Alphabet Misses Q1 Earnings, Fitbit Gets Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications; Fidelity Will Allow Bitcoin in 401(k)s; Leak-Facebook Has Little Insight re How User Data HandledPosted: April 27, 2022
Alphabet whiffed as far as first quarter earnings, as noted in their earnings call yesterday. According to androidcentral.com, They hauled in $68.01 billion in revenue, which is under the $68.11 they were projected to hit. They were also down from the $75 billion the previous quarter (the holiday quarter though). That said, Q1 2022 is up 25% year over year. Also noted during the call, CEO Pichai noted how YouTube Shorts, the company’s TikTok competitor, accumulates 30 million daily views while viewers consume more than 700 million hours of YouTube content every day. Although They don’t release Pixel sales, Pichai said the Pixel 6 is the ‘fastest selling Pixel ever’ and he teased hardware announcements coming up in Google I/O next month. One is no doubt the Pixel Watch, a prototype of which was left in a restaurant…as we covered earlier this week.
After getting clearance from the FDA, Fitbit is rolling out irregular heart rhythm notifications on some of its devices. 9to5google.com reports that 9 Fitbit products, including the Sense and Charge 5 will passively send notifications when signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) are detected. The technology that powers these notifications on Fitbit is similar to what is used for electrocardiogram (ECG) readings but doesn’t require quite as much hardware. Rather, they rely on Fitbit’s PPG (photoplethysmography) algorithm, which the company claims is 98% effective at detecting these conditions compared to a traditional ECG machine.
By Summer, Fidelity is going to start allowing what they are calling legible individuals to invest up to 20% of their 401(k) in Bitcoin. According to theverge.com, employees will only be able to do this if their employer signs off on the option. Apparently, this is just a start of a dive into crypto. Fidelity head of workplace retirement offerings and platforms Dave Gray told the Wall St Journal they would add support for other cryptocurrencies at some point. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor has warned fiduciaries about offering options to invest in crypto, pointing out that this kind of investment presents “significant risks and challenges to participants’ retirement accounts, including significant risks of fraud, theft, and loss.”
Facebook is reportedly unable to account for much of the personal user data under its ownership, including what it is being used for and where it’s located, according to an internal report leaked to Motherboard. engadget.com says the report was put together by engineers on Facebook’s privacy engineers on its Ad and Business Product team last year. Facebook’s main obstacle to tracking down user data appears to be the company’s lack of “closed-form” systems, the report states. In other words, the company’s data systems have “open borders” that mix together first-party user data, third-party user data and sensitive data. A former Facebook employee who spoke anonymously to Motherboard said the question of where data goes inside the company is “broadly speaking, a complete shitshow.” A Facebook spokesperson denied to Motherboard that the company is not currently complying with privacy regulations.
TikTok Most Downloaded; $2.5 Million NFTs Stolen; Hawaiian Will Offer Free In-Flight Starlink; Internet Reaches 63% of HumansPosted: April 26, 2022
The winnah is….TikTok. The app was the #1 most downloaded app in the 1st quarter of this year. According to techcrunch.com, Sensor Tower has released its ‘Store Intelligence Data Digest’ report showing TikTok hitting 175 million downloads the first 3 months of 2022. TikTok has now passed 10 million downloads, over the past 9 quarters. For comparison, YouTube has passed 10 million downloads over the last 8 quarters. No app has had more downloads than TikTok since 2018, when WhatsApp racked up 250 million world downloads.
A hacker has snagged $2.5 million worth of Board Ape Yacht Club NFT’s. Cnet.com reports that the thief got into the NFT brand’s Instagram account and put up a link to a phony air drop, which would give existing Bored Ape holders a free allotment of land in the upcoming Otherside metaverse. But the link included in the post was a phising scam. People who opened it and connected their crypto wallet had their Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs stolen. OpenSea, the biggest NFT marketplace, has put a “suspicious activity” label on the stolen goods, but no one can actually stop the NFTs from being sold. The hacker has already offloaded several on LooksRare, another NFT marketplace. It sucks for the owners, but you have to kind of laugh at the thought of a virtual pawn shop or virtual fence taking stolen virtual property!
You may be one of the folks who can’t stand to not be either working or online surfing while flying. With most airlines charging fees to connect, I have chosen to do without. Now, zdnet.com says Hawaiian Airlines will offer free in-flight connectivity using Starlink. Starlink is a division of SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company. Hawaiian says installation in the aircraft will start next year. They say the service will be ‘seamless,’ and will not have registration or payment pages to access.
