Europe will require USB-C chargers. Apple isn’t happy
The European Union proposed new rules on Thursday that will make USB-C ports standard on smartphones, tablets, cameras, phones, portable speakers and handheld video game systems.The move is a setback for Apple (AAPL), which uses its own “Lightning” port on the iPhone. While the new rules are years away from coming into force, Apple could be compelled to make changes to its signature product.”European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now [the] time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger,” EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
“This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions,” she added.
EU citizens own three mobile phone chargers on average, according to the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. But 38% of consumers have not been able to charge their phone on at least one occasion because they didn’t have the correct charger to hand.Roughly €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) is spent annually on standalone chargers that do not come with electronic devices, according to the Commission.
European officials have been pushing the tech industry to standardize chargers for more than a decade. During that time, the number of mobile phone charging ports on the market has declined from 30 to three.
Apple said it would continue to “engage with stakeholders to help find a solution that protects consumer interest.””We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” the company added in a statement.
Stop making employees turn on webcams during meetings
The latest battle in office life may be over whether or not to keep the camera on during virtual meetings.One woman who works at a New York-based nonprofit told CNN Business she received an HR complaint in August for the first time in her career because she kept her camera off during virtual work meetings. Shortly after, she said she received another HR complaint for the same reason.
“I was on a call with about 15 employees and [the speaker] said everyone should have their camera on because it’s company policy and part of our culture now,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of company retaliation. She said she has long disliked being in front of a camera, whether it’s for pictures or videos, and the meetings only added to that discomfort. “I told them being on camera causes me anxiety and didn’t turn it on. I eventually got a doctor’s note.”
Although she is still required to keep her camera on, she now sits mostly out of frame with only her shoulder showing — something her company said is acceptable. But she feels this makes things even more awkward. She is currently looking for a new job.
She’s not alone in wrestling with the new normal of constant video calls. In interviews with CNN Business, several workers described how leaving the camera on in meetings made it harder to focus on their work, sparked feelings of frustration about having to stay in one place for long periods of time, and created some discomfort about broadcasting their living situations to others. Yet workers can also feel pressure to leave the camera on, whether it’s because of an explicit request from the company to do so, or because of the perception — refuted by one recent study — that they’re less productive and engaged if they have it off.
Cartoons and children’s shows are next on the chopping block in China’s entertainment crackdown
Comic and animation fans in China were in for a nasty shock this weekend as authorities turned their crackdown on the entertainment industry to yet another target.The National Radio and Television Administration, the country’s broadcasting authority, announced late Friday that it would ban cartoons and other TV shows primarily produced for children that contain any mention of violence, blood, vulgarity or pornography.TV channels must “resolutely resist bad plots,” and instead only broadcast “excellent cartoons with healthy content and promote truth, goodness and beauty,” said the authority in a statement on its website.
“Children and adolescents are the main audience groups of cartoons,” the authority said, adding that broadcast organizations should set up special TV channels for children that create a good environment for “the healthy growth of young people.”
The new regulation applies to all cartoons broadcast on television as well as those streamed online — and though the authority did not name any specific shows, networks wasted no time in enforcing it.
A pill to treat Covid-19: ‘We’re talking about a return to, maybe, normal life’
Within a day of testing positive for covid-19 in June, Miranda Kelly was sick enough to be scared. At 44, with diabetes and high blood pressure, Kelly, a certified nursing assistant, was having trouble breathing, symptoms serious enough to send her to the emergency room.When her husband, Joe, 46, fell ill with the virus, too, she really got worried, especially about their five teenagers at home: “I thought, ‘I hope to God we don’t wind up on ventilators. We have children. Who’s going to raise these kids?”But the Kellys, who live in Seattle, had agreed just after their diagnoses to join a clinical trial at the nearby Fred Hutch cancer research center that’s part of an international effort to test an antiviral treatment that could halt covid early in its course.
By the next day, the couple were taking four pills, twice a day. Though they weren’t told whether they had received an active medication or placebo, within a week, they said, their symptoms were better. Within two weeks, they had recovered.
“I don’t know if we got the treatment, but I kind of feel like we did,” Miranda Kelly said. “To have all these underlying conditions, I felt like the recovery was very quick.”
The Kellys have a role in developing what could be the world’s next chance to thwart covid: a short-term regimen of daily pills that can fight the virus early after diagnosis and conceivably prevent symptoms from developing after exposure.”Oral antivirals have the potential to not only curtail the duration of one’s covid-19 syndrome, but also have the potential to limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick,” said Timothy Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who has helped pioneer these therapies.Antivirals are already essential treatments for other viral infections, including hepatitis C and HIV. One of the best known is Tamiflu, the widely prescribed pill that can shorten the duration of influenza and reduce the risk of hospitalization if given quickly.The medications, developed to treat and prevent viral infections in people and animals, work differently depending on the type.
But they can be engineered to boost the immune system to fight infection, block receptors so viruses can’t enter healthy cells, or lower the amount of active virus in the body.At least three promising antivirals for covid are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter, said Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is overseeing antiviral development.”I think that we will have answers as to what these pills are capable of within the next several months,” Dieffenbach said.
