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2023-02-03 01:56:04| Engadget

TikTok is facing yet another call from a prominent lawmaker for the apps ban, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Apple and Google urging the companies to ban TikTok from their respective app stores.In the letter, Bennet says that TikTok, in its current form, [is] an unacceptable threat to the national security of the United States. The letter, addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, repeats many of the same points that have been raised by other lawmakers seeking to ban the app.Specifically, Bennet raises the possibility that TikToks parent company, ByteDance, could be compelled to use its influence to advance Chinese government interests, via TikTok. Like most social media platforms, TikTok collects vast and sophisticated data from its users, including faceprints and voiceprints, Bennet writes. Unlike most social media platforms, TikTok poses a unique concern because Chinese law obligates ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent company, to support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work.TikTok has long denied that such scenarios could play out, and has attempted to downplay its ties to China. In a statement to CNN the company said Bennets letter relies almost exclusively on misleading reporting about TikTok, the data we collect, and our data security controls.Apple and Google didnt immediately respond to requests for comment.While it seems unlikely either company would take such a drastic step based on a letter from one senator, it highlights the mounting pressure and scrutiny on TkTok. The company has spent the last two years negotiating with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in order to secure its ability to continue to operate in the US. But that process is reportedly stalled, and the company has been waging a new charm offensive in an attempt to win over critics.TikTok has also been sharing more details around its partnership with Oracle to safeguard US user data and comply with US regulators concerns. But lawmakers seem to be in no rush to let TikTok off the hook. The app has already been banned from federal devices, and numerous state governments have passed bans of their own. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify at his first Congressional hearing next month,

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 22:59:18| Engadget

As many Apple watchers have predicted, the company's financial results this quarter are a break from the last few years of nonstop growth. The iPhone maker reported a revenue of $117.2 billion for its first fiscal quarter (ended December 2022), which is five percent down year over year, marking the first time Apple's revenue is down since 2019. There are a couple of bright spots in the company's performance, namely in its setting a revenue record of $20.8 billion in its Services business and hitting more than 2 billion active devices in its installed base. In a statement, CEO Tim Cook said "As we all continue to navigate a challenging environment, we are proud to have our best lineup of products and services ever, and as always, we remain focused on the long term and are leading with our values in everything we do."Apple's decline in revenue is in line with a general slump in the tech industry, with Meta having just reported revenues that are 4 percent down from the previous year. Alphabet is also seeing a slowdown in growth this quarter, and while Microsoft saw its revenue climb, its earnings missed expectations and profits fell by 12 percent. Amid the economic downturn, tech companies havebeenlaying off significant portions of their workforce, though Apple doesn't appear to have made similar moves at the moment.The company is holding a call to go into detail about its financial results at 5pm ET / 2pm PT today, and we will update this post with any additional news and insight.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 22:26:30| Engadget

It's no secret that the huge tech companies are still making money hand over fist, but there's also a noticeable slowdown going on. Google's parent company Alphabet is not immune the company just reported its earnings results for Q4 of 2022, and just barely grew revenue year over year. The $76 billion the company pulled in during the quarter is up only one percent from Q4 of 2021. Google's ad business is the backbone of the company, and revenue slipped there by about 3.5 percent compared to a year ago. But eight percent growth in the "other" category (which includes products like Google and Nest hardware and revenue from the Play Store) and 32 percent yearly growth in in Google Cloud made up for those ad losses. Overall profits, meanwhile, dropped significantly: Quarterly net income of $13.6 billion is down 34 percent year-over-year.Of course, the backdrop for all this is that Google announced a few weeks ago that it is laying off about 12,000 employees; that makes up about six percent of the company's overall workforce. At the time those layoffs were announced, we didn't yet know what Google's financials for last quarter looked like, but now we can see that things are slowing down. That's all relatively speaking, though. Net income of $60 billion for 2022 as a whole was down significantly compared to the $76 billion in profit Alphabet made in 2021 but it's still far ahead of the $40 billion the company pulled in for 2020. It looks like the big numbers Alphabet posted in 2021 weren't exactly sustainable, and obviously we don't yet know what 2023 will bring. But we'll be tuning into the company's call with investors, which starts at 4:30PM ET, to see what additional details CEO Sundar Pichai can share about the state of Alphabet in the year to come.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 21:57:56| Engadget