According to DataReportal’s new Digital 2022 April Global Aftershot report (in conjunction with We Are Social and Hootsuite), there are now more than 5 billion people on earth using the internet. That is 63% of all humanity online! Smartphones account for about 4 out of 5 of the mobile handsets in use now. As for social media, 4.65 billion is the user tally, which is 58.7% of the world population. If you leave out 13 years old and under (which is the age most social nets have for a lower limit), roughly 3/4 of the population uses social media. THAT is some kind of reach!
Musk-ization of Twitter; Owning in Metaverse; Pixel Watch Coming; iPhone AND Apple Watch May Get Emergency Sat ConnectivityPosted: April 25, 2022
Things could still fall apart, but on the other hand, by the time you read this, Elon Musk’s deal could be set to buy Twitter for $43 billion. Reuters.com reports that the board started working with him on the deal Sunday morning, and apparently they worked through the night. The board may already have recommended the $54.20 per share deal to shareholders…again, by the time you read this. Although the deal doesn’t contain a ‘go-shop’ allowing Twitter to fish for a better deal, if one came along, they could take it and pay Musk a break-up fee. Twitter was up 5.4% as these words are written. Musk, a prolific Twitter user, has said it needs to be taken private to grow and become a genuine platform for free speech. Critics believe he is more concerned with HIS free speech than that of any other users.
UPDATE (Well, that didn’t take long): https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-25/elon-musk-clinches-deal-to-take-twitter-private-for-44-billion?sref=HQB7G2wY&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_medium=social&utm_content=business
In an interesting piece from thenextweb.com, some thoughts for those purchasing items in the ‘metaverse.’ The article notes that you have to agree to the end user license agreement of the platform you are purchasing through. (Like anyone reads those purposefully impenetrable documents!) Unlike the blockchain itself, the terms of service for each metaverse platform are centralized and are under the complete control of a single company. This is extremely problematic for legal ownership.
The problem for buyers is that under the terms of service, the NFTs purchased and the digital goods received are almost never one and the same. NFTs exist on the blockchain. The land, goods and characters in the metaverse, on the other hand, exist on private servers running proprietary code with secured, inaccessible databases. Here’s an example from thenextweb article: ‘…one day you might own a $200,000 digital painting for your apartment in the metaverse, and the next day you may find yourself banned from the metaverse platform, and your painting, which was originally stored in its proprietary databases, deleted.
Strictly speaking, you would still own the NFT on the blockchain with its original identification code, but it is now functionally useless and financially worthless.’ In other words, caveat emptor….buyer beware!
Not just a leak…someone left what is apparently a prototype Pixel Watch in a restaurant in the US (the location of which is being withheld for now. Androidcentral.com says the watch has a minimalist design, with just a crown and one hidden button. It also sported proprietary Google bands. No charger was found, but it appears it may have Qi wireless charging. Rumors have Google announcing a watch at Google I/O next month. The watch didn’t fully boot up, but did get to a ‘G’ logo screen. The Pixel Watch will reportedly use and Exynos chipset when it drops.
According to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, the rumor that iPhone may be getting emergency satellite connectivity may be true, and could be in the phones this fall. Not only that, but the Apple WATCH might also get it…either this fall or in 2023. We have reported on this before, and need to stress that is isn’t making either into a satellite phone. The feature is for reporting emergencies or sending a short emergency text to emergency contacts when you are out of cellular range. It looks like the deal will be with Satellite operator Globalstar. In February, Globalstar said it reached an agreement to buy 17 new satellites to help power “continuous satellite services” for a “potential”—and unnamed—customer that had paid it hundreds of millions of dollars. Is that customer Apple? We’re probably less than six months from finding out.
Netflix Stock Takes Hit; More Musk & Twitter; Whole Foods Austin Getting Palm Scanning Tech; Google Shows Air Quality Now in US, India, & VictoriaPosted: April 20, 2022
At last check Netflix was down 37%, a big hit. Bloomberg reports that the drop is largely due to a loss in subscribers, the first drop in over 10 years. The platform has lost some 600,000 subscribers in the latest quarter. A couple reasons have been given for this. One, and most obvious, is that Netflix raised prices. Another reason, which has a number of subscribers hopping mad, is that Netflix is looking to introduce a lower price tier that includes ads. The lack of ads has been one thing that set Netflix apart from others like Hulu, Disney, and HBO. Netflix seems to be taking an ‘everybody’s doing it’ attitude. Analysts have noted lately that even Disney has seen big growth then loss of subscribers, and that subscriber ‘churn’ may just be becoming a fact of life of these entertainment platforms.
