Bard, what's new and what improvements the company has done. Joining us today to talk about it is Hugh Langley of insider who has written about the new updates. Welcome back to the show, Hugh.
Hugh Langley (00:21:48):
Hey, thanks for having me again.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:21:49):
Yeah, so let's have you start by telling us all about Google Bard. How does it kind of compare to open AI's chat G P T that I think many people are familiar with and of course, [00:22:00] which is sort of under the hood open AI's technology?
Hugh Langley (00:22:06):
Yeah, I mean, so Bar is Google's chatbot as it's often referred to, it's similar to chat T, which many people have used. You ask it questions, you give it prompts, it'll tell you things, ask it any kind of question really, and it'll give you a response. It is similar in a lot of [00:22:30] ways to chat G B T, one of its advantages is it's a bit more up to date in terms of the information chat, G B Ts. I still think the information stops around 2021, so it's pulling up more recent information, but it's quite similar in terms of what it's meant to do and Microsoft obviously has its own one. I actually saw today they just announced a kind of rebirth of what they're calling copilot, [00:23:00] probably not coincidentally, timed very close to the Bard News and Bard, Microsoft saying it's going to be your assistant for all of its kind of enterprise products. So what these things are is sort of changing by the day really.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:23:16):
Now, Google's Bard has been the butt of many a joke, including a few of my own at this point, and that's due to it up to this point providing responses that just don't seem to be on [00:23:30] par with what we've seen from something like OpenAI Chat, G P T. But the company rolled out a new version of its large language model. So I'm curious, does that mean we're going to see improvements to its responses?
Hugh Langley (00:23:44):
So that's the idea. So Google did update Bard with its latest large language model, which is known as Palm two p a l m two a few months ago. But what they've done this week is they've rolled out [00:24:00] what they're calling a sort of finer, a newer version of that same model. It's had some new fine tuning is the technical term for these large language models and some various improvements to the base model. So it should be a little better. What really is happening is they've done this in time with some new abilities, so they announced these extensions. So Bard can now function in tandem with other Google apps [00:24:30] and that's kind of where some of these improvements to the language model are coming from. It's still going to make mistakes though. We call them hallucinations and yes, you're right out the gate, there was a bit of a gaff for them. I think Bard made some sort of factual error when they first showed it off to the press. I think it made some mistake about that. I think it was the James Webb telescope and made some factual inaccuracy about that. So it was a bit of a PR disaster out the door for them. It has gotten better and then the introduction [00:25:00] of Palm two a few months back has certainly improved it. But as you say, like chat, G P T, all of these chatbots are certainly prone to making errors, that's for sure.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:25:13):
So let's talk about what Bard can do as of this latest update. The company is integrating it with many of its own services, YouTube maps, Google Flights, et cetera, and we'll talk about what it can do with your information soon. But let's first start by talking about these kind of services available to everyone. Can you give us some examples [00:25:30] of how Bard can be used for YouTube or Maps or Google flights?
Hugh Langley (00:25:36):
Sure. So what they've done is they've effectively integrated Bard with these. They're just calling them extensions, which is what they are. Bard can now communicate with YouTube, Google Shopping and Google flights as well and Google Maps. So if you want to say ask it to give you some directions from a place, it will [00:26:00] now pull that information from Google Maps. It'll actually bring the map up into Bard so you'll be able to see it. It's also integrating with other apps that will require specific consent from the user. That's so Gmail and workspace will integrate if the user gives consent, and that will mean you'll be able to have Ask Bard to find something in your email. Maybe you want to ask it to say, I don't know, summarize an upcoming trip I have and it'll search [00:26:30] a Gmail and sort of try. Its best to synthesize that information into a summary within Bard. So it's about, it's really Google doing what we expected they would do, which is to just tap into all of their very popular apps and put them all. So they're sort of feeding that information into Bard.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:26:48):
So you can also grant it permission to access your Gmail as you mentioned, but also your docs, your personal docs and Google Drive. So outside of Gmail, which we just talked about, [00:27:00] what are the use cases for Bard in terms of accessing the content that I have? And then I guess more than that, how does that kind of set Google's bard apart from the competition?
Hugh Langley (00:27:15):
Yeah, so for example documents, you might want to ask it to summarize a document or a spreadsheet I have in my drive and it might try and come up with a simple summary or pull together multiple documents [00:27:30] and summarize that information in terms of what that does. I mean like I mentioned today what we saw from Microsoft with a new copilot, it sounds like that's going to do a kind of similar thing. So again, they're sort of both moving quite fast. I think what Google's advantage here is just how many of these super popular apps they have, Gmail docs, workspace space, these are multi-billion user [00:28:00] products and that's kind of Google's advantage with all of this stuff. They already had these very popular consumer facing products out there. So what they've been trying to do over the past few months is really supercharged them. I suppose with its AI technology and with Bard
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:28:20):
Now we have seen tech companies banning employee use of L l M based chatbots due to the concern that proprietary information might be used to train the model [00:28:30] for people who are listening who are not techie. What that means is sometimes you'll have employees at say a tech company called Peach who are playing around with chatbots and they might end up trying to see if it can do some coding for them. So they put in some proprietary code from the I Peach, no wait, the iPhone peach, we'll go with that anyway, and then that ends up getting used in that chatbots training information. [00:29:00] And so companies are going, whoa, whoa, whoa. We don't want this to end up getting scooped up and potentially spread across the world. So my question is, given that concern from a corporate level, will Google be using my personal information in Gmail docs and drive to train Bard because I really don't want it stealing all those brilliant song lyrics that I've written over the years?