Amazon's drone delivery program doesn't seem to be off to a great start. The Prime Air division was said to be hit hard by recent, widespread layoffs. Now, a new report indicates that Amazon's drones have made just a handful of deliveries in their first few weeks of operation.After nearly a decade of working on the program, Amazon said in December that it would start making deliveries by drone in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas. However, by the middle of January, as few as seven houses had received Amazon packages by drone, according to The Information: two in California and five in Texas.The report suggests that Amazon has been hamstrung by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is said to be blocking drones from flying over roads or people unless the company gets permission on a case-by-case basis. Although Amazon had touted its FAA certification, the agency imposed a string of restrictions, which hadn't been revealed until now. It has largely rejected Amazon's requests to loosen the limitations.One of the plans the FAA agreed to, according to the report, was for Amazon employees to check no cars were passing on surrounding roads before drones left its Lockeford delivery facility. That depot is on an industrial block, and the drones need to fly over at least one road before getting to any homes.Amazon's drones are far heavier than ones operated by Wing, as well as Walmarts partners Flytrex and Zipline. Those weigh between 10 and 40 pounds. Amazon's drone, on the other hand, weighs around 80 pounds and can only carry a five-pound payload. The report suggests the drone's mass could be causing concern among FAA officials. The agency has given Wing, Flytrex and Zipline permission to fly over roadways to date, Wing has carried out more than 300,000 deliveries.One other aspect that doesn't help Amazon's prospects is that folks who want to receive deliveries by drone need a backyard where packages can be dropped off so apartment dwellers need not apply. The drone can only carry a certain size of box and it dumps packages from 12 feet in the air, further limiting the types of products it can transport.We meet or exceed all safety standards and have obtained regulatory authorization to conduct commercial drone delivery operations," Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti told The Information. "We welcome the FAAs rigorous evaluations of our operation, and well continue to champion the significant role that regulators play to ensure all drone companies are achieving the right design, build and operating standards." Boschetti added that the Prime Air layoffs, which have reportedly slashed the size of the delivery teams at both locations by more than half, have not affected Amazon's plans for the test sites.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 21:43:54| Engadget

Starbucks Rewards members can now pay with Venmo. The payment services parent company, PayPal, announced the change today, saying customers can use Venmo accounts to load and auto-reload their Starbucks Card funds.PayPal says you can add your Venmo account in the Starbucks app or the Starbucks Card section of the companys website. Additionally, you can pay directly from Venmo after adding your account to the coffee chains app.The companies are running a promotion to entice you to try it. Until February 10th, Starbucks Rewards members will get 100 bonus Stars (perks for spending money there) by adding at least $15 from Venmo to their Starbucks Card. Alternatively, spending $15 or more using Venmo as a direct payment in the Starbucks app will also get you the bonus.This isnt the coffee chains first new partnership as it deals with recent slowdowns. It announced last month it was working with DoorDash to offer 95 percent of its in-store menu items through the delivery service. Unfortunately, it also pounced on the NFT bandwagon, launching an alternative rewards system using digital collectibles.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 21:02:05| Engadget

The science of grafting skin has come a long way from the days of scraping it off one part of a patient's body and slapping it back on somewhere else to cover a nasty burn or injury. These days grafts are commonly bioprinted like living inkjets using the patient's cultured cells to seed the growing process, down to the vascularization. The primary shortcoming of these printed grafts is that they can only be produced in flat sheets with open edges. This method "disregard[s] the fully enclosed geometry of human skin," argue a team of researchers from Columbia University. Instead, they've devised a novel means of producing skin in virtually any complex 3D shape they need from ears and elbows to entire hands printed like a pair of Buffalo Bill's mittens. Alberto Pappalardo and Hasan Erbil Abaci / Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and SurgeonsThe team published their findings, "Engineering edgeless human skin with enhanced biomechanical properties," in the January issue of Scientific Advances. They explained how they engineered, "the skin as a fully enclosed 3D tissue that can be shaped after a body part and seamlessly transplanted as a biological clothing."Three-dimensional skin constructs that can be transplanted as biological clothing would have many advantages, Dr. Hasan Erbil Abaci, lead researcher and assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University, said in a recent press release. They would dramatically minimize the need for suturing, reduce the length of surgeries, and improve aesthetic outcomes. What's more, these uniform grafts have shown superior performance, both mechanically and functionally, than their patchwork alternatives. The Columbia team has dubbed the grafts "wearable edgeless skin constructs" (WESCs). Ok, but can you eat them?The process of making these skin prosthetics isn't that far off from the existing techniques which result in flat slabs of skin. The transplant site is first scanned with a 3D laser to create a digital facsimile of the structure. That data is worked through a CAD program to generate a hollow wireframe of the appendige and then printed. This serves as the scaffolding on which the patient's cultured cells will grow. It's coated with skin fibroblasts and collagen then covered by an outer layer of keratinocytes (which make up the epidermis) and growth medium to feed the cells as they mature. As with making flat sheets, the entire process requires around three weeks for the cells to fully set up and be ready for transplant.Initial lab tests with mouse models were encouraging. It was like putting a pair of shorts on the mice, Abaci said. The entire surgery took about 10 minutes. Don't get too excited, mouse skin is not people skin. It heals differently enough that additional animal studies will be required before we start trying it on humans. Such tests are likely still years away. 