A number of articles are out, pundits are ‘punditing,’ and everyone is speculating on Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter…which after the board adapted a ‘poison pill,’ is widely expected to be turned down. Yahoo.com talked to Georgetown University Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Urska Velikonja. She pointed out that “It’s not actually a firm commitment to buy all shares of Twitter. It’s just, sort of, a notice that ‘I’m interested in buying all of Twitter.'”
The professor notes that one way Musk could make a deal and buy would involve partnering with financing sources like Apollo Global or Morgan Stanley…but that would delete his own power in running Twitter. He might not be willing to go for that. Another option involves a tender offer, where shareholders would be able to directly sell their stock to Musk at the price he offered. Again, there is a down side. First, Musk is limited by Tesla (as well as probably the SEC) in how much of that stock he could sell to get cash to buy the Twitter shares. Secondly, he could borrow against his Tesla stock, but again pledging stock would dilute his power over Tesla plus put him under the thumb to some degree to the lenders, Then, of course, the poison pill can push the cost up substantially.
In a comment that won’t thrill Musk, the professor said “This is, perhaps, a pastime for Elon Musk. It’s fun. He’s got nothing else to do. He loves Twitter, clearly, and he wishes Twitter were doing something else. So this is perhaps his way of doing so.”
Amazon’s One-Palm scanning tech is coming to Whole Foods Markets in Austin, Texas. Note, that this is NOT the full ‘just walk out’ tech. Cnet.com says it is adding one store now, and will add 6 more in the region in the near future. While it’s not just walk out, you can simply wave your hand over the palm reader, and won’t need to pull out a credit card, debit card, or cash to pay. Amazon One is already available in Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go locations in California, Colorado, New York, Texas and Washington, DC. The rollout in Austin will make it the second region where every store has the option of Amazon One, after the Seattle area.
Google has started showing AQI…air quality index info to Nest Hub and other Smart Display users. Now, you can search ‘air quality’ and check your current or other locations, in the US, India, and Victoria, Australia. According to 9to5google.com, Each entry can be expanded for a text description of what healthy conditions are and to see when it was last updated, as well as the specific provider. Apple’s weather app on the iPhone has shown AQI in the US for a while now, so expect Google to add the feature to its app on Android, and its widgets.
GPUs Back in Stock-and Cheaper; iPhone 14-Selfie Cam Upgrade; Apollo May Act as Lender in Twitter Takeover Bid; Sega Super Game ProjectPosted: April 19, 2022
They have been hard to find and carried premium pricing for white a while now, but at long last, Nvidia and AMD GPUs are getting back in stock, and the prices are falling. Theverge.com reports that some have dropped from $2505 last March down to $1569 now. Some were priced up double or triple list price, but the cards are down about 30% across the board in the last 3 months. Some are still commanding a $200 to $300 premium, but that’s a far cry from the last year or two. Gamers and coin miners will be looking to upgrade before long at these prices…albeit after they have recovered from the tax man’s bite!
The rear cams on phones get all the attention and glory, but a lot of people (we all know some, LOL) shoot tons of selfies with the front cam. Now, 9o5mac.com says Ming-Chi Kuo is expecting Apple to upgrade the selfie cams on all the upcoming iPhone 14 models. Quoting Kuo: ‘The front camera of four new iPhone 14 models in 2H22 would likely upgrade to AF (autofocus) & about f/1.9 aperture (vs. iPhone 13’s FF (fixed-focus) and f/2.2). AF support and a lower f-number can provide a better shallow depth-of-field effect for selfie/portrait mode. In addition, AF can also enhance the focus effect for FaceTime/video call/live streaming.’ Translated into non-camera geek language, that means you would get better Portrait and Cinematic shots, as well as better low light selfies. I’m expecting to see a flood of new selfies from the aforementioned selfie kings and queens a month or two after the iPhone 14 models hit this September!
Reports picked up by CNBC have Apollo Global Management in discussions about financing a potential takeover of Twitter. It isn’t clear that they are interested in backing Elon Musk’s proposed deal, but might do one with another suitor. They are apparently not interested in being a piece of a private equity consortium, but would want to be involved in the form of preferred equity. Considering the poison pill Twitter put in place last week, it looks pretty likely that the board will reject Musk’s offer.