Hugh Langley (00:29:24):
Yeah, no, it's a totally valid concern. It was probably my first question for them when I spoke to 'em about the announcement [00:29:30] last week. So they're saying no. So first of all, you do have to grant permission for integration with Gmail Docs workspace, and then beyond that they're saying that information that you use with Bard will not be used for training purposes. Other information you're using with Bard may be used, they've said that. So yes, if you're pulling information from your emails, all that stuff they're saying will not be used for training and will not be seen by any [00:30:00] reviewers who are working to improve Bard.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:30:03):
Understood. Then let's see. I guess another question is, I actually did end up using this feature earlier this week. I gave it permission to access my drive, my personal drive, and I used to work as a tech journalist at a company where we used Google Docs to write our transcripts and then we [00:30:30] put them into the C M S and blah, blah, blah, blah. So I've got a lot of tech that I've written about in the past. So I thought I'll test it. I will tell it to look through my Google Drive and surface some of the tech topics I've written about in the past and then kind of summarize them for me.
I asked it to do that, but instead of summarizing the topics I've written about it confidently presented me with a bunch of topics and three or four articles that it said that I had written that I absolutely had not written [00:31:00] and said they were mine. And what's interesting, you said something earlier that made this make a little bit more sense. You said that Bard's l l m has more recent data and so now it makes sense why those topics, which were about stuff that we're talking about today. That was definitely not around when I was writing about Tech at the time, were some of these articles that said I had written. So I followed up and said, can you show me where I've actually written about that because I know that I've not written about that. And then it proceeded to apologize and say that it made all of this up, et cetera, et cetera, [00:31:30] et cetera. So my question is what is Google doing about hallucination and misinformation when it comes to its tie-ins with your Gmail, your docs, your drive, but then also something, I mean I could imagine I ask it to give me the rankings for the top five candy stores in San Francisco and then a map to the location and then I show up and it's just a parking lot that costs way too much to park in and that's because it's completely made that up. [00:32:00] What are they doing about misinformation and hallucination here?
Hugh Langley (00:32:04):
Yeah, it's still a huge problem with these chat bots. So part of the update this week is another feature where when you ask, so bar already had a little, it's a Google It button, like a little g icon. So when you ask Bard a question, it would give you the response and then you could Google that response as well. It was like a shortcut to Googling the same thing you asked it. So if you wanted to sort of verify, check the information, you could do that. [00:32:30] What they've done now is they've gone another step with that. So when you hit that button, what you'll now see is it will, that'll highlight all of the text and it'll highlight the text in two colors, green and then a sort of orangey brown color. Now the green means this is corroborated with something through a Google search and you can hover over that and click it.
It'll give you the link and you can click it and it will take you to that U R L and you can see what's corroborating that information. [00:33:00] When it's the orangey brown color, that means that's barred saying this may or may not be correct. I could not corroborate this with anything through a Google search. So it's basically Google running out a feature that sort of tells you when the product might be wrong, which is kind of funny for a tech company to do that. But it's really important because like you said, there's these confident errors. I think sometimes we refer to them as, which is where bar is just, or chat G B T or whatever, just telling you something in a very straightforward, confident way [00:33:30] and it's easy to believe what it's saying. So what Google's doing now is going to highlight where maybe it's getting it wrong.
It's not to say that it is wrong, but it's to say that, okay, this can't be corroborated and that's something you probably want to double check yourself. But yeah, I personally, I mean I am still, so just earlier yesterday actually, I try to get it to summarize an upcoming flight from my Gmail and it just made up a date. It got it completely wrong, but then [00:34:00] I asked to do it again a few hours later and it got it spot on. So yeah. So in terms of the highlighting so far it doesn't seem that works with the integrations, but it does still work with the questions and responses.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:34:12):
Understood. And then my last question for you, if folks want to find these new Bard features to try them out for themselves, is there a place they go or do they just do a Google? How do they get access to this new Bard stuff?
Hugh Langley (00:34:26):
Yeah, it's been rolled out instantly. So if [00:34:30] you go onto Bard, as long as you're using the personal version of Bard, it's not currently working in the enterprise workspace version, as long as your Google account is just like a standard Google account. When you go onto Bard, you'll actually see it in the corner is a little like jigsaw puzzle, I guess the universal symbol for extensions these days. And you click that and it'll bring up, it'll show you all of the extensions. And then with the ones I mentioned, some of them you will need to give that explicit permission. There was a little toggle you hit [00:35:00] and then I think it asks you again maybe if you are okay with 'em doing this. And then from that point, you shouldn't really need to think about it. Google suggests as well when you're using these extensions within bar to sort of tag the app you're wanting to use. So check my at symbol gmail, a little Gmail like on Will appear and then you can do that. It actually worked once when I didn't do that. So you might want to maybe both works, but I think you're meant to tag these apps, so [00:35:30] to increase the likelihood of actually getting
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:35:33):
It right. Okay. Well there's a good tip. Yeah, we wanted to get it right, not tell us a flight's coming up that doesn't exist. Hugh Langley always a pleasure to have you on the show. Of course, folks can head over to Business Insider to check out this piece, but if they want to follow you online to keep up with your work, where should they go to do that?
