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  • Windows 11 gets an update for the better experience of Android users
    by (Unknown) on September 27, 2021 at 6:14 am

    Your Phone software by Microsoft, which serves as a bridge between Android devices and Windows 10, is all set to get a makeover for Windows 11.While things do not seem to have changed dramatically like new functionality is on the cards in the short term, we know a bit into the app at Microsoft’s recent Surface event as it still reminds us of its existence.Your Phone app, too, gets a new look as do the other apps updated for Windows 11, with softer set of colors and rounded corners. However, it’s in the interface where the real improvement lies.If you go into the app right now, you’ll see separate sections for Notifications, Messages, Calls. Also, Apps if you own a supported Samsung device or a Surface Duo. With the new version, XDA Developers spotted that notifications now feature along the left-hand side of the app, with can respond directly from your desktop or laptop.Other items to have been relocated are Messages, Photos, Apps and Calls that now appear at the top of the screen. The now little less cluttered look should make the app a bit more accessible to newcomers. Although, it can be a bit confusing to those who have got used to the current layout.From this brief glimpse it’s encouraging to see that the app hasn’t been forgotten about even if it doesn’t get so many changes, and while it’s understandably not as impressive as the synergy between iPhones and Macs (where things like iMessage and Photos are always in perfect sync), it’s still useful for those that spread their working life across form factors.And with Microsoft fully on board with Android, having waved the white flag on Windows Phone some time ago, a lot more people can benefit.Is it necessary?Many have reportedly said they installed the Your Phone software for Windows 10 upon release, but haven’t booted it up again since. Why? Because the stuff they thought they needed it for already has perfectly good systems in place.But for some it will prove invaluable, and that — combined with the upcoming Android app support for Windows 11 — makes Microsoft’s OS a natural home for Android users.Microsoft Windows 11 will be released on October 5 as a free upgrade to Windows 10, but the rollout is going to be staggered, so don’t expect to see it on your screen immediately unless you buy a new device — such as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 8, Surface Pro X, Surface Go 3 or the innovative new Surface Laptop Studio.

  • WhatsApp will stop working on some Android phones
    by (Unknown) on September 27, 2021 at 4:14 am

    Another year is about to end in the next three months, which means there is another cycle of WhatsApp’s end of support for some Android smartphones and iPhones. After November 1, 2021, the messaging app will not work on some of the Android versions. WhatsApp is used to removing the support for specific Android versions. This is a common technique because developers always prefer to support the newest OS updates, and it’s hard to always support old versions. It’s the case of Android OS 4.0.4 and older versions: WhatsApp has announced that they will no longer support Android phones running those versions after a new WhatsApp beta for Android update.What can you do to continue using WhatsApp on those versions? Unfortunately, you won’t be able to update WhatsApp after November 1, 2021, and your current WhatsApp update is going to expire after a certain date.You need to switch to a new Android device on a supported Android version if your device is old, so be sure to back up your chat history. Note that WhatsApp is also going to support chat history migration from Android to iOS in a future update if you’re interested to switch to iPhone.

  • How a plant virus could help stop cancers from reaching the lungs
    by (Unknown) on September 25, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Using a virus that grows in black-eyed pea plants, nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego developed a new treatment that could keep metastatic cancers at bay from the lungs.The treatment not only slowed tumor growth in the lungs of mice with either metastatic breast cancer or melanoma, it also prevented or drastically minimized the spread of these cancers to the lungs of healthy mice that were challenged with the disease.The research was published Sept. 14 in the journal Advanced Science.Cancer spread to the lungs is one of the most common forms of metastasis in various cancers. Once there, it is extremely deadly and difficult to treat.Researchers at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering developed an experimental treatment that combats this spread. It involves a bodily injection of a plant virus called the cowpea mosaic virus. The virus is harmless to animals and humans, but it still registers as a foreign invader, thus triggering an immune response that could make the body more effective at fighting cancer.The idea is to use the plant virus to help the body’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells in the lungs. The virus itself is not infectious in our bodies, but it has all these danger signals that alarm immune cells to go into attack mode and search for a pathogen, said Nicole Steinmetz, professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and director of the university’s Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering.To draw this immune response to lung tumors, Steinmetz’s lab engineered nanoparticles made from the cowpea mosaic virus to target a protein in the lungs. The protein, called S100A9, is expressed and secreted by immune cells that help fight infection in the lungs. And there is another reason that motivated Steinmetz’s team to target this protein: overexpression of S100A9 has been observed to play a role in tumor growth and spread.“For our immunotherapy to work in the setting of lung metastasis, we need to target our nanoparticles to the lung,” said Steinmetz. “Therefore, we created these plant virus nanoparticles to home in on the lungs by making use of S100A9 as the target protein. Within the lung, the nanoparticles recruit immune cells so that the tumors don’t take.”“Because these nanoparticles tend to localize in the lungs, they can change the tumor microenvironment there to become more adept at fighting off cancer — not just established tumors, but future tumors as well,” said Eric Chung, a bioengineering Ph.D. student in Steinmetz’s lab who is one of the co-first authors on the paper.To make the nanoparticles, the researchers grew black-eyed pea plants in the lab, infected them with cowpea mosaic virus, and harvested the virus in the form of ball-shaped nanoparticles. They then attached S100A9-targeting molecules to the surfaces of the particles.The researchers performed both prevention and treatment studies. In the prevention studies, they first injected the plant virus nanoparticles into the bloodstreams of healthy mice, and then later injected either triple negative breast cancer or melanoma cells in these mice. Treated mice showed a dramatic reduction in the cancers spreading to their lungs compared to untreated mice.In the treatment studies, the researchers administered the nanoparticles to mice with metastatic tumor in their lungs. These mice exhibited smaller lung tumors and survived longer than untreated mice.What’s remarkable about these results, the researchers point out, is that they show efficacy against extremely aggressive cancer cell lines. “So any change in survival or lung metastasis is pretty striking,” said Chung. “And the fact that we get the level of prevention that we do is really, really amazing.”Steinmetz envisions that such a treatment could be especially helpful to patients after they have had a cancerous tumor removed. “It wouldn’t be meant as an injection that’s given to everyone to prevent lung tumors. Rather, it would be given to patients who are at high risk of their tumors growing back as a metastatic disease, which often manifests in the lung. This would offer their lungs protection against cancer metastasis,” she said.Before the new treatment can reach that stage, the researchers need to do more detailed immunotoxicity and pharmacology studies. Future studies will also explore combining this with other treatments such as chemotherapy, checkpoint drugs or radiation.Paper: “S100A9-Targeted Cowpea Mosaic Virus as a Prophylactic and Therapeutic Immunotherapy Against Metastatic Breast Cancer and Melanoma.” In addition to Young Hun (Eric) Chung, co-first authors of the study include Jooneon Park and Hui Cai. Nicole Steinmetz serves as the corresponding author of this work.