Sega’s Super Game Project apparently has a big budget reboot of Crazy Taxi in the works…which might be out in the next 3 years. Engadget.com reports that the Super Game project involves a series of AAA titles leveraging cloud gaming and, deep sigh, NFTS. Late last year, Sega announced that it was teaming up with Microsoft’s Azure cloud division to help produce large-scale “global games.” In addition to Crazy Taxi, look for Sega to rework powered up versions of Jet Set Radio, Panzer Dragoon and Virtua Fighter.
How Twitter’s Edit Button Might Work; MS Looks to Bring Ads to Free-to-Play Xbox Games; Apple iPhone 15 Periscope Telephoto; Developer Shortage Due to Great ResignationPosted: April 18, 2022
A big noise made by Elon Musk as he bought stock in Twitter, then made a take over offer revolved around getting an edit button. Techcrunch.com reports that after Musk’s buy in and posting of a survey, Twitter admitted that it actually has been working on an Edit button for some time…and such a button has been a top request of users. Twitter had said that it was taking care to ensure the Edit button would not be able to be misused by bad actors looking to “alter the record of the public conversation” after the fact. Right now, the in-development button would be accessed by a three dot menu at the upper right of your tweet. From this menu today, you can do things like delete a tweet or pin it to your profile, among other things, so this would be a natural place to correct a tweet, as well. At least at this point, the button doesn’t seem to actually alter the tweet or delete it…it creates another, new tweet. This new, edited tweet would include the list of the old tweets prior to the edit. In other words, the new tweet would point to the original tweet and the edit history. Actually, to avoid a lot of misuse and abuse, it will almost have to do something like this in the finished feature.
Oh, joy…more ads. I can hear the excitement now. (Actually, I just hear Microsoft rubbing their collective hands together over more money coming in…) Redmond is working on a deal that would ‘let brands showcase advertisements’ within free-to-play Xbox games. According to theverge.com, the ads wouldn’t be allowed to disrupt the game…you would see an ad on a billboard in a racing game, for example. It sounds a lot like product placement in movies and TV shows, which big sponsors have paid for for decades now. Think of the Coke in a movie on the table, or a brand of cars that dominate a film. Microsoft claims it doesn’t plan to take any revenue from the ads, but they will be used to attract more developers to the platform. No revenue? If you believe that, I have a big orange bridge between San Francisco and Marin County to sell you. Look for the ads by third quarter this year.
It won’t be on the handsets this Fall, but next year’s iPhone 15 looks certain now to have a ‘periscope’ type telephoto lens, giving it a much higher optical zoom. Optical zoom gives you a much cleaner shot when zoomed in than the electronic zoom done by software. 9to5mac.com says that Apple is planning to use LG Innotek and Jahwa to supply its periscope lenses. The iPhone 13 has a 3X optical zoom, and 10X electronic zoom in. A folded periscope lens might give it 10X optical zoom, which as noted above, is much cleaner than the electronic zoom. If you use the telephoto lens as much as I do, this is welcome news. Looking forward to the iPhone 15 in 2023.
According to a new survey of 600 CIOs and IT decision makers by SalesForce’s MuleSoft, 93% of them are saying it is harder to hire skilled developers now due to the Great Resignation. Venturebeat.com notes that the survey also found 90% of organizations say empowering more individuals across the business to integrate apps and data for themselves would significantly reduce pressure on developers and accelerate transformation. As demand for faster innovation continues to rise, today’s skill shortage is piling pressure on already-stretched teams, creating the risk of developers tapping out — and leaving businesses’ infrastructure at heightened risk.
Meta AR Glasses Progress; Apple Delays AR Headset to 2023; Bosch Snaps Up Automated Driving Startup; Musk Hit With Class Action over Twitter BuyPosted: April 13, 2022
Despite delays and the lack of a wearable, working model, Meta is racing the clock to have Augmented Reality glasses on user faces by 2024…and a lighter more advanced version by 2026, THEN a third gen set by 2028. Theverge.com reports that the driving force is Mark Zuckerberg, who envisions AR glasses as something of a Facebook ‘iPhone moment’. Meta’s CEO also sees the devices as a way to get out from under the thumbs of Apple and Google. The AR push is called Project Nazare. They are projecting initial sales of AR headsets to be in the tens of thousands, but are shooting for the tens of millions by the end of the decade. It remains to be seen if a gadget that will no doubt sell for at least a couple thousand will hit those numbers, but thousand dollar phones are pretty common, so who knows?