Hugh Langley (00:35:51):
They can go to, I was about to call it Twitter x. I'm just at Hugh Langley on there and I try to share as much as I can, [00:36:00] maybe less so these days. But yeah, that's the best place to find me.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:36:03):
Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.
Hugh Langley (00:36:06):
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:36:06):
You. Thank you, Hugh. Yeah, and twitter.com still works. So I like to just pretend that it's still Twitter because I can still enter that into the U R L bar and it still takes me there. It'll probably disappear next week at this point. I sent that out loud just in time. Yeah. Alright, up next. Microsoft got really leaky. They're leaking out a bunch of stuff all over the place. It's going everywhere and it's not good. Somebody had a really [00:36:30] bad day. We'll talk about that. But first, this episode of Tech News Weekly is brought to you by discourse, the online home for your community. For our community, we have a twit community with discourse. We love it for over a decade, discourse has made it their mission to make the internet a better place for online communities. That's what it's all about, right? One giant community by harnessing the power of discussion, real-time chat and AI discourse makes it easy to have meaningful conversations and collaborate [00:37:00] with your community anytime, anywhere.
So if you want to actually create a community like we have done, you can visit discourse.org/twit, make sure and go to that U R L. You're going to get one month free on all self-serve plans. When you do that, it's trusted by some of the largest companies in the world. Discourse is open source. It powers more than 20,000 online communities. So whether you're just starting out or you want to take your current [00:37:30] community to the next level, you want to level it up. There's a plan for you. They've got a basic plan for a private invite only community, a standard plan if you want unlimited members, and then of course a public presence along with that. And then finally, a business plan for active customer support communities. Jonathan Bava is the developer advocacy lead at Twitch, actually said, discourse is the most amazing thing we have ever used.
We have never experienced [00:38:00] software so reliable ever. Wow, that's a big proclamation and true. One of the biggest advantages to creating your own community with discourse is that you own your own data, right? It's your data. You will always have access to all of your conversation. History, discourse will never sell your data to advertisers. Discourse gives you everything you need in one place. So make discourse the online home for your community. Visit discourse.org/twi, [00:38:30] and like I said, you'll get one month free on all self-serve plans. Take your pick, that's discourse.org/twi and we thank them for their support of Tech News Weekly. All right, so like I said, someone at Microsoft had a really bad day this week. Not happy. Maybe a team was not happy, I don't know. But I do know that the F T C is blaming Microsoft for this unprecedented leak [00:39:00] this week of the company's gaming roadmap all the way out to 2028. I mean, it's kind of like the full money really joining me to talk our way through. All of it is, well, it's the triumphant return of Sam Kovich. Sam, it's been too long. How are you doing,
Sam Machkovich (00:39:16):
Sam? Been far too long. I love that it took maybe the largest gaming sector leak in years to bring me on, but if that's what it takes to get your thunder, then I will take it. I will accept this lightning. I will accept this. Yes. [00:39:30] Wild news. Where do you want to begin?
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:39:31):
Yeah, well, I mean, I think maybe we start with the case itself because this is all tied to the Microsoft Activision Blizzard case that we definitely talked about on the show in past several weeks. How does a leak of this magnitude happen when it's being directed through a case like this? And obviously, like I said, FTC is blaming Microsoft. So what did Microsoft do wrong here in the confines of this case
Sam Machkovich (00:40:00):
[00:40:00] As far as disclosure goes with these kinds of antitrust cases? Because Microsoft wants to spend a lot of money, billions on acquiring one of the largest console computer and phone gaming conglomerates, Activision Blizzard King, remember this ranges from World of Warcraft to Call of Duty to Candy Crush. And a lot of in between that kind of disclosure where you've got to just upload files in a more internet connected court [00:40:30] system. So nobody's saying who Microsoft has yet to come out and say, we did it. It's our fault Joe and accounting did it. But somebody in the course of making documents available for all review possible hit the wrong button or uploaded the wrong non redacted file. This is supposed to be a place where redacted files would go to eventually, I believe be
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:40:55):
Sam Machkovich (00:40:57):
Revealed. So the unredacted ones, even though the files in [00:41:00] question have the word redacted in them as if that was the intent. So you end up with a ton of these documents. What's really striking is a lot of them aren't just transcripts, which you would understand, okay, well we can redact all the sensitive stuff and still have certain timelines and people in the conversation be public. So those being unredacted is intense, but then you just have entire product announcement categories that would've required a massive black shape over what the shape of a [00:41:30] controller. So it's really confusing as to not just lack of redaction, but also the scope of the documents. This is a lot of internal information that people would kill to see just an average because there's so much smoke and mirrors in the modern gaming and entertainment space of we're going to wait and we're going to wait and we're going to get you hyped up with little tidbits every two to three months. And a lot of that's gone. Now,
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:41:54):
What's so interesting about this, okay, so first let's dive into, I think one [00:42:00] thing that cracks me up about a leak like this is yes, everybody's like, oh my goodness, I can't believe something like this happened. But so quickly it just veers into, alright, what are we not supposed to know? Tell us the details. It's hard to not go there. So let's go there and then we'll come back and talk a little bit about the impact that this potentially has on Microsoft when your goods are spilled entirely. So what would you say is the most valuable piece of information that Microsoft did not want to give, but they apparently did?