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 20:32:24| Engadget

Amazon told lawmakers it wouldnt build storm shelters in its warehouses after a December 2021 tornado killed six employees at an Illinois location. Although the company changed its severe-weather response strategy after the incident, it essentially told the elected officials that since building storm shelters isnt required by law, it wont do that.The company responded to lawmakers Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO), who sent a letter on December 15th, questioning the companys lack of storm shelters or safe rooms at its warehouses. Amazons apparent unwillingness to invest in a storm shelter or safe room at its Edwardsville facility is made even more concerning by the fact that installing one could be done by Amazon at relatively low cost, the lawmakers wrote. This cost is negligible for a company like Amazon, which brought in more than $500 billion in revenue over the 12-month period ending September 30, 2022 and clearly has the resources necessary to protect its workers should it have the will to do so.Company vice president of public policy Brian Huseman responded (via CNBC), Amazon requires that its buildings follow all applicable laws and building codes. We have not identified any jurisdiction in the United States that requires storm shelters or safe rooms for these types of facilities.Lawrence Bryant / reutersHuseman added that Amazon follows Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Weather Service guidelines and will continue using a severe weather assembly area for sheltering in place instead of the requested storm shelters. The six employees and contractors who died at the warehouse tried to protect themselves in a bathroom; the surviving workers took refuge in an assembly area.OSHA investigated the incident last April and ordered Amazon to review its severe weather policies, but it fell short of penalizing the company for its response. Additionally, Amazon hired a meteorologist, launched an internal center for monitoring severe weather and created emergency cards pointing out evacuation points and assembly areas.Amazon reportedly began rebuilding the warehouse last June. The families of two of the employees killed there have sued the company for wrongful death.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 18:45:10| Engadget

Razer announced its lightest gaming mouse today, the Viper Mini Signature Edition. It only weighs 49g, making it 16 percent lighter than the companys Viper V2 Pro and one of the most lightweight mice weve seen from a large company.The mouse uses a magnesium alloy exoskeleton with a semi-hollow interior (bearing a slight resemblance to the SteelSeries Aerox 3 Wireless). We wanted to push beyond the traditional honeycomb design, and this required a material with an outstanding strength-to-weight ratio, said Razers Head of Industrial Design, Charlie Bolton. After evaluating plastics, carbon fiber and even titanium, we ultimately chose magnesium alloy for its exceptional properties.RazerRazer says the mouse uses its fastest wireless tech and will be among its best-performing wireless mice. It includes the Razer Focus Pro 30K Optical Sensor, Optical Mouse Switches Gen-3 and HyperPolling Wireless with 4000Hz polling rates. Additionally, Razer says the mouses battery lasts up to 60 hours and can fully charge via USB-C in less than 90 minutes. It ships with a pre-paired USB dongle.The $280 mouse will be available exclusively on Razers website starting February 11th.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 18:13:31| Engadget

Most electric vehicles get upgrades to boost performance or range, but Antarctica's one and only EV has received a tune-up due to the realities of climate change. Venturi has revealed that it upgraded its Venturi Antarctica electric explorer early last year due to warmer conditions on the continent. The original machine was designed to operate in winter temperatures of -58F, but the southern polar region is now comparatively balmy at 14F and that affected both crews and performance.The company has added a ventilation system and air intakes to the front of the Antarctica to prevent overheating in the cockpit, while additional intakes keep the power electronics from cooking. Redesigned wheel sprockets were also necessary to maximize the tracked EV's capabilities. The warmer snow was sticking to the sprockets, creating vibrations as it compacted and hardened. Future upgrades will help restore range lost to changing snow consistency. The Antarctica is built to cover 31 miles, but scientists have been limiting that to 25 miles.Ars Technicanotes Venturi's EV has been in use at Belgium's Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Station since December 2021. It has two modest 80HP motors and just a 52.6kWh battery (plus an optional second pack), but raw power isn't the point. The design lets station residents perform research without contributing to emissions or polluting a relatively pristine region.You might not see Venturi make similar climate-related upgrades for a while. However, the refresh shows how global warming can affect transportation in subtle ways. Venturi and other manufacturers may have to design their next explorers on the assumption that Antarctica won't be as chilly as before.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-02-02 17:43:06| Engadget

Folks on the lookout for a new video doorbell or home security camera might be interested in checking out the latest sale on Arlo gear. You can snap up the devices for up to half off at the minute, with the Essential Wire-Free Video Doorbell seeing the biggest drop from $200 to $100.The doorbell, which you can plug in if you wish, offers a 180-degree wide field view and HD video with HDR. It captures video prior to motion-activated recordings, so you can see what caught the camera's attention (such as what someone was doing right before ringing the doorbell). You can speak to whoever's at your door from your phone thanks to two-way audio support. Alternatively, you can respond with quick reply prompts if you're busy. Arlo says the device is durable too, so it should be able to withstand the elements.The doorbell should play nicely with other smart home security devices, as it has Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung SmartThings support. Those who take out an Arlo Secure plan, meanwhile, will receive notifications when the doorbell detects people, vehicles, and packages.The sale also includes a wired version of the doorbell, which is 47 percent off at $80. A two-pack of the spotlight camera, which offers 1080p video capture and color night vision without the need for a hub, will run you $160 (31 percent off). Meanwhile, an indoor camera with a privacy shield is $30 off at $70.Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

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