On the topic of one of the above mentioned companies with heavy thumbs for Meta…namely, Apple….it appears that their mixed reality headset will not be appearing too soon. 9to5mac.com notes that both Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman have suggested the AR set would be out by late 2022, but a report from analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong International Securities says that the product may be delayed until the 1st quarter of 2023. It will run on an in-house designed chip, have 10 sensors, and an ‘innovative three-display configuration.’ Rumors are pointing to a wallet-crushing price of up to $3000. Apple thinks it will be able to sell a million to 1.5 million the first year.
You may not be familiar with Robert Bosch, but if you have owned or driven a European car, you probably have been in a vehicle that uses their parts. Bosch has made fuel injection pumps and electronics for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi, VW, and others. Now, zdnet.com says they have picked up automated driving startup Five. Bosch plans to fold Five into its already established autonomous driving project. Bosch had recently picked up digital maps firm Atlatec, and has deals with Baidu, AutoNavi, and NavInfo to develop ‘high-precision maps.’
Its not the first time Elon Musk has gotten crosswise with the SEC over stock disclosures, but now, a class action has been filed over his late disclosure of his Twitter stock acquisition. Engadget.com reports that a Twitter shareholder has filed the suit over Musk’s 11 day delay in reporting his buy to the SEC. Under securities law, Musk was required to file paperwork with the SEC by March 24th — 10 days after his stake in Twitter grew to 5 percent — but he didn’t do so until April 4th. That delay might not sound particularly significant, but it may have netted him as much as $156 million. According to the lawsuit, those gains came at the expense of other shareholders, who were not able to similarly profit. The suit alleges that shareholders were damaged by his delay, as it ‘artificially deflated’ prices. Of course, Musk has previously laughed to fines of millions, as he is worth over $200 billion…but the time it will take to mount a defense to this case and perhaps go to court will likely have more of an effect on him than any fine could.
Apple Watch-More Health, but Not BP Or Sugar Yet; Meta Blocking Private Home Info Sharing; Toyota’s 1st ‘Real’ EV; Honda Bets Big on EVsPosted: April 12, 2022
Apple Watch will apparently get both temperature monitoring, and some other health features, but still won’t have blood pressure or blood glucose monitoring this Fall, according to macrumors.com. Apparently, they have been testing the BP monitor on employees, but it isn’t accurate enough. All it does is report hypertension anyway…NOT the systolic and diastolic readings. The non-invasive glucose monitoring, which would be snapped up by millions of diabetics, is still several years off it appears. Apple Watch will get new sleep, fitness, and medication management features in the next edition.
It won’t keep you from being doxxed, but at least if someone does that, they won’t be able to put it on blast on Facebook or Instagram. Mashable.com reports that Meta will block posting of ‘publicly available addresses’ by the end of this year. The policy will not only apply to home addresses, but also photos of the exteriors of private homes. An exception will remain if the property is the ‘focus of a news story,’ or for those belonging to ‘high ranking officials’ (which usually aren’t privately owned by them anyway.)
Toyota’s first battery EV will be hitting dealerships later this spring, with a just revealed price point of $42,000. Engadget.com says the upcoming bZ4X SUV will have 252 miles of range on a charge. A limited trim model will run you $46,700. The vehicle is 3.7 inches longer than a RAV4, but is a couple inches shorter, for a sleeker, more aerodynamic look. It will come with a 6.6kW adapter which will take to full charge on a level 2 charger in 9 hours. Toyota will give buyers a year of free charges at all EVgo stations in the US, too.
After steering clear of EVs for a time and just building hybrids…with really only one EV model and one hydrogen one, Honda is finally going all in on EVs. We reported earlier on their deal with GM to produce EVs on a shared platform, in addition to Honda’s own platform. Now, thenextweb.com reports that Honda will plow $40 billion into EVs, battery production, and software development. They are planning on 30 new EV models by 2030! Before that, we should see two mid-to-large SUVs, the Prologue and Acura, both hitting US roads in 2024. At first, Honda will rely on both lithium ion and solid state batteries, but will move to solid state totally before the decade ends. They are planning a solid state battery plant to be up and running by spring of 2024.
Microsoft Targeted Messages; Apple WWDC & Mixed Reality Headset; Nissan Joins Solid State Battery Sweepstakes; Meta Turns to Qualcomm for Smart Glasses ChipsPosted: April 11, 2022
Here’s something no one asked for, that is apparently coming from Microsoft. Zdnet.com reports that they are planning to let IT administrators send targeted messages to Windows 11 desktops, right above the the taskbar! Yes, your boss and IT department can already feel your unbridled joy about this! No need to open the company email app or chat app now…you can be reached right from your desktop before you even so much as start opening apps or the browser to start your day. So…don’t forget to take that online corporate training that’s due in 2 weeks, ok?
