All Big Tech stories

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 13, 2021 - Technology

Google may have underpaid contractors for years

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google realized late last year that it may have been underpaying thousands of temporary workers around the world, but opted to initially change its pay structure only for newly hired temps, according to a pair of reports.

Why it matters: The revelation comes amid growing workplace activism at Google, including the formation of a minority union that advocates for temporary and contract workers along with full-time employees.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 11, 2021 - Technology

Why the 2020s will be the exponential decade

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Three new books take stock of the rapid technological change so far in the 21st century and ask whether we can adapt to the even faster change to come.

Why it matters: The 2020s could be the roaring or the raging decade, depending on whether political and social institutions can keep pace with the explosive transformation wrought by the tech sector.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 10, 2021 - Technology

Review: Ray-Ban Stories are stylish and just smart enough

Looking just at Ray-Ban Stories as a consumer product, minus the social questions, there is a lot to like, starting with the fact that they look just like regular Ray-Bans.

Between the lines: There are other glasses that are more capable, but Ray-Ban Stories are comfortable, stylish and work with prescription lenses while offering a few useful features. For me, the key selling point is the ability to take pictures without having to take out my phone.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 10, 2021 - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Facebook's eyebrow-raising Ray-Bans

Image: Facebook

Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth says a key goal of the company's new $299 smart glasses is to kickstart a societal conversation on the norms around such products. On that front, the company has already succeeded.

State of play: Coverage of the launch of the Ray-Ban Stories focused as much on privacy issues as on the product themselves.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 9, 2021 - Technology

Facebook, Ray-Ban debut picture-taking smart glasses

Image: Facebook

Ray-Ban Stories, the smart glasses being debuted by Facebook and Ray-Ban today, are most notable for just how much they look like a standard pair of the brand's sunglasses.

Why it matters: That speaks to both the most promising and troublesome aspect of the $299 glasses: They look and feel just like a standard pair of Ray-Bans while adding the ability to capture photos and video.

Sep 7, 2021 - Technology

Ford nabs Apple Car exec in hiring coup

Outline of a car. Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ford Motor Co. poached a senior Apple executive, Doug Field, to lead efforts to make its vehicles as smart and indispensable as the iPhone.

Why it matters: Legacy automakers like Ford need Silicon Valley's software prowess as they try to navigate a historic industrywide transformation. The electric, connected and automated cars of the future will be defined by software in the cloud — not the mechanical parts under the hood.

The intrigue: The hiring was seen as a coup for Ford and a blow to Apple, where Field had been a key player on the iPhone maker’s secret car project.

  • Rumors about the so-called Project Titan have swirled for years, but Apple has said little about the status of its automotive ambitions.
  • Field wouldn't touch the topic during a briefing with reporters.
  • "Apple doesn’t talk about new products, and I won’t talk about it either," he said. "Apple works on a lot of great things in total secrecy."

Details: In his new role, Field will be chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer, reporting to Ford President and CEO Jim Farley.

  • He will lead the development of a new cloud-based, connected-vehicle platform called Blue Oval Intelligence.
  • It will enable customers to continually update their cars with new features — as they do their phones — or to fix warranty problems without visiting a dealership.
  • And it will help create new revenue opportunities for Ford through cloud-based services that consumers want.

Background: Field is a boomerang Ford employee, having started his career there in 1987.

  • His career includes engineering responsibility for some of the world's most iconic products: the Segway scooter, Apple’s Mac computer hardware, and Tesla's Model 3.

What they're saying: "This is a watershed moment for our company — Doug has accomplished so much,” Farley told reporters. “This is just a monumental moment in time that we have now to really remake a 118-year-old company.”

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 3, 2021 - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

What to expect from the fall tech launches

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.

Sep 2, 2021 - World

Russia threatens to fine Apple, Google over Alexei Navalny app

Alexei Navalny appears on a screen during a court hearing in Petushki, Russia, in May 2021. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor threatened to fine Apple and Google on Thursday if the companies did not remove an app associated with jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, according to AP.

Why it matters: It's a continuation of Russia's crackdown on major tech companies that have been spaces for freedom of expression in the country and comes just weeks before the Sept. 19 parliamentary elections.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 1, 2021 - Technology

South Korea's new App Store law makes global waves

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers in South Korea have passed legislation to force Apple and Google to allow rival in-app payment mechanisms within their mobile operating systems.

Why it matters: While the legislation is limited to South Korea, lawmakers and regulators around the globe have also been weighing action on mobile app stores and could seek to force a similar move in other regions.

South Korea will be first country to curb Google, Apple app-store payments

Apple iPads at a store in Seoul, South Korea, in February 2021. Photo: Jean Chung/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Korean lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that will prevent Google and Apple from forcing software developers to use their payment systems for in-app purchases, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The bill, which will become the first law of its kind after it's signed by President Moon Jae-in, threatens to reduce Google and Apple's dominance over app developers and their access to commissions from in-app sales.