Sam Machkovich (00:42:30):
[00:42:30] It's hard to count that because I think for some people it's the specific hardware announcements, which I'll get to. But I personally think it's the clear numbers and clear answers. Now, there's a lot of back and forth emails that are full threads with every reply in the conversation from major stakeholders, Phil Spencer being the most obvious well-known because he's a very public face of Xbox. He's sort of the chief of the Xbox Division and was promoted in the Microsoft hierarchy as one of the largest leaders in the entire [00:43:00] company, but also a lot of the major players in that consumer electronics division. So we're seeing specific numbers, number of games sold, number of Xbox game pass subscriptions, number of hours that are played, which is a very large metric that they're very, very intent on. They really want number of hours, and that's just interesting to know that they care about that metric.
There's a number, 1.5 billion was a subsidy that they marked for the series X and Series SS boxes, those new consoles in its first holiday season. That's massive. [00:43:30] So we also have these well-placed guesses from Microsoft about its peers. Here's one example that kind of blows my mind. They believe that the privately held company valve who makes steam and a lot of PC games and sells a lot of PC games is worth roughly seven or 8 billion in their estimation. That's not them just pulling a number out of the hat. They have good intel to lead them to that number. And as a privately held company, everyone's always wondered and guessed how much are they worth? So that number being there along with a bunch of other estimations and evaluations [00:44:00] I think is huge. But the most widely shared details, the ones that you may have seen if you're scrolling on social media that has anything to do with games are the pieces of hardware.
So there's a refresh to the existing systems, the series Ss and the Series X. These appear to have refreshes coming in holiday of 2024 and the series X, which you're seeing on the screen right now, that image is pretty wild. We're seeing exactly how it may look. [00:44:30] That's pretty much done. You don't get a render like that if the hardware's not already being molded and prepared and run through all the QA and all of that. It's removed the disc drive apparently. And this internal document, this was clearly never meant to go out to people because it uses the phrase adorable all digital. That's his rubbing a hardcore segment of gamers the wrong way. This is the kind of message that Phil Spencer would've never let get out because Microsoft has talked a lot about backwards compatibility [00:45:00] and what's more backwards compatible than disks, the ones that you and your family have buying maybe for years.
So if Microsoft is really going to do that, then that would mean there's no Xbox series system that would have a disc drive from 2024 on. I mean, there's a lot to be said about that and people are saying it. And I'm one of those who believes in being able to have choice when I want to get old games, because when you go to buy a digital copy of an old movie or old music, [00:45:30] it's always going to cost more than the used disc. And that's three times as bad in gaming. So think about Google Player iTunes, why would I spend that much for a copy of, I dunno, leaving Las Vegas, why can't just get that on A D V D? Yeah, video games are even worse in that way. So that's the biggest, I think, thing of physical, one of the biggest things. There's some more, but I'll let you pop in
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:45:52):
Real. Well, I think what strikes me about that is a console that goes all digital runs the risk of being [00:46:00] seen as having no true longevity in my mind. It really is a piece of hardware that exists for a specific moment in time. And once Microsoft decides that that moment has passed, that console's done, and I realize that we've seen many consoles begin and end, but so many of the classic consoles, the ones that I grew up with, you can still go back and enjoy 100% of everything that ever happened on those consoles because it's all [00:46:30] physical media.
Sam Machkovich (00:46:31):
But here's where all these documents are interesting because Microsoft expects you to say that, and their response is, we are a multiple platform company. The whole point is we just want you on Xbox. Now that's been public messaging for a while, but they've talked about their plans for a new box in 2028, and they actually have until the end of the calendar year this year according to these documents from last year, which means things may have changed, but the plan was to finalize some serious specific hardware [00:47:00] details by the end of this year, the form factor, also the type of processor, whether it's going to revolve on X 64, which is sort of what standard computers and current systems use or a r m arm, which is what the Switch and a lot of smaller electronics use. So that's going to be a big decision that pushes, but they clearly still want us buying boxes or running in boxes.
