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Genius Plaza CEO Ana Roca Castrol. Photo: Brook Todd for Early Futures
Even as some in Silicon Valley circles try to keep their kids away from smartphones and other technology, many others believe kids' exposure to devices is inevitable and our job is to make sure that they learn and stay healthy along the way.
Driving the news: At a conference in San Jose this week, experts in early childhood education compared notes on what is and isn't working in the field. The Early Futures conference brought together everyone from startups to established pioneers including representatives from Head Start and Sesame Workshop.
The bottom line: The consensus was that while technology for technology's sake was the wrong approach, so too is trying to stick to the old way of doing things.
"While there has been a lot of innovation, it is also clear we need new solutions."— Isabelle Hau, event organizer and investment partner at Omidyar Network
What we're seeing: There were plenty of proposed solutions at the conference, including...
1. Genius Plaza, a Miami-based company that offers digital tools aimed to serve today's multicultural classrooms.
2. Khan Academy Kids: Though best known for its online tools for older students and adults, Khan Academy has a 2-year-old effort geared toward offering free educational tools for the younger set.
3. Cognitive ToyBox aims to change the way early childhood assessments are done, transforming what has been a tedious task involving hours of work for teachers into an automated process where kids play games for as little as 5 minutes each.
Between the lines: Sesame Workshop COO Steve Youngwood says it's not really a debate over whether kids will learn from smartphones but what they will learn.
Another topic discussed is that technology is needed to deal with the fact that there just aren't enough qualified teachers, especially globally.
Microsoft HoloLens. Photo: Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images
Microsoft's deal to sell as many as 100,000 of its mixed reality headsets to the U.S. Army represents a huge win for the fledgling HoloLens project.
Yes, but: The fact that Microsoft is selling the devices to the Army for use in combat could cause headaches for the company, which has already faced opposition internally to its work with the U.S. government.
The big picture: Deals between tech companies and the U.S. military are common but have become increasingly controversial, as employees raise questions about the ethics of applying advanced technology to warfare.
The bottom line: Microsoft made clear last month that it planned to continue with its work with the U.S. government.
"We believe that the people who defend our country need and deserve our support," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post. "To withdraw from this market is to reduce our opportunity to engage in the public debate about how new technologies can best be used in a responsible way."
What they're saying:
The iPhone XR was released in October for $749. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images.
An Apple executive said Wednesday that Apple's mid-range iPhone XR has been outselling other models — including each of its high-end siblings, the iPhone XS and XS Max — since the XR went on sale in October, CNET reports.
Why it matters: Apple watchers have expressed concerns that the XR wasn't selling well. So this could be some relief on that front.
The real proof will be when Apple has to report financial results for the holiday quarter. Although Apple has said it will no longer break out iPhone unit sales, it should be clear from overall revenue whether sales lived up to expectations.
Facebook said Thursday that it will no longer include promoted content from news publishers on Facebook in its political ads archive in the U.S. beginning next year.
Why it matters: Publishers loudly protested the policy when it was introduced last spring. News companies argued that the articles they promote on Facebook shouldn't be publicly archived because marketing news is not the same as influencing an agenda via political advertising.
Go deeper: Axios' Sara Fischer has more here.
Now you can play Doom using only a Webcam as a controller.