  • New tech to prevent Li-ion battery fires
    by (Unknown) on September 25, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    Materials scientists from Nanyang Technological University Singapore have found a way to prevent internal short-circuits, the main cause of fires in Li-ion batteries.Billions of Li-ion batteries are produced annually for use in mobile phones, laptops, personal mobile devices, and the huge battery packs of electric vehicles and aircraft.This global battery demand is set to grow, with electric vehicles alone requiring up to 2,700 GWh worth of Li-ion batteries a year by 2030, equivalent to some 225 billion mobile phone batteries.Even with an estimated failure rate of less than one-in-a-million, in 2020 there were 26 power-assisted bicycle (PAB) fires and 42 cases of personal mobility device fires in Singapore.In most Li-ion battery fires, the cause is due to a build-up of lithium deposits known as dendrites (tiny wire-like tendrils) that cross the separator between the positive (cathode) and negative (anode) electrodes of the battery when it is being charged, causing a short-circuit leading to an uncontrolled chemical fire.To prevent such battery fires, NTU scientists invented a patent-pending “anti-short layer” that can be easily added inside a Li-ion battery, preventing any future short-circuits from occurring during the charging process.This concept is akin to adding a slice of cheese to a hamburger’s meat patty in between the buns, thus the new “anti-short layer” can be rapidly adopted in current battery manufacturing.The post New tech to prevent Li-ion battery fires appeared first on ARY NEWS.from ScienceTechnology – ARY NEWS

  • Here’s how you can upgrade to Windows 11 early
    by (Unknown) on September 25, 2021 at 7:14 am

    Microsoft will begin rolling out Windows 11 on October 5.  However, the company has finalised the new version and released it to its Release Preview channel.You can switch to the Release Preview in Windows 10 and get the free Windows 11 upgrade early.Here’s how you can get the free Windows 11 upgrade:First you need to see if your PC is compatible with Windows 11 using Microsoft’s PC Health App (download here).If your PC is compatible, you will have to register as a Windows Insider at Microsoft’s site to get the upgrade early.On the existing 10 PC, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider ProgramClick the “Get Started” button and link the Microsoft account you used to sign up to be a Windows InsiderSelect the Release Preview ring when asked to pick your Insider settingsAgree to Microsoft terms and then reboot your computerGo to Settings > Update & Security, and you will see a new banner with the option update to Windows 11Download and install option and follow the prompts to get the new operating system earlyAfter upgrading to Windows 11, you can then go to Settings > Windows Update and select “Stop getting preview builds” to unenroll from the preview updates for Windows 11 and remain on the final version.The post Here’s how you can upgrade to Windows 11 early appeared first on ARY NEWS.from ScienceTechnology – ARY NEWS

  • The US is about to kick-start its controversial covid booster campaign
    by Charlotte Jee on September 24, 2021 at 10:08 am

    The news: The White House is set to kick off its booster shot campaign today, after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky overruled her own agency’s advisors in favor of recommending third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for frontline workers. Who gets it: There are three groups of Americans now eligible for…

  • 2021 has broken the record for zero-day hacking attacks
    by Patrick Howell O’Neill on September 23, 2021 at 10:00 am

    A zero-day exploit—a way to launch a cyberattack via a previously unknown vulnerability—is just about the most valuable thing a hacker can possess. These exploits can carry price tags north of $1 million on the open market. And this year, cybersecurity defenders have caught the highest number ever, according to multiple databases, researchers, and cybersecurity…

  • The US is unfairly targeting Chinese scientists over industrial spying, says report
    by Eileen Guo on September 21, 2021 at 4:41 pm

    For years, civil rights groups have accused the US Department of Justice of racial profiling against scientists of Chinese descent. Today, a new report provides data that may quantify some of their claims.  The study, published by the Committee of 100, an association of prominent Chinese-American civic leaders, found that individuals of Chinese heritage were…

  • How these US schools reopened without sparking a covid outbreak
    by Betsy Ladyzhets on September 21, 2021 at 3:50 pm

    A version of this story was originally published at the COVID-19 Data Dispatch. It’s impossible to overstate how controversial school reopening has become in the US this past year. After a spring of universal Zoom school, opinions diverged: some administrators, parents, and scientists pushed to get kids back in classrooms, while others lobbied for covid…

  • Securing the energy revolution and IoT future
    by Leo Simonovich on September 21, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    In early 2021, Americans living on the East Coast got a sharp lesson on the growing importance of cybersecurity in the energy industry. A ransomware attack hit the company that operates the Colonial Pipeline—the major infrastructure artery that carries almost half of all liquid fuels from the Gulf Coast to the eastern United States. Knowing…