But there's other charts that make really clear, they want you on subscriptions. They want you accessing everything maybe from the cloud. There's not all of the data [00:47:30] there that shows them saying, yes, internet connections are good enough in enough of the world where we can actually do streaming because game streaming is a lot more intensive than say Netflix or other video streaming. But they're clearly trying to say, Hey, you don't need the disc. We're going to make it so convenient. Keep paying us money, keep buying into our subscription, stay on the service and we'll keep you hooked up. And they're not the only big tech company to do so. But we now have so much detail as to how they plan on pushing this and that it's a multi-year strategy. This is [00:48:00] something they need five years to sell, and instead this leak made it a lot faster.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:48:05):
Oh my goodness. Wow. Talk about a curve ball of epic proportions. I know we haven't talked about the controller. We probably can't talk in detail about every single thing, but I do want to talk about, you mentioned valve and these documents seem to allude to Microsoft having at least the strong desire to possibly scoop up Nintendo or scoop up valve or maybe even both. Does [00:48:30] that even sound possible to you from an antitrust kind of we're in the midst of technology antitrust Mecca right now. Is this even something that is conceivable A and B conceivable now that it's widely known?
Sam Machkovich (00:48:45):
So what's interesting is these documents point back to something that have been revealed months earlier where someone saw an email that said, Microsoft really wants to buy Sega and these documents now open up that story and specify how much they wanted to buy Sega [00:49:00] and what they would've paid. They would've gotten classic stuff like your Sonic the Hedgehog and newer games like Football Manager and everything in between. But what I find interesting is yes, valve and Nintendo are mentioned, especially because bigger executives go, how big could we go? And Phil Spencer is very frank in just sort of replying to that as opposed to necessarily saying that's his priority. But there's a conversation that evaded headlines this week. I want to point to this March of 2021, Phil Spencer is describing the importance of engagement to drive [00:49:30] Xbox success. So more people playing more games on Xbox is good for Xbox.
That's duh, of course. But then he goes on to say this, I want to make it clear to Google, Amazon, et cetera, that you are not going to catch us in gaming. And one of the reasons cited internally at Google for them divesting over the first party, meaning when they melted down their Stadia plan was our Zenax acquisition, meaning Bethesda and all that for the Billions they spent on that. And he says, I just want to put us out of reach. And another reply in the chain points [00:50:00] to that same narrative. I've heard as much from Google Friends about the Chill the Zenax acquisition had on their plan. So let's simmer on that for a second. This is a document that was handed to antitrust regulators about Microsoft's possible overreach in buying and acquiring other companies. And there's Phil Spencer clear as day saying to key Microsoft players that they should acquire more game making companies to freeze out the competition.
That sentence, that clause has not been making headlines, and it blows my mind because what it's pointing to is they're saying, this [00:50:30] is how we compete. There's a whole other document where Spencer talks about what does it mean to be AAA when there's not a retail chain, when Best Buy and Circuit City aren't the things that drive us as the big, big companies to have Mindshare. And his response is giant mega budget games with big anticipation. And Microsoft is kind of spelling out here, we will be aaa, not because we have space in store shelves, but because space in people's minds. And so buying Call of Duty, buying World of Warcraft, [00:51:00] buying Candy Crush in all those others is part of that. And I would really love to see regulators go and double down and look at what they're saying here because essentially saying, I want to put us out of reach. Holy cow.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:51:15):
So then in light of that, circling back to why we even see these documents to begin with, it's part of another, as part of an acquisition case where Microsoft wants to buy Activision Blizzard. And in light of what you just said [00:51:30] about some of these revelations, I mean that seems to make a really strong case that maybe something like this isn't a good idea because it's kind of playing into this idea of getting rid of all the competition so that there is one true player. Do you see docs like this? Well, what is your take on your outlook on this case? I guess at this point, given what
Sam Machkovich (00:51:51):
We know, I think that Microsoft has made a big enough, it's done a lot of conceding, especially with European regulators, to say, oh, you're concerned about [00:52:00] us in the cloud. Okay, we're going to partner with other cloud companies and make sure that our stuff is also sort of interchangeable geo force now, and some others are involved in that way. I don't know that regulators are going to take the action that they potentially could based on these documents. We don't really know. But I will say that the stuff they said about Nintendo is going to blow up certain kinds of relationships, especially in Asia. The stuff where Phil, this is a long thing, but the short version is that he suggests that there's [00:52:30] a Microsoft friendly entity that now owns a bunch of stock in Nintendo, and he wants that stockholder to start pushing and shaking some branches at Nintendo to be like, why aren't you getting more quarterly?
Money wouldn't align with a certain Western company, mean you'd make more money on a quarterly basis. And I think Nintendo now seeing that clear as day as a listed potential strategy is going to freeze out anything they can and stick with a very specific Japanese way of business of continuing to shut out the idea of Microsoft and Nintendo getting buddy-buddy. [00:53:00] There's a lot in the documents about that. And the short version is some partnerships are going to be fine. Some partnerships, especially with the US government, are probably going to be untouched even if they should be more opened up, even if they're making really clear that they're being sort of monopolistic and some partnerships are going to be embarrassed and irrevocably changed. Oh boy. Yeah. So that's going to be a thing that we're not going to see play out immediately, but there could be deals two, three years from now, how long these take that suddenly are a little less Microsoft specific. But ultimately Microsoft [00:53:30] has a lot of minds share, so they're still going to command presence. Game Pass is as these documents show quite successful at getting people and game companies want those eyeballs. So I do think at this point, the history books will be interesting on this 15 years from now is sort of my overall hunch on this.
