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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Broad U.S. antitrust action against Big Tech has moved firmly from the speculative realm to the investigative mode in the last 72 hours, as both Congress and regulatory agencies appeared to be moving forward with inquiries, Axios' David McCabe reports.
The big picture: While pressure on Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple has been mounting for years, the one-two punch of a public Congressional investigation into their dominance and possible antitrust probes by regulators marks a major escalation in tensions.
Driving the news: The House Judiciary Committee said yesterday that it was launching a bipartisan investigation into whether Big Tech platforms are engaged in monopolistic practices.
Between the lines: The investigation could help lawmakers develop a factual record to shape legislation overhauling the nation's antitrust laws, which reformers say are inadequate for reining in corporate power as it exists today.
The announcement followed reporting over the weekend and into Monday that the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission had split up the investigative field by tech giants, with DOJ getting Apple and Google and FTC getting Amazon and Facebook.
Why it matters: Of the many ways critics want to address concerns about Big Tech, antitrust action has always been among the most significant — although it was largely seen as the least likely route.
What we're watching: Congressional hearings on the issue will unfold in the coming months, and signs that DOJ and FTC are moving forward with formal investigations into the tech giants could leak out in the form of official inquiries sent to the companies or their competitors.
Our thought bubble: Once inquiries like this get started, they develop their own momentum even as they proceed at what feels like a leaden pace to tech insiders. These companies likely face years of entanglement.
Go deeper: Read David's full story here.
Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Two years ago, I was one of a handful of reporters as Apple SVP Phil Schiller and leaders of the Mac team disclosed their plan to scrap the existing Mac Pro in favor of an all-new design that was still at least a year away from readiness.
On Monday, the same reporters and Apple leaders gathered at WWDC to talk about the new Mac Pro and get the rest of the story.
Here are a few key takeaways:
1. That new Mac Pro was already a product with goals and a timeline when we met two years ago, though its design changed some and it took somewhat longer than Apple was anticipating.
2. Those cut-outs on the new computer's front — which some think are super cool and others think make it look like a cheese grater — are made by machining out spheres from the aluminum chassis of the Mac Pro.
3. Redesigning its display was front and center to Apple, which put a lot of time and energy into this.
4. Apple is planning a rack-mounted version of the Mac Pro. That model will use similar components and core design, but have a different chassis that goes around the core to make it better suited to a data center.
My thought bubble: Yes, these devices are extremely expensive and I too chafe at the notion of a $1,000 monitor stand. But the point here is the ambition of the product.
Meanwhile, here's a first look at that new Mac Pro (video).
Many of the changes coming to Apple's operating system this fall are nice-to-have tweaks rather than big, bold changes. However, the announcement of Sign In with Apple stands out.
Details: This service will work on Apple devices and on any website that adds Apple's button, letting consumers use their Apple ID as a means of authentication.
Why it matters: Apple's service is similar to ones already offered by Facebook and Google. But Sign In with Apple is making privacy an explicit feature and doing so in a way that will make it tough for Facebook and Google to compete.
What they're saying:
"We’re not really taking a shot at anybody. We focus on the user. And the user wants the ability to go across numerous properties on the web without being under surveillance. We’re moving privacy protections forward. And I actually think it’s a very reasonable request for people to make."— Tim Cook, to CBS
Tinder is adding several options to make it easier for people to describe their sexual orientation and find matches better suited to them.
Details: The update adds sexual orientation to Tinder's standard onboarding process and users can also choose up to 3 words to describe their sexual orientation in their profiles.
Why it matters: Sexuality and gender are complicated and many people say they have experienced either frustration, discrimination or both when using dating apps.
Between the lines: Tinder worked with GLAAD on the new options, as it did back in 2016, when it worked to improve the experience for transgender daters.
What they're saying:
Anyone can write "Wash me" on a dirty car, but it takes a true artist to do this.