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  • Elder-friendly technology is a growing market
    by Luke Winkie on September 24, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Do older people needed their own dedicated devices? | Westend61/Getty Images As boomers age, a new crop of iPads and Alexas are popping up. Are they necessary? In the grim pits of 2020, ElliQ recited a poem to 81-year-old Deanna Dezern. Dezern doesn’t remember what the poem was called or who wrote it, but she says that thematically, it was about persistence and determination — qualities that resonate during a world-altering pandemic. Dezern needed reassurance; she’d spent the last year cocooned alone in her Florida home, and as the weeks turned into months, she fell into a foggy depression. Thankfully, robots cannot transmit Covid-19, which made ElliQ a perfect ally to ride out the storm. “The poem said, ‘You can do it, just keep trying,’” Dezern continued. “ElliQ was always where I left her. She said soothing things to me. She was always ready to talk to me when nobody was around. I don’t know how to describe it. She was there for me in the way that I needed her.” ElliQ, as you can probably infer by now, is an AI companion designed for seniors by the Israeli tech company Intuition Robotics. Think of it as an Alexa for older folks: ElliQ looks a bit like the mid-century lamp from the Pixar movies, and she can read the news, stream music, and share weather reports, all from her perch on a coffee table or kitchen counter. But the core appeal, and the way Intuition hopes to position itself as a major player in the burgeoning elderly-oriented tech sector, is ElliQ’s empathy. It is impossible to teach a robot how to love, but ElliQ can encourage people to take their meds, to practice mindful meditation, or, in Dezern’s case, to simply be present and absorb the quiet, empty nights of retirement. That’s the guiding philosophy at Intuition Robotics; ElliQ possesses a gentle, caregiving patience that neither Apple, Google, nor any other power broker in Silicon Valley prioritizes in its products for the general public. View this post on Instagram A post shared by ElliQ (@elliqsidekick) “ElliQ doesn’t say, ‘Would you like to listen to music?’ She says, ‘Would you like to listen to music together?’ ‘Do you want to play a game together?’ You establish trust. We want to move from doing things for someone to doing things together,” Dor Skuler, CEO and co-founder of Intuition, said in a Zoom call with Vox. “What’s unique about the senior population is that we think they’ll be early adopters of this technology. … Humans are social beings, and unfortunately, many elders are deprived of that in our society. In a weird way, they might embrace this new kind of relationship.” Intuition Robotics isn’t the only company trying to tap into the geriatric market. Assistive tech might be a social good, but it isn’t a public good, and there’s a reason capital firms are trying to get in on the ground floor. “They’ve waited for the aging of the baby boomers, the oldest of whom are now 76,” said Laurie Orlov, a digital-industry analyst who runs the website Aging and Health Technology Watch. “And baby boomers have all the money. The tech industry understands that money talks. It’s time to pay attention.” The executives I spoke to did not shy away from Orlov’s conclusions. In fact, Skuler believes that more entrepreneurs should investigate the potential upside of a successful slate of senior tech. “This sector is underinvested in a significant way,” he said, “considering the available spending within this population.” One of the first personal tech devices marketed toward seniors was the Jitterbug phone. It arrived in 2005, right as smartphone mania started to sweep the country, bearing a simple, tactile layout. The blueprint made sense. For those confused by the rising touchscreen tide, and for grandparents who just wanted to call their family and never concern themselves with the app store, here was a flip phone completely divorced from all 21st-century design trends. The Jitterbug was intentionally spartan — equipped with a dial, a clock, and a speaker button, and nothing more. And yet its popularity revealed one of the more anxious truths of the digital revolution. Between the Cloud, the algorithms, and the litany of icons splayed across our home screens, the rules of living had changed so much in the previous decade. Suddenly, technology as familiar as the telephone became extraordinarily complicated, and we worried whether America’s golden-agers could ever catch up. One of the people trying to solve that problem is Scott Lien, a former Intuit executive who became an advocate for elder accessibility in 2014 after feeling increasingly “digitally disconnected” from his octogenarian mother in Iowa. “We tried to do video calls over Skype, and that just frustrated her,” he said. “I thought, ‘What if we designed something from scratch based on the unique needs of the typical 80-year-old?’” Shortly afterward, Lien broke ground on his GrandPad line of software, which aims to deliver a simple tablet without any complexities getting in the way. The GrandPad comes preloaded with bingo, solitaire, and sudoku. There’s a jukebox that plays a slew of past hits (available genres include big band, classical, and ’40s,) as well as photo albums, address books, and video call functionality. All of this is presented onscreen with supersized text and large, primary-color buttons. Lien told me he and the GrandPad team actively collaborate with senior consultants to further refine the tablet’s architecture. To build a device for older folks, he said, one must be in active communication with those who know what it’s like to age. View this post on Instagram A post shared by GrandPad (@grandpad_social) “We had a woman named Anna helping us who was 114 years old. You learn some really interesting things from them. Anna told us about the dry skin issue. Once you hit your 90s, your skin gets really dry, papery, and leathery. Us younger guys have moisture in our skin, and that’s what makes touchscreens work,” Lien explained. “We changed the screen properties, and we include a stylus in all the packages.” Of course, the average elderly technology user isn’t 114, and Orlov, the digital-industry analyst, believes the hackneyed image you or I might have of the typical senior — an old man befuddled and annoyed, trying to fire up a Zoom call — is out of date. The AARP reported in 2020 that more than 51 percent of people over the age of 50 purchased some sort of tech product, be it an iPad, a laptop, or a wifi-enabled television, within the previous year. In fact, AARP’s research also found that 62 percent of Americans over the age of 70 own and use a smartphone. Those findings draw a strong contrast to a project like GrandPad, which is saddled with an interface that’s significantly scaled back compared to the Apple estate. Obviously, GrandPad and ElliQ are targeting a customer who’s considerably older and more alienated from cyberspace than the typical prime boomer, but it does make you wonder whether we’re underestimating just how commonplace tech literacy has become in our culture. “I think technology that has been simplified to the point where you can’t really access anything is a dwindling market,” said Orlov. Lien pushes back on that front. He believes studies, such as AARP’s, are skewed by selection bias. “It doesn’t work for this age group. They randomly call 1,000 people, and the people who are in a nursing home and don’t have a phone obviously can’t pick up,” he said. GrandPad published its own research two years ago. The company, which traveled directly to the homes of 60 people over the age of 75, found that only 8 percent of them knew how to fire up a video call. It gets to Lien’s overarching thesis: An elder might own a smartphone, but they might not know how to use it effectively. This is particularly relevant given the conditions of 2020 and the massive proliferation of fraud the year brought with it. TechCrunch reported an 18 percent increase in spam calls during the pandemic, many of which disproportionately targeted the geriatric population. “It was catastrophic during Covid. With my mother and mother-in-law, when she got a suspicious phone call, she’d wait for me to come around so I could say, ‘Yeah Mom, that’s a scam.’ But in lockdown, when they couldn’t have their families around them, it only got worse,” Lien said. “At GrandPad, we have what’s called a circle of trust. Only the family or caregivers are invited to it, and only they can call, video call, or share photos with grandma.” Tom Kamber, founder and executive director of the advocacy organization Older Adults Technology Services and Senior Planet, notes that he too has noticed an uptick in scams targeting older adults, particularly among the Spanish-speaking population. He believes the power brokers in technology often regard the elderly as another vague checkpoint in a superficial pursuit of diversity. To truly protect the vulnerable, he argues, the retiree population ought to be considered at every step in the value chain. “People talk about inclusive design, and so often that means that when they’re done making something they test it with some older folks, and they say they’re being inclusive. It doesn’t work that way,” Kamber said. “The whole process of ideation and design and marketing and distribution, all of those pieces are crucial to having older adults using the technology well. If you engage with them throughout the whole process, you’re going to get a product that’s more usable, which makes people less vulnerable.” Both of these perspectives are sound. I think we all wish we could fend off the bad actors who want to do harm to our loved ones, especially older relatives who come to the digital world as total novices. And yet I came away from this story wondering if people in my generation, all of us highly concerned 30-somethings, have been too eager to infantilize our elders. The internet is overwhelming and rife with danger, but we’ve all been forced to parse it one way or another. A preventative approach — this desire to keep our mothers and fathers insulated in an uncanny parallel dimension, filled with quasi-iPads, quasi-iPhones, and quasi-Alexas to shield them from reality — seems to miss the point. As Kamber said, surely we can inherit an internet that is safe and empowering for all users, if only we spend a little more time to consider the vast swath of humanity that is using modern technology. Riley Gibson, president of Silvernest, feels the same way. Silvernest is a roommate-matching service designed for people around retirement age. The company’s specialty is seniors in the middle of a huge life change — a divorce, a widowing, a cross-country move — who don’t want to enter the next chapter alone in an empty house. Every Silicon Valley startup intends for its customers to wield technology and better their lives, but rarely has that same wondrous possibility been presented to the nation’s elders. Gibson says Silvernest has found the lion’s share of its clients through Facebook ads, because whether we like it or not, older folks are very much online in the same way we are. Entrepreneurs ought to consider that truth more often, Gibson argues. Maybe we should be optimistic as we watch Grandma and Grandpa organize their home screens. “[Some companies] are designing for someone [who] needs their help. This mindset that we need to save our seniors from technology,” Gibson said. “Let’s take a broader look at how people above the age of 65 use technology. Let’s design for a hero’s journey. None of us want to feel designed down to. We need to realize that people might have more interests, or more ambition, for technology to enable them rather than fix them.”