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:53:46):
Yeah, right on. Well, Sam, such a pleasure getting you back on. It's been too long and I love hearing your take on all things gaming. Where do you want to point people? If people want to follow what you're doing
Sam Machkovich (00:54:00):
[00:54:00] Right now, don't use any of the other social medias. Sam red.com shows things I'm writing and links to other stuff. So if you're looking for me or want to email me, that's where, so it's good to see everybody, good to see you and hopefully chat soon about nerd stuff. Alright,
Jason Howell & Mikah Sargent (00:54:12):
Sounds good. Thank you, Sam. We'll be looking for the nerd stuff so we can find the opportunity. Thank you again, Sam. We'll talk to you soon. Alrighty, up next, we're going to take a look at the new devices and features Amazon announced at its recent product event. But first, I do want to take a quick break to tell you about Melissa. We're bringing you this episode of Tech News [00:54:30] Weekly, Melissa, the data quality experts. For 38 years, my word Melissa has helped companies harness the value of their customer data to drive insight, maintain data quality, and support global intelligence. We know all data goes bad, and it turns out up to 25% per year of data goes bad. Having clean and verified data helps customers to have a smooth error-free purchase experience. Bad data is bad [00:55:00] business and costs an average of $9 million each year.
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All righty. So Amazon had a product event where they announced several new products, but maybe not as many as we've seen in the past. The company is kind of known for rolling out product after product at its annual A L E X A events, and this year [00:57:30] it felt a little sober. In comparison. There are some iterations that I think we all should have expected to be happening. First and foremost, with an L L M based generative ai, A L E X A. So Amazon's virtual assistant is going to be powered and powered by and optimized for voice interactions using large language model. So this is going to improve a lot of stuff. It means that getting [00:58:00] real-time information, controlling the smart home, maximizing entertainment setting timers, whatever you happen to do with A L E X A, you'll be able to do this now soon you'll be able to test out some of these new capabilities before they roll them out.
If you're in the US, you can say A L E X A, let's chat. And then in the preview it'll show you how the virtual assistant is changing how it sounds, and then also you'll be able to understand its [00:58:30] ability to reason to infer your intent and understand complex requests. So you'll see a marked improvement in this, and I think what's most interesting for me about this is they seem to be going kind of the Apple route in terms of what we've heard Apple is working on internally with generative ai, and I think this is the right way to do it. What we see with Microsoft through binging and with Google through Bard [00:59:00] is a direct interaction between you and the generative ai, and that is in the form of these chatbots. And these chatbots are unpredictable. We've seen them made up articles that I had written that I did not write.
I mean it does all sorts of stuff that you don't know that you wrote. Yeah, whoa, might I write them in the future? Who knows? And so what Apple is reportedly doing is they're using generative AI [00:59:30] to take what you are saying and translate it into something that the machine is going to understand every time. So right now, when I tell Siri to do something, I kind of have to speak Siri's language and sometimes if I say to do a thing and do a thing, it doesn't do it exactly or it doesn't get it. With generative ai, it can take what you are saying no matter how you say it, [01:00:00] and then it can go, okay, you mean this, you mean this, you mean this. And then pass that information along to the assistant, have the assistant respond how you would expect it to. It seems like that's what Amazon is trying to do with A E X A.
It is kind of keeping, it's avoiding the concern for false information and some hallucination by making it so that it's just about translating human interaction into robotic interaction. And [01:00:30] I think that's the way to go, honestly. And some other features that are coming to a x A include an eye gaze mode. So right now you can use your voice to interact with the assistant or for the devices that support it, you can use touch for customers with speech or mobility disabilities. They'll be able to use eye gaze with their tablets to set different actions like playing music and shows, controlling their home, calling loved ones, so you don't have to use your hands. You [01:01:00] don't even have to use your voice, and this is coming to the Fire Max tablets. And then also A L E X A emergency assist is a way to think of it, kind of like Life Alert or something similar.
You can subscribe to this emergency assist feature and it's 5 99 per month or $59 per year, and it lets you get safety services as you need them, including 24 7 urgent [01:01:30] response, something called smart alerts and then emergency contacts. So think about if you fall in your home, being able to use this emergency assist to not only contact emergency services to come, but then also notify your family or whoever your emergency contacts happen to be of what's going on. Another thing I thought was kind of cool, I didn't at first have this in the list, but there's something called email to A L E X A, and the idea is that [01:02:00] if you send an email, an invite or even a photo that you take of an event to A L E X A, it will process the information that you send and then add it to your calendar and send you a confirmation.
So maybe you're out and about and you see a flyer for a show that you want to go see, take a photo, send it to the virtual assistant, and then it will email you back and say, okay, I've added that to your calendar. So it's a little bit more getting into personal assistant territory, which is kind of what we've [01:02:30] wanted out of this in the first place. Another fun thing is AI art on Fire tv. So if you have a Fire tv, you'll be able to prompt the virtual assistant on the fire TV to create something fun to use as a screensaver or a display on the TV that's going to be rolling out by the end of this year. And so in the background, you can have some fun art that you plus the AI [01:03:00] have created together. As far as hardware goes, the company announced new echo frames.
