Sep 3, 2021

Axios Login

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  • Situational awareness: Apple said it would postpone rolling out its controversial plan to scan iPhones for child sexual abuse material, "based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others," and would "collect input and make improvements" before releasing the new system.

Today's newsletter is 1,189 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: To see where hardware's headed, look to the edges

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The inevitable centerpieces of fall's new-hardware season are new iPhones, Windows 11 PCs and other devices from Facebook, Amazon and Google.

  • But to see where tech is moving next, you'll want to pay close attention to the market's edges — the niche products and surprise debuts that represent the companies' experiments and long bets.

Why it matters: The industry is on the cusp of new devices, including augmented reality glasses. Full-featured, affordable devices are still a couple years away, but, as we've written, the future is being developed in plain sight if you look closely enough.

Driving the news:

  • Apple is expected to launch the next iPhone at an event sometime this month, though this is unlikely to be a year in which the smartphone gets a major overhaul.
  • Apple may also debut new iPad and Apple Watch, though reports are that Apple has run into production issues on a forthcoming Apple Watch that has a larger screen than previous models.
  • Microsoft is launching Windows 11 on Oct. 5, and the PC industry will have a range of new models timed to the software update. Windows 11 is the biggest change in years for the venerable operating system.
  • Facebook has promised new hardware this fall, including smart glasses it has developed in partnership with eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica, maker of Ray-Ban.
  • Amazon always has a slew of new hardware in the fall, and this year should be no exception. Its tablet and speaker updates tend to be incremental, but it often drops a few experimental hardware launches in with the mainstream fare.
  • Google has promised a Pixel 6 launch that will be the first to use the company's internally designed Tensor processor.

Between the lines: With the Facebook/Ray-Ban collaboration, the product itself is expected to offer a glimpse of the future. In other cases, though, it may be just a feature or new sensor that offers such a peek.

  • For example, Apple has included a lidar sensor in some recent iPhone and iPad models. That feature isn't super interesting for what it does today, but could prove useful for new functions in the future.
  • With Google, the new Tensor processor's the thing to watch. Had Google's hardware ambitions been limited to conventional phones and Chromebooks, the company probably would have been just fine using chips from Qualcomm as it has in the past.
  • As with Apple, though, moving to internal designs opens the door to other shapes and sizes of device.
2. Business' anti-porn crackdown

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

CEOs, increasingly acting as the fourth branch of government, are moving in a moralistic direction — going much further than the law requires to keep their distance from porn, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.

Why it matters: Pornography and the production of sexually explicit material is entirely legal as far as the government is concerned — but it's also shunned by almost all of the business establishment.

Driving the news: OnlyFans has become one of the fastest-growing social networks in the world, with extremely impressive financials. Were it not in the porn business, it would be fighting off VCs desperate to invest at a multi-billion-dollar valuation.

  • Instead, OnlyFans is struggling not only to raise funds but also to maintain healthy relations with the creators on its platform, who are deeply suspicious of the company after its badly-explained and abortive attempt to ban porn.

The big picture: There are no major American porn companies. The biggest player in the business, MindGeek, is based in Canada; OnlyFans is based in the U.K.

  • Mainstream U.S. companies like eBay and Tumblr are implementing increasingly strict anti-porn policies, much to the annoyance of sex workers and historians.

Read the rest.

3. Match Group CEO blasts Texas abortion bill

The CEO of Match Group is creating a fund for Texas-based employees that will "help cover the additional costs incurred" if they need to seek care outside of Texas due to the state's restrictive new abortion law, Axios' Erin Doherty reports.

  • The fund will also help cover costs for dependents, CEO Shar Dubey said in an internal memo shared with Axios.

Driving the news: The Texas abortion ban, which went into effect Wednesday, is the most restrictive abortion law allowed to be enforced since the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

  • The law bans all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, after the detection of cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.
  • It also allows individuals to sue anyone suspected of helping a woman obtain an abortion — and awards at least $10,000 to people who do so successfully.

The big picture: Match Group, headquartered in Dallas, owns and operates the largest global portfolio of popular online dating services including Tinder, and Hinge, among others, per the company's website.

  • Austin-based online dating platform Bumble is also setting up a fund to assist women.

What she's saying: In the memo, Dubey said the Texas law "is so regressive to the cause of women's rights that I felt compelled to speak publicly."

  • "I immigrated to America from India over 25 years ago and I have to say, as a Texas resident, I am shocked that I now live in a state where women's reproductive laws are more regressive than most of the world, including India," she added.

Between the lines: Tech companies could also find themselves swept up in the Texas law in other ways.

4. Apple employees file complaints with NLRB

Apple employees have filed two separate complaints in recent days with the National Labor Relations Board, agency records show.

Why it matters: The move comes as Apple employees are being increasingly vocal about their grievances despite a decades-long tradition of secrecy.

Apple senior engineering program manager Ashley Gjovik told Reuters that she filed one of the two complaints, telling the news agency she had experienced harassment as well as a reduction in her responsibilities. Gjovik said she was glad to see more employees speaking up.

  • "The biggest obstacle for making progress at Apple is the culture of secrecy and alienation," she told Reuters.

The other side: Apple declined to comment on the specifics of the complaints, citing privacy concerns, but said in a statement: "We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised."

5. Take note

On Tap

  • The big European trade show IFA would have been kicking off in Berlin, except for the whole coronavirus thing. Instead, the organizers are running a smaller event there called Shift Mobility.

Trading Places

  • Fanbase has named GW Wright as its director of sports and athletics.


6. After you Login

Not only is the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes still a thing, but ABBA has a new album coming out Nov. 5. You can watch a video here.