  • The real stakes of Apple’s battle over remote work
    by Shirin Ghaffary on September 24, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Apple’s resistance to full-time remote work has sparked an unprecedented battle with employees. | Sam Hall/Bloomberg via Getty Images Inside the unexpected fight that’s dividing the most valuable company in the world. For the past several months, a fight has been brewing inside Apple, the world’s most profitable company, about a fundamental aspect of its business: whether its corporate employees must return to the office. Apple expects employees to return to their desks at least three days a week when its offices reopen. And although the Covid-19 delta variant has made it unclear exactly when that will be, Apple’s normally heads-down employees are pushing back in an unprecedented way. They’ve created two petitions demanding the option to work remotely full time that have collected over 1,000 signatures combined, a handful of people have resigned over the matter, and some employees have begun speaking out publicly to criticize management’s stance. Apple employees who don’t want to return to the office are challenging the popular management philosophy at many Silicon Valley companies that serendipitous, in-person collaboration is necessary to fuel innovation. “There’s this idea that people skateboarding around tech campuses are bumping into each other and coming up with great new inventions,” said Cher Scarlett, an engineer at Apple who joined the company during the pandemic and has become a leader in, among other issues, organizing her colleagues on pushing for more remote work. “That’s just not true,” she said. If Apple doesn’t budge on its remote work policy — and everything it’s said so far indicates that it won’t — some of its workers will likely jump ship. But Apple can afford to draw a hard line here because of its enormous power. The company offers workers hard-to-beat pay, benefits, and prestige, so it’s capable of retaining most of its workforce and continuing to attract top talent, regardless of its stance on flexible work. Other companies will either copy Apple’s remote work policies and risk losing more workers than Apple would — or they’ll try to compete with the tech giant by offering something it won’t. “This is a huge opportunity to essentially poach talent from companies that are just too rigid,” Art Zeile, CEO of Dice, a hiring platform for tech recruiters, said. And those are just the potential consequences in the short term. This fight will have bigger ramifications later on. That this battle is happening at Apple signals a major shift for the company. For the most part, until now, it’s managed to avoid the internal conflicts that have seized other tech companies like Google. Now Apple will need to reckon with internal employee activists who are learning to pressure their employer about issues beyond remote work, like pay parity and gender discrimination. Even when the question of remote work is eventually settled, its employees are now emboldened to push for other demands — and so Apple will likely continue to grapple with this challenge. Apple did not respond to a request for comment. While the immediate outcome of this conflict will mainly affect Apple workers, its ripple effects will impact white-collar workers elsewhere, both in and outside of the tech world. That’s because the fight itself reveals a growing tension in corporate America over what the future of work should look like for knowledge workers. Does a successful, innovative company like Apple need its employees to show up in person? Or can it adapt to its workers and offer them more flexibility while expecting the same results? What Apple decides will likely influence a host of other companies that will either emulate its choice or react to it. Inside the fight at Apple For Apple employees like Scarlett — a single mom with ADHD — working remotely has been a godsend. At home, she’s not distracted by coworkers’ conversations as she would be in an open office, and she can use some of the time she saves to pick up her daughter from school. “Being a single mom, there wasn’t anybody to get my daughter or stay with her. Before, it would come up that I leave the office a lot to do that,” Scarlett told Recode. “Now, I no longer have that anxiety of feeling the need to explain that there is no one else to pick up my child.” Scarlett is one of over 7,000 Apple employees who participate regularly in an internal corporate Slack group called “remote work advocacy,” where workers discuss their frustrations with management on the issue, and how other companies are offering more flexible arrangements. The group’s beginnings were relatively uncontroversial — it started as a place for Apple employees to share tips about how to work productively from home — but it turned into a hub of worker organizing. “This is a huge opportunity to essentially poach talent from companies that are just too rigid” —Art Zeile “Over time, a lot of people started realizing how great things were going as we were working from home,” said Janneke Parrish, an Apple employee who has been active in pushing for more remote work options and was one of several employees who drafted the petition. “And as the initial trauma of the pandemic wore off, the membership of that group just grew and grew and changed, from ‘here’s some tips on how to survive’ to ‘how can I talk to my manager about doing this [working from home] more permanently?’” While the members of the group are still a small subset of Apple’s some 147,000 employees, it’s now one of the largest channels on the company’s corporate Slack system, where engineers, designers, project managers, and people across the business actively participate. The fact that Apple even uses Slack is notable: As reported by the Information, the company only adopted Slack in late 2019, and since then, the platform has made it possible for employees to communicate with one another in ways they haven’t before. At Apple, a company so siloed and secretive about its product development that it’s not uncommon for employees to be unaware of what people outside their immediate team are working on, the breadth of the discussion is unprecedented. The worker organizing in the group has also spilled over into public view — another rare phenomenon at the intensely private company — beginning with when The Verge first reported in early June that employees were petitioning Apple to continue working remotely. For a while, leaders of the petitions were hopeful that management might concede to some of their ideas, especially after HR met with organizers to hear out their concerns about returning to work. But so far, management has ignored or dismissed employee demands, saying that the company needs its workers to show up. “We believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future,” said Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people operations, in a video sent to staff in late June that The Verge obtained, a few weeks after the first petition was circulated. In response, employees distributed a new internal petition, as Recode first reported, proposing more detailed plans for how employees could continue to work remotely full time. And at a recent all-hands, which Recode obtained a recording of, CEO Tim Cook addressed some of the pushback on his return-to-office plan. “I realize there are different opinions on it,” said Cook about Apple’s current plan to have employees come to work three days a week. “Some people would like to come in less, or not at all, some people would like to come in more.” While Cook didn’t concede to any employee demands, he did say the company is “committed to learning and tweaking.” Damian Dovarganes/AP Apple CEO Tim Cook seen at the Apple Tower Theatre flagship retail store in Los Angeles on June 24. “We’ll see how that goes,” said Cook. After details of that meeting were published in the press, Cook sent a memo condemning employees who leak, saying that they “do not belong at Apple” — and that memo was then leaked to The Verge. As the debate over remote work drags on, it’s added to other longstanding tensions at Apple around the company’s notoriously high-pressure culture — which employees are critiquing more candidly than before. “We had a running joke where we had a ‘crying room’ at the office,” Parrish told Recode. “We are as a group happier, healthier, and just doing so much better than we ever were in the office. And that’s because we’re able to have our own spaces … we’re able to escape a little bit from some of the more toxic elements of work.” Discussions about working from home have also been followed by more public discussions about other issues at the company, including pay disparity. Scarlett started a survey asking employees to self-report their salaries and demographic information, which was posted in the remote work advocacy channel and other channels. That survey, first reported on by The Verge, ended up showing that out of the 2,400 people who responded, women earned about 6 percent less on average than men. The self-run study doesn’t necessarily represent a full picture of Apple’s workforce — respondents opted in and thus were a self-selecting group. But it did further suspicions among some employees that the company may not pay all men and women equally (which it has said it has done since 2016). All this employee backlash at Apple over remote work is a testament to how important the issue is for knowledge workers across industries. For many, remote work during the pandemic made their lives better. Skipping a commute or being able to duck out in the middle of the day to run errands or shepherd children gave people a better sense of work-life balance. For those who felt left out from office camaraderie and extracurricular activities, the ability to work from home has been less isolating. Recode spoke with a handful of other Apple employees who shared why they and some of their colleagues don’t want to return to the office. Their perspectives mirror that of many other white-collar workers, particularly those who used to work at corporate campuses in expensive urban areas like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. One