I have to tell you, I am shook reader. He was shook because I, I've had echo frames and they looked ugly and they didn't sound good and I didn't understand the point of them. The fact that they're still making frames is surprising to me. However, they have significantly improved upon the design of the echo [01:03:30] frames. These frames do look better, so they say high-end fashion plus of course a E X A technology. I suppose it doesn't hurt to have good looking models wearing them as well. That kind of adds to the, but no, there are several different pairs and they kind of remind me of Warby Parker glasses in that way. So you can use them to communicate with your virtual assistant. They have options for lenses, so UV [01:04:00] protection, prescription lenses, blue light lenses. They're of course splash and scratch resistance. You'll get media playback.
You can also place calls on them, 14 hours of battery life, and they of course let you charge with the case that comes with it, so they do look a lot better. I wouldn't feel as much like I'm wearing geek glasses on my face so much as I've seen in the past. [01:04:30] So yeah, those just look like normal sunglasses, but secretly it can be playing audio for you. Former colleague, Carsten Bondi had some echo frames and he actually quite liked them for the ability to just have kind of an ambient listening experience going on while he was doing other things. Price starts at $270, so they're not inexpensive, but I suppose if you're, yeah, look at those, [01:05:00] those just look like normal sunglasses. They do. What that picture kind of hides is the thicker arm. The thicker arm, yeah, definitely has a little bit of extra chunkiness to it, but I mean, I say that to kind of pick at it a little bit.
I suppose this is a far cry from where these kinds of things have been. I wish I would've brought in the frame so you could see. Yeah, so people could see before, not only was it thick in terms of sort of the vertical nature, but its width [01:05:30] on the side of your face was also so it was, yeah, I mean they were just big and they looked goofy. Yeah, these look a lot better. These look a lot better. There's a new Echo show eight that gets something called an ambient experience. The way that this works is that it will kind of change what's being displayed based on where you are in relation to the screen. So using computer vision and [01:06:00] ambient light sensors and all that stuff, it can determine your proximity. And so when you're further away, it's just going to show a simplified news headline perhaps, or a large clock information that you're actually able to see while you're standing across the room.
But as you get closer v v, boom, it transitions to a more detailed experience and then also one that it goes, okay, now that you're closer, you can interact with it with touch. So I think that's very smart. I like this idea of these devices interacting with us just as much as we interact with them. [01:06:30] And then I wanted to mention something that I'm really happy to see them do. This I think is a bit of a knife in the side of the smart photo frame ecosystem. They are releasing a, it's a dollar 99 a month, which is I think a very good price called a photo plus subscription. And with the photo plus subscription, you can basically turn your Echo or Fire TV [01:07:00] into, and by Echo I mean an echo show, any device that has a screen into a digital photo frame that other people can share photos to.
So many people buy these other products that are photo frames that there's some online service or email. Nick Play is one. Yeah, Nick play and a couple of those, your family members can send photos to those, and they're great, they look great. But to have this one device that does it all and that I know people could be sending photos to, it's just smart. I'm surprised it's taken [01:07:30] this long, this long to do it. It's surprising. It's a good idea to have. The Echo Hub is a new product category for Amazon, and it is meant to be a display. You stick to your wall and it lets you control your smart home. So it's completely wall mountable. You can use it if you want to with a stand, but they really kind of show it as this eight inch touchscreen that lets you control your smart home.
[01:08:00] It doesn't have any cameras or anything on it because it's not meant to be that. It is just kind of meant to be this display that you put on your screen or on your wall. It's $180. It has all of the devices that Echo and Amazon support, but it also has matter and thread built in, and then you can use, if you'd like, you can use it with power over ethernet if you've got something [01:08:30] that works with that. So if you wanted to kind of install it and have it constantly powered in the wall, you can do that as well. I think it's a great idea. And along with that, they announced something new called Map View, and this is a pretty clever idea where you create a map of your home and then you notate where your smart home accessories are in your home.
So I've got lights here and I've got the lock on my front door and I've got my garage door [01:09:00] and I've got a light strip against the wall, and then people can use, for example, that Echo Hub or any device that supports Amazon's A L E X A app to see the view in that map way and be able to go, okay, so these are the lights in the living room. I can adjust those, turn those on and off. I think that's a very clever idea they've come up with that's rolling out later this year. And it is privacy preserving your map, your home map does not get shared [01:09:30] or used to market to you. A few other quick things, a new EERO called the eero Max seven. It starts at $600. That's because it packs in wifi seven. It has two 10 gigabit ethernet ports on it, and two, I think 2.5 gigabit ethernet ports.
This is the absolute cutting edge latest in wifi technology built into a router. So obviously [01:10:00] it's going to be a high price. It's a tri band wifi seven. If you've got that kind of connection at home, and if you've got devices that support wifi seven, then you will be able to use this to the full capabilities. But I think what it does is it lets you go ahead and get this now and be prepared for the next step when it comes to all of the devices to also supporting wifi seven. Wow, three packs, $1,700. Yeah. Yeah, [01:10:30] just the one pack on its own. Just the one router is I think 2,500 square feet of coverage, but if you've got more than that, a k A, if you live outside of California, then you might want the bigger size, so all the money you're saving on rent, you can then buy the bigger size.
