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October 25, 2017

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Questions loom over iPhone 8 demand and iPhone X supply

Apple warned Tuesday that iPhone X buyers should show up early when the device hits stores on Nov. 3. Demand for the iPhone 8 has also reportedly been sluggish, with Canada's largest carrier calling sales "anemic." Those were the two potential issues we reported ahead of the devices' introduction as most likely to be a problem.

iPhone 8: Regarding the lack of iPhone 8 demand, we would have been interested to hear AT&T's thoughts on the subject, but sadly it didn't come up on the company's earnings conference call.

iPhone X: As for the iPhone X, not only is the phone coming more than a month after the other new models, but multiple reports suggest supply is even tighter than planned amid component challenges. Bloomberg says that Apple has loosened its requirements for a key component in the Face ID recognition system in order to boost supply.

Why it matters: The iPhone is the biggest driver of Apple's sales and profits and the launch season is a critical time. We should know a bit more on both fronts when Apple reports earnings Nov. 2.

Apple and PayPal ask Supreme Court to rule LGBT discrimination illegal

A handful of tech companies have signed on to a brief asking the Supreme Court to rule in favor of a gay Colorado couple who were refused service by a Colorado baker.

The numbers so far: Apple, Affirm, PayPal and Yelp are the only companies that have indicated they will sign on to the brief, according to a source. The deadline for companies to sign on is the close of business today with briefs in the case due Monday.

Note: That's a smaller presence from tech than there has been for other recent cases, including other LGBT rights issues as well as immigration and other topics.

Google Home now offers kids games and homework help

As it had promised to do when it introduced the Google Home Mini earlier this month, Google has rolled out a variety of new kid-friendly features for its voice assistant. Saying "OK Google" can now summon 50 new experiences including an audio reading of classic fairy tales, help with homework and new voice-controlled Disney-themed games.

Trending: It's likely to be just the start of a new genre of content for smart speakers. PBS Kids digital chief Sara DeWitt told Axios her organization has been prototyping voice-based games. DeWitt says voice control has particular benefit for an audience that can't read or type.

"Suddenly we have a way for kids who can't read or write to communicate," she said.

Twitter pledges to share more details on political ads

Twitter announced Tuesday that it would increase transparency around ads tied to political candidates on the platform, along with more moderate disclosures for other ads.

Axios' David McCabe reports that, similar to Facebook, Twitter is responding to pressure from lawmakers concerned about the way Russian actors were able to buy ads focused on divisive political issues during the election.

The details:

  • Users will now be able to view all the ads running on Twitter (or that have already run) referring to candidates or their party. They'll be able to see how much that advertiser has spent on the platform, and details around how the ads are being targeted. The company will also apply "stricter requirements on who can serve these ads and limit targeting options" for advertisers running these types of ads, but was vague about what those would look like.
  • For now, the reforms will not cover ads focused on political issues — although the company says it wants to make changes there. That matters because one of the tactics that Russian operatives reportedly used was to run ads on divisive issues that didn't necessarily mention a candidate in 2016.
  • Users will also be able to see more information about all the non-political ads running on Twitter.
  • Twitter will begin to roll out the changes later this year.

The bigger picture: Facebook and Twitter have now both made a play at self-regulating political ads on their platforms. But it's not clear that will be enough to stop lawmakers like Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar and Republican Sen. John McCain from pushing a bill that would put new transparency requirements into law.

Indeed Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said that transparency is not enough and Klobuchar said Twitter's move was "no substitute for updating our laws."

Twitter says: "We look forward to engaging with Members of Congress and other key stakeholders on these issues as the legislative process continues," according to its blog post announcing the changes.

Take note

On tap: Broadband World Forum is taking place in Berlin.

Trading places: SurveyMonkey has hired DocuSign's Robin Ducot to be its CTO as the online survey firm looks to build on the new platform it announced in July...Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins is headed to Sony to lead TV efforts there and will be replaced at Hulu by Randy Freer, Recode reported.

ICYMI: For its second quarter, Sprint reported a net loss of $48 million, which is smaller than analysts expected as it added 279,000 wireless customers, Reuters reported. Still no word yet on the possible merger with rival T-Mobile...Auto parts maker Delphi is buying autonomous car startup NuTonomy for $400 aims to hold the largest-yet initial coin offering, topping FileCoin's $257 million offering in August...Uber is adding a "long pickup fee" as part of an effort to make rides more attractive where drivers have to go a distance before starting the ride; the question is how it will go over with riders...AMD returned to profitability driven by sales of its Ryzen processor, per VentureBeat...Apple acquired New Zealand-based wireless charging firm PowerbyProxi for an undisclosed sum...TechCrunch reports that Honolulu has given final approval to a law that fines pedestrians who are looking at their phones while crossing a street.

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