thing some cited, in addition to family and medical reasons, was the incredibly high cost of housing near Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. For the first time, some workers were able to move farther away from the office to more affordable areas on the outskirts. For those who currently have no commute, it’s hard to imagine going back to driving a two- to four-hour round trip. Parrish said that she is often on calls as early as 6 am and sometimes as late as 10:30 pm. She finds it much easier to take those calls from home. “For a lot of people, remote work allowed them a kind of work-life balance that was absolutely impossible in the office,” said Parrish, who said she also has health concerns about returning to the office because her partner is immunocompromised. “I’m able to have a life outside my job again, and I’m not willing to give that up.” Parrish isn’t alone, and her concerns aren’t unique to Apple. Workers of all kinds — regardless of whether their job or industry is suitable to it — overwhelmingly want the ability to work from home, at least some of the time, according to data from Boston Consulting Group. For the remote jobs on its platforms, LinkedIn says it sees two and a half times more applications than it does for non-remote jobs. Meanwhile, US employers are desperately in need of workers of all types to fill millions of jobs, both white collar and blue collar. But workers, for a variety of reasons, aren’t taking those jobs, as many of them hold out for better options — especially ones that offer remote work. White-collar workers, particularly tech workers, are much more likely to get this kind of work since their jobs are more easily done at home and since their skills are considered less replaceable than those of their blue-collar counterparts. Nearly half of jobs on the tech job platform Hired now allow full-time remote, while remote job listings on a more general job site, LinkedIn, are at 16 percent. “We are as a group happier, healthier, and just doing so much better than we ever were in the office” —Janneke Parrish Apple’s retail employees have also started pushing for more remote flexibility, particularly for customer support and sales roles that can be performed partly or totally online. That’s prompted Apple’s retail and corporate employees to connect in a new way. The discussion between retail and corporate employees has also turned to larger issues like alleged harassment, discrimination, and general mistreatment within Apple Stores’ work culture. Scarlett and several other corporate employee activists started a Discord subgroup and website called #AppleToo to discuss their grievances and coalesce workers. The group also has a Medium blog where Parrish is publishing some of the most jarring anecdotes that workers, including those in retail, have submitted. While it’s unlikely that Apple’s retail employees will be able to work from home, the fact that they are continuing to communicate and organize with corporate staff may be a sign of broader worker activism Apple will have to confront in its future. Why Apple is fighting remote work One of the most critical reasons Apple is fighting to get people back in the office is that its leaders think being in the office is good for business. “Innovation isn’t always a planned activity,” Cook told People magazine this spring. “It’s bumping into each other over the course of the day and advancing an idea that you just had. And you really need to be together to do that.” “I don’t think [management] is entirely wrong,” one Apple engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of Apple’s policy against employees speaking to the press without authorization, told Recode. “I think there are hallway conversations that I miss. But I think they overstate the value of it.” There isn’t hard evidence that spontaneous in-person meetings in the office, like what Cook describes, boost innovation for a company. But generally, having more connections with coworkers outside your team correlates to higher performance and creativity, according to research cited by Brandy Aven, an associate professor of organizational theory at Carnegie Mellon University. And you’re likely to bump into people outside your team if they’re physically nearby, so maybe Cook is onto something. At many offices, particularly at a giant tech campus like Apple’s headquarters, there’s a sort of formula for encouraging workers to talk to each other, even if they don’t work in the same department or on the same project. Through architecture and design, which Apple has invested in heavily, management can channel workers into the same space with communal kitchens, centrally located bathrooms, and atriums. That’s harder to recreate in the virtual world of Zoom calls, Slack, and email. Aven, however, thinks companies could use technology to come up with creative solutions and replacements for this situation rather than relying on requiring workers to be present in the office. “I think we could engineer serendipitous encounters over the web. Organizations just have to update and be a little bit more innovative,” Aven told Recode. “If we can put men in space, we can figure this problem out.” Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images Employees gather near the Apple visitors center ahead of an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, in 2019. For now, despite a year and a half forced experiment of working from home, we don’t know how remote work will affect things like innovation and collaboration in the long term. Companies are still trying to quantify the full impacts of remote work and trying different approaches to make it better. It’s an ongoing challenge, and how Apple responds — either by trying to bring its creativity to bear on remote work or by rejecting it outright — could have lasting influence on what remote work ends up looking like for everyone else. One thing that sets Apple apart is that unlike other Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Facebook, it is primarily a hardware — not a software — company. That means it needs to test, tinker, and develop physical products in person. The company’s success also depends, in part, on how tightly it can keep from its competition its plans to develop the latest iPhone or yet-to-be-announced gadget. If engineers and other staff working on sensitive products are allowed to do so at home, the thinking is, it may be easier for competitors to get access to confidential information. For all these reasons, Apple management is holding its ground. But due to the delta variant, the company’s return-to-office plan has been put on pause. Apple pushed back its office reopening until at least January due to health concerns. The announcement came only a day after the second employee petition on the matter. Several organizers Recode spoke with said they had no evidence that the petitions influenced Apple’s decision — but for now, the delta variant has essentially kicked the can down the road. The ripple effects of Apple’s hard line on remote work Even if everyone who signed the petitions at Apple were to quit, they would represent less than 1 percent of its workforce. In the short term, Apple will continue to be just fine regardless of what it decides about remote work. “Apple is probably an aberration since they’re the largest company by market cap and they have such a great tradition of innovation, and you can’t go wrong with a career at Apple,” Dice CEO Zeile said. “But there are thousands of other companies that are still going to be rigid, potentially, in their hiring practices. They’re the ones that are going to lose.” In other words, companies that aren’t like Apple will face more challenges if they choose to emulate the tech giant’s remote work policies. “There’s an absolute war on for talent in tech,” Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told Recode. She says there have been very few software engineer applications per vacancy. “Where companies have said, ‘We want you back in the office,’ or, ‘We want you in the office three days a week,’ it looks as though all of those positions are softening pretty quickly. And they’re being pushed into a corner by competitors, who are saying, ‘Hey, we don’t care if you’re fully remote all day long and working out of Hawaii.’” Some other companies may choose to react strategically, rather than following suit, if Apple continues to reject employees’ calls for full-time remote work. That would create an opening for them to offer remote work to punch above their weight and attract more applicants. “We definitely think it gives us a competitive advantage” —Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of HR It’s notable that even the finance industry, where leaders have been vocal about their opposition to remote work, is becoming more open to it. Companies like Citibank and Jefferies Group are using this as a way to poach talent from their stricter peers like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. And Twitter, which announced in May 2020 that its employees could work from anywhere forever, is already using remote work to poach talent from tech companies that are more strict about when and where people can work. “We definitely think it gives us a competitive advantage,” Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of HR, told Recode. The company, she says, is telling prospective employees, “‘If you don’t want to wait and see what happens with your company’s work-from-home policy, come work for us.’ It’s a selling point for people who don’t want to be in limbo.” In the near future, most of Apple’s employees seem like they’re willing to accept being in limbo. No matter what Apple decides, it can afford to take a hard line against employees pushing for full-time remote work. But in the long term, this battle over flexible work has created an opening for other issues and tensions to rise to the surface at the company. Its workers are organizing in ways they haven’t before, and they’re standing up to management in mostly unprecedented ways. That’s a challenge that Apple may need to deal with long after the debate over working from home is settled.