And then of course there are some updates to Fire tv. The second generation Fire TV stick four K, which is, it's 49.9, [01:11:00] and so this is a great price for a streaming dongle. Not a whole lot of improvements other than it's faster, but it has wifi six. Then there's the Fire TV stick, four K max, second generation. Oh dear. This one packs in a new thing called the Ambient Experience, and what this does is it kind of eliminates blank screens. So anytime you are, instead of [01:11:30] going to a screensaver mode or when there happens to be an interstitial screen, it will show you some other kind of a smart display so it can have your family calendar, the local weather forecast, the reminders. You can also, as I mentioned, use it to create AI artwork, or you can also use the collection of more than 2000 free gallery quality pieces of artwork to have displayed on your screen.
[01:12:00] So it's just kind of a nice way to keep stuff displayed on the screen whenever it's not in use if you happen to do that there. For folks who are listening, we've got a slideshow playing of the different things that you can possibly go on the screen. I think it's quite nice, although I'm sure it'll quickly become a way for Amazon to advertise. Oh, I'm sure. Products to us. Yeah, no doubt. Outside of that, there's a new Fire TV soundbar, which is a 24 [01:12:30] inch soundbar. That of course works well when integrated with Fire TV stuff, some updates to both Blink and Ring. So Blink is one of their home security device manufacturers. Ring is the other home security device manufacturer. New stickup cams. Blink is the more budget friendly option where Ring is the more feature packed and pricier option, including a Ring Stickup CAM Pro, that [01:13:00] is almost everything.
There's some stuff for kids, kids, totally, and family, but we don't really need to go into that because it's just for the most part, some iterative updates to family stuff and kids stuff. So while it sounds like a bunch of new products, it is less than we've seen the company announce in the past, so it's feeling less like spaghetti projects. Yeah, that's what I was going to say. There isn't a whole lot there that's kind of like, whoa, whoa, whoa, they're [01:13:30] doing this. I mean, maybe the frames, but they already did that. Yeah. This is just an iteration on that design. There's no new robot that they wants you to put in your house. Correct. It is, and this is refreshing to me because I was getting tired of seeing the company use its customers as its means of alpha and beta testing, its products, making you pay for them and test them and then tell them how the experience goes.
It wasn't just, we'll send this to you. You try it, you [01:14:00] see what you think, and then we consider making it a product. No, you had to buy it, and then if it was garbage, then you paid for it. It was, I feel a bad way of doing business. So seeing these iterative updates I think is a better idea, and I am very excited to see the improvements or even just changes to A L E X A by way of large language model. Now, I don't know if Amazon has its own large language model [01:14:30] what it's using, but hopefully we'll see some more about that as time goes on and we get more access to this. So a lot of this stuff rolling out over time. We of course can link to the Amazon page that has links to all of this stuff as well, so you can kind of figure out if there's anything on that list.
I know I'm eyeballing that new hero for sure. I thought for sure you were going to get the frames. Oh golly, not me. Next episode, you're going to be sporting some new glasses. Oh, Lord, help [01:15:00] me. No, thank you. So yeah, that's what Amazon announced earlier this week. Right on. Well, we have reached the end of this episode of Tech News Weekly. We thank you so much for watching and listening every Thursday when we record this and release it. You can subscribe by going to twit tv slash tnw, find all the ways to subscribe there. If you're outside of the club, that's the way to support us. Subscribe to the feed and download [01:15:30] it each and every week, and we appreciate you when you do that. I want to point out that a great way to help out and to make sure we can continue to bring these shows to you each and every week is by joining the club.
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Ask the tech guys with Leo LaPorte and yours truly, where we take your tech questions live on air and do our best to answer them, or on Tuesdays. [01:19:30] You can watch iOS today with Rosemary Orchard. And again, yours truly, this upcoming episode will be all about the new iPhones. We'll be reviewing those, so I'm looking forward to that. Jason Howell, what about you? Well, it can be found on Twitter slash x at Jason Howell. It can be found on Mastered on Twitter social slash at Jason Howell. I have to look into that Chihuahua thing. I know that links to something else that has all of your links, and I need to just make something like that. It's easier to point people [01:20:00] to just one place. But yes, my other show right now is AI Inside. Right now. You can only get it if you're in the club, but we are streaming it live.
So if you're around on Thursdays 1:00 PM Pacific, you can tune into the live stream Twitter tv slash live and see what you're missing. It'll be me and Jeff Jarvis. Today we're speaking with nait Weiss Blatt, who is the author of Tech Lash and has a new blog about the AI Tech Lash. So we're going to talk all about that. So that's going to be a lot of fun. [01:20:30] Big thanks to everybody here in the studio who help us do this show each and every week. John, John, there's Burke behind the scenes sometimes an's in here throwing things around. Everybody gets involved. We've got Anthony today. Anthony, that's right. Anthony is filling in. That's right. I couldn't see behind the monitors. Didn't get there. There we is. Okay, now I got it. And thank you for watching and listening each and every week. We appreciate you and we'll see you next time on Tech News Weekly. Bye-bye. Bye, everybody.