China tells Tencent and Netease to focus less on profit as gaming crackdown expands
Chinese regulators have summoned companies to demand they play down profits and further clamp down on how minors can play video games, just days after children in the country were banned from access during the week.State-run news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday that authorities had called in firms, including industry leaders Tencent (TCEHY) and NetEase (NTES), to discuss restrictions around the streaming and playing of video games among minors.During the meeting, companies were “urged to break from the solitary focus of pursuing profit or attracting players and fans,” according to the report. They were also told to modify any rules or design elements of games that could be seen as “inducing addictions.”
The discussions included representatives from four government agencies: the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the National Press and Publication Administration, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, according to Xinhua.
“Companies failing to follow the requirements will be stringently punished,” the state news agency reported.
In a huge blow, judge rules Apple can’t force developers to exclusively use its App Store payment system
Apple can no longer prohibit app developers from directing users to payment options outside its App Store, a judge ruled on Friday. The decision, which followed a contentious court battle with the maker of the hugely popular Fortnite video game, is a major blow to Apple — but the company also scored a partial victory as the judge stopped short of calling it a monopoly.Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the US District Court in the Northern District of California ruled on Friday that Apple (AAPL) had violated California’s Unfair Competition Law by forcing Fortnite and its maker Epic Games to use Apple’s payment systems on the App Store, with the iPhone maker extracting a 30% commission on every in-app purchase in the process. She issued an injunction saying Apple can no longer prohibit developers from adding links within their apps to outside payment options; for example, alerting users to the option to pay for a subscription on a web browser, rather than through the app.But Gonzalez Rogers sided with Apple on the suit’s other claims and said she could not conclude that the iPhone maker is a monopoly.
“Given the trial record, the Court cannot ultimately conclude that Apple is a monopolist under either federal or state antitrust laws,” court documents read. “Success is not illegal. The final trial record did not include evidence of other critical factors, such as barriers to entry and conduct decreasing output or decreasing innovation in the relevant market.”
Facebook and Ray-Ban are rolling out smart glasses that actually look cool. Will anyone buy them?
On a sunny May day in 2012, Google cofounder Sergey Brin walked down King Street in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood with a pair of black, lens-free smart glasses on his face.He was trying out Google Glass about a month before the company publicly unveiled the device. But he wasn’t actually doing anything with it, because it was out of batteries. (I know, because I saw him walking down the street that day, and asked him.)Google Glass eventually flopped as a consumer product, with some wearers of the gadget dubbed “Glassholes” for the perceived creepiness of the device and its prism-shaped over-eye display. But it set the stage for years of wonderment and bewilderment about smart glasses: What should they look like? What will we do with them? And who even wants to wear them, anyway?
In the nearly a decade since, many tech companies (including Amazon, Bose, and Snap) have tried to answer these questions in different ways, but none have truly popularized the idea of smart eyewear. On Wednesday, Facebook became the latest to offer an attempt for public consumption: glasses called Ray-Ban Stories, created with Ray-Ban (the brand is owned by eyewear giant EssilorLuxottica). Facebook hopes they’ll be worn to take pictures and short videos, listen to music, and make phone calls, by anyone 13 or older.
Australian court says media companies are liable for comments on their Facebook pages
Media companies in Australia are liable for the comments that Facebook users post under their articles, the country’s highest court ruled this week. The decision could have widespread consequences for how Australian publishers interact with their readers on social media.The High Court of Australia on Wednesday dismissed an argument brought by three major news organizations, which contended that they could not be held responsible for comments that people posted on their Facebook (FB) news pages. The news outlets had appealed a lower court ruling.”The appellants’ attempt to portray themselves as passive and unwitting victims of Facebook’s functionality has an air of unreality,” the court wrote. “Having taken action to secure the commercial benefit of the Facebook functionality, the appellants bear the legal consequences.
The appeals court “was correct to hold that the acts of the appellants in facilitating, encouraging and thereby assisting the posting of comments by the third-party Facebook users rendered them publishers of those comments,” the High Court wrote.
iPhone users will no longer need to bring their IDs to the airport in these states
Apple has enlisted eight states in a program that allows people to “seamlessly and securely” add their driver’s license or state IDs to their Apple Wallet to use at airport security checkpoints.Arizona and Georgia are the first states to enroll in the program, with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah following soon. In a release Wednesday, Apple said the initiative is an “easy, fast, and more secure way” for people to present their IDs on their iPhone or Apple Watch to Transportation Security Administration officers.Apple (AAPL) didn’t say when the TSA program, which was first announced in June, will officially launch in these states.
To ensure it’s official, the user will have to take a selfie after uploading a picture of their driver’s license or state ID card. They will also be required to complete facial and head movements, similar to how Face ID is activated. The upload will be “securely provided” to the state for verification.
Once activated and approved, users can tap their iPhone or Apple Watch at the identity reader at the security checkpoint and the agent will see information required to fly. It works similarly to how people use the Wallet to make purchases at card readers.Of course, don’t leave your ID at home completely — you’ll still need it to fly home if you’re traveling to a state that’s not in the Apple program.
For security, Apple says the information on the IDs is “encrypted and protected against tampering and theft.” Biometric authentication is also used to ensure the proper person is using the phone or watch.