  • What happens when billionaires jump on the biodiversity bandwagon
    by Benji Jones on September 23, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos pledged $1 billion for conservation this week. Can billionaires like him halt the biodiversity crisis? | Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images The ultrarich want to change the paradigm of conservation. It won’t be easy. Welcome to the age of billionaire biodiversity conservation. As climate change scorches the planet and a global extinction crisis escalates, the ultrarich have started funneling bits of their wealth into protecting nature. This week, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the wealthiest man on Earth, pledged $1 billion to protect land and water as part of his $10 billion Earth Fund. Bezos was joined by eight other donors — including Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, which is built on the Walmart fortune — who together committed an additional $4 billion to the cause. Combined, it’s the largest private funding commitment ever to the conservation of biodiversity, which generally refers to diverse assemblages of species and functioning ecosystems. In announcing the pledge, Bezos acknowledged that many past efforts to conserve nature haven’t worked. And he’s right, judging by the state of the environment: Populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish have declined by almost 70 percent on average since 1970, and the planet has lost about a third of its forests. “I know that many conservation efforts have failed in the past,” Bezos said. “Top-down programs fail to include communities, they fail to include Indigenous people that live in the local area. We won’t make those same mistakes.” Bezos and other billionaires are promising to support Indigenous-led initiatives, which represents something of a paradigm shift in conservation. But not all experts are convinced that their money will forge a new path and make a dent in the extinction crisis. While Bezos is known for disrupting the e-commerce world, the primary approach his fund is taking — bolstering the planet’s network of protected and conserved areas — is not new, and could even be considered old-school. That’s not to say protected areas don’t work. They just don’t do much to erode the root causes of biodiversity loss, which include the very culture of over-consumption and same-day convenience that has made Amazon Amazon. “Amazon remains reliant on massive fleets of polluting delivery vehicles, wasteful packaging, and even a new fleet of jet-fuel-powered planes to keep speedily delivering stuff to impatient online shoppers,” as Vox’s Rebecca Heilweil reported this week. Which is to say: While Bezos and other billionaires are aiding conservation and signaling that their efforts will support a historically underfunded group of people, they’re doing little to limit the forces that make conservation necessary in the first place and that made them rich. The age of billionaire biodiversity Bezos’s announcement is just one of several recent pledges that have poured in from prominent billionaires — in support of biodiversity efforts like 30 by 30, which aims to protect 30 percent of all global land and oceans by 2030. “Protecting at least 30 percent of our planet by 2030 is not a luxury but a vital measure to preserve the Earth’s health and well-being,” said Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, who run the UK-based Arcadia Fund, which is among nine philanthropy groups, including Bezos’s Earth Fund, that pledged the $5 billion to conservation this week. Other tech moguls have also thrown their weight behind conservation in recent years, from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who’s gone all-in on tree-planting, to Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, whose foundation put $1 billion into the 30 by 30 campaign. (The Wyss Foundation is also among the nine organizations that contributed to the $5 billion pledge.) “We’re seeing a lot of [conservation funding] from billionaires, who are becoming increasingly conscious of the global cataclysm upon us,” said David Kaimowitz, a forestry director at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, who spent more than a decade at the Ford Foundation. Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Bezos’s billion will go toward expanding and managing a network of protected and conserved areas in the Congo Basin, tropical Andes, and the Pacific Ocean. Here, the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, a protected area in the Republic of the Congo in the Congo Basin. Plenty of good comes from big pledges like these: They draw attention to the biodiversity crisis — which is often overshadowed by other environmental concerns — and the fact that we can’t fight climate change without also protecting nature. The Earth Fund, after all, was set up to advance climate solutions. Bezos’s pledge is “a really important gesture that we cannot solve the climate crisis without addressing biodiversity and conservation,” said Rachael Petersen, principal and founder of Earthrise Services, a consulting firm that advises high net-worth individuals and foundations on environmental philanthropy. “I think this will usher in climate donors who realize the importance of conservation as a climate strategy.” It’s also meaningful that much of the recent funding from billionaires will, according to the donors, go toward supporting Indigenous people and local communities. “Five years ago, such a commitment would be unthinkable,” Kaimowitz said. “There has been a sea change in the global recognition of the central role of Indigenous peoples and local communities” in conservation, he said. Some experts like Kaimowitz are cautiously optimistic about what billionaire fortunes will bring. But others say that while it’s easy to pledge support for Indigenous-led conservation, these statements fail to capture the deeper commitments necessary for actually stemming biodiversity loss. Can the mega-rich stop species from dying out? There’s an idea floating around the conservation community: Once the ultrarich wake up to the extinction crisis, we might be able to solve it, said Jessica Dempsey, a political ecologist at the University of British Columbia. But if losing nature was a problem of just money — or lack thereof — we probably wouldn’t be seeing such drastic declines of the world’s ecosystems today, said Pamela McElwee, an associate professor at Rutgers who was involved in a flagship 2019 biodiversity report, which raised the alarm about extinction threats. “If just throwing money at the problem solved the problem, we’d be farther along than where we are,” she said. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Amazon Bezos co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, a coalition of companies focused on reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. The bulk of recent pledges tend to favor somewhat traditional models of conservation, Dempsey said, such as building networks of protected areas or planting trees, which we’ve been doing for decades. These kinds of initiatives are convenient because they work within established political and economic systems, Dempsey said — the very ones that allow billionaires to thrive. “Protected areas obviously can be extremely important,” she said. “But they don’t challenge existing concentrations of power and wealth.” A parallel might be fossil fuel companies investing in technologies that capture carbon: While those investments could reduce the greenhouse gases that are trapping heat in the atmosphere, they do nothing to disrupt the industries that spew climate-warming emissions. Protected and conserved areas don’t, for example, address the issue of tax evasion, which limits the money that governments can spend on public conservation, Dempsey said. Bezos, like so many of the world’s ultrarich, pays barely any taxes relative to his wealth, which amounts to nearly $200 billion. “This works very well for someone like Bezos because he’s been a beneficiary of the structuring of our economy, which doesn’t tax wealth,” she said. Traditional conservation funding also does nothing to lessen the waste created by corporations like Amazon, or the policies that enable them. The company’s carbon footprint has risen each year since 2018; last year, Amazon’s carbon emissions grew 19 percent, while global emissions fell roughly 7 percent, as Heilweil reported. What’s $1 billion — or even $5 billion — compared to the ecological harm that philanthropists’ companies have caused? Another example of this uncomfortable juxtaposition comes from Norway, McElwee said. Much of the country’s enormous wealth stems from oil and gas production, yet Norway is also one of the world’s largest funders of forest conservation and clean energy. “Can we use capitalism to save the world from capitalism?” McElwee said. Not in its current state, Dempsey said — unless the money from billionaires is spent on reining in their own power and influence, which is arguably antithetical to the very idea of capitalism. “You cannot have democratic approaches to any of these problems when you have that amount of concentrated wealth,” she said. Where four experts would put $1 billion for conservation So how should a person spend billions of dollars on biodiversity? Dempsey recommends a “two-step” approach: Protect the environment, for example by creating more reserves or conserved areas (step one), while also fostering the political, economic, or social conditions for conservation strategies to succeed (step two). On the conservation side, experts call for more investments in communities that already know and care for the land. “A very large percentage of the biodiversity left in the world is in areas managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities,” Kaimowitz said. “They’ve been able to manage these areas and protect these resources as well as — and, in many cases, better than — non-Indigenous protected areas.” Specifically, Kaimowitz suggests spending money on granting Indigenous people land rights, paying them for the services provided by the ecosystems they manage, and supporting initiatives focused on agroforestry — that is, natural forests that grow food or other resources. A lot of local communities have also been hit hard by the pandemic, McElwee said, and need an injection of funds now more than ever. Bezos hasn’t yet detailed where, exactly, the billion dollars will go, but the Earth Fund says it will “give emphasis to the central role of local communities and Indigenous peoples in conservation efforts” — which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Beyond that, McElwee said, it’s important that donors target the underlying causes of biodiversity loss. Here’s where nature-based philanthropy gets complicated because these efforts might not look like conservation. They could, for example, include supporting industries that sell plant-based meats (cattle farming is a major driver of deforestation) or cleaning up corporate supply chains, instead of setting up a reserve for a rare species. “It’s easier to say, ‘We’re going to conserve X hectares of land,’” McElwee said, rather than try to fix a complex supply chain — and the companies that control it — that threatens a particular ecosystem. Dempsey, meanwhile, would put money toward limiting the government policies that enable extractive industries, such as oil and gas, to become powerful. It should be more costly for banks and other financial institutions to lend to corporations that harm the environment, such as agribusinesses, she says. “We need to be thinking about how to rein in those flows in ways that don’t rely on voluntary measures or weak market disclosures,” she said. We also need to fund politicians and policies that support Indigenous sovereignty, she said. There’s a limit to the impact of billionaires like Bezos if a country like Brazil — home to 60 percent of the actual Amazon, i.e. the world’s largest rainforest — doesn’t want Indigenous peoples to have autonomy and sovereignty over their resources, she said. It’s more complicated than simply saying that conservation efforts must be Indigenous-led, she added. Similarly, McElwee wants to see more efforts directed at eliminating government incentives that benefit the oil and gas sector and other industries that harm the environment. “I would love to see a conservation organization have its mission be eliminating subsidies,” she said. “That is a perpetual issue that never seems to get solved. Maybe that will make it in your article and Bezos will read it and be, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to fund that.’”