**A friend who is a retired engineer from IBM points out that they were doing this with messages on mainframes over 30 years ago.
Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will be virtual for the third year in a row starting on June 6th. Expect major iOS and watchOS upgrades, and perhaps some new Macs. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman notes that Apple originally had big plans to use WWDC 2022 as the launch event for its long-in-the-works mixed-reality headset. Apple will likely announce that product at the end of this year or next year. Apparently, the beta versions of iOS 16 are jammed with references to the mixed reality headset. Apple will allow a limited number of people on campus for parts of the presentation, but the keynote and all the important presentations will again be prerecorded.
Nissan has unveiled a prototype production facility for solid-state batteries, a critical step in the automaker’s bid to develop and deliver an EV powered by the next-generation battery technology by 2028. According to techcrunch.com, Nissan is aiming to incorporate all-solid-state batteries in pickup trucks and other vehicles by 2030. Solid state battery tech look to make EVs as affordable as gasoline-powered vehicles by the end of the decade. General Motors, Stellantis, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, VW, and Toyota are all working on solid state batteries.
Meta’s plan to make its own chips for its Ray Ban smart glasses has been put on ice. The Information says that the company had decided to go with an alternative chip from Qualcomm, according to two people familiar with the matter. The custom chip would power a variety of functions, such as taking high-quality photos and videos, on the glasses. Meta’s augmented reality chief, Alex Himel, decided using it could delay the glasses’ launch, originally expected for next year.
GM & Honda Partner on EVs; WWDC Announced by Apple; Comcast Rolling out 6E WiFi Routers; Germany Busts Biggest Dark Web MarketplacePosted: April 6, 2022
General Motors and Honda have announced a partnership to co-develop affordable electric vehicles. According to techcrunch.com these vehicles should hit North America in 2027. The partnership centers around using the General Motors Ultium EV platform and both automakers’ heavy duty manufacturing capabilities. The exact terms of this partnership are not available at this time, and Honda is not specifying which vehicles will use GM’s Ultium EV platform or Honda’s own e:Architecture platform. This partnership is about scale. Together, Honda and GM have among the most robust manufacturing and distribution processes available and, depending on the exact terms, should be able to leverage these strengths to quickly and efficiently flood the market with EVs. Of great interest is their intent to get EVs out into people’s hands for $30,000 or less!
Comcast has announced that it’s starting to send out the xFi Advanced Gateway, a Wi-Fi 6E router the company announced at CES 2022, to customers that subscribe to Xfinity Internet Gigabit and Ultrafast plans. Until this point, many routers that support the new, higher bandwidth Wi-Fi standard have been far too expensive for most budgets (think $500 to $1,500, though there are now some in the $300 price range) — but Comcast’s is $14 per month, the company’s standard fee for equipment rental. Theverge.com says the new gateway includes built-in support for Zigbee, and Comcast has also said it will support Matter, a smart home standard slated to come out later this year. Comcast’s biggest pitch for the xFi Advanced Gateway is that it can handle traffic at faster-than-gigabit speeds.
WWDC 2022, the developer show from Apple, will start on June 6, and will again be almost entirely online. Appleinsider.com notes that the Monday keynote, when Apple usually discusses its biggest changes, will be a pre-recorded video stream, similar to the last two presentations. Though not a fully on-stage affair, expect Apple CEO Tim Cook introducing other executives to speak about Apple’s operating systems in an information-dense and slickly-produced video.After the keynote, Apple will be sharing updates via online sessions, with video presentations from key Apple employees. In addition to the online conference, Apple will be hosting a special day for developers and students at Apple Park on June 6, to watch the keynote and the State of the Union videos. Apple will be supplying details about applying for attendance via its Apple Developer site soon.
German federal police, working with US law enforcement have seized Hydra Market, billed as the world’s largest and longest-serving dark web marketplace. Engadget.com reports that it allegedly accounted for about 80 percent of all dark web-linked cryptocurrency transactions and had taken about $5.2 billion in crypto since 2015. It had roughly 17 million user accounts and 19,000 sellers. The seizure included both the servers and crypto wallets holding about $25 million in Bitcoin. This won’t stop dark web criminal operations, but it could disrupt them for a while, and might serve as a reminder that even the larger digital black markets can fold with little warning.