  • How the iPhone changed everything
    by Peter Kafka on September 22, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone in January 2007. | David Paul Morris/Getty Images Even if you don’t use Apple products, you still live in a world the company completely reshaped. True story. Once upon a time, mobile phones were … phones. You used them to make phone calls. Maybe you’d send some texts, if you were kind of advanced. The iPhone changed all that. And it changed more than the way we used phones: It changed Apple, and it changed culture, and it overturned industries and created new ones. And all of that happened really, really fast: Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone just 14 years ago. But it’s already almost impossible to imagine what life was like before that. So that’s where we’re kicking off our newest season of Land of the Giants, our podcast series that focuses on the biggest and most influential tech companies of our time. If you want to tell the story of Apple, you start with the most important thing Apple has ever done. In our first episode, we talk to high-ranking Apple executives who shepherded the iPhone project from the very beginning, as well as unsung Apple employees who actually figured out how to build the thing. But the iPhone isn’t just a consumer electronics breakthrough. It’s a device that remade the world, and we want to explain how that happened. And, crucially, what it means to live, now, in a world where iPhones — and the competitors’ phones it inspired — aren’t just nice to have, but requirements. It’s worth considering as Apple, Facebook, and every other big tech giant work on some kind of augmented/virtual reality headwear that each of them hopes will be the next iPhone. How do we want that story to play out this time around? As in other seasons of Land of the Giants — we’ve previously tackled Amazon, Netflix, and Google — we want to bring you inside Apple and inside the thinking of the leaders who shaped it. And we also want to scrutinize the power Apple has amassed as it has changed the world, and the real-time battles it’s fighting with regulators and critics to hang on to that power. That’s a big story to tell, and a fun one, and a provocative one. We hope you enjoy it. The first episode of Land of the Giants: The Apple Revolution is out now. New episodes drop on Wednesdays. Feel free to listen to it on your iPhone, or any other device you choose.

  • Jeff Bezos commits $1 billion to conservation as Amazon destroys the world
    by Rebecca Heilweil on September 21, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    Billionaire Jeff Bezos walks on the tarmac near the Blue Origin rocket that took him to space on July 20. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images The former Amazon CEO said his recent trip to space further inspired him to protect the planet. Jeff Bezos is donating $1 billion of his $10 billion climate philanthropy pledge to protect biodiversity and carbon-saving forests in the Andes, the Congo Basin, and the tropical Pacific Ocean. After nearly three decades leading Amazon, which has a vast and growing carbon footprint, Bezos seems intent on forging a new identity as an environmentalist and perhaps the world’s most generous financier in the fight against climate change. And that expensive trip to space he just took? Bezos says it was enlightening. “Nature is our life support system and it’s fragile,” the billionaire said Monday at a press conference. “I was reminded of this just this July when I went into space with Blue Origin. I’d heard that seeing the Earth from space changes one’s point of view of the world, but I was not prepared for just how much that would be true.” While the fundraising effort is certainly notable, Bezos’s commitment to protecting the environment serves as a stark reminder that much of his legacy and largely untaxed fortune was built by companies that have staggering carbon footprints. Amazon’s carbon emissions have grown every year since 2018, and last year alone, when global carbon emissions fell roughly 7 percent, Amazon’s carbon emissions grew 19 percent to 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s roughly equivalent to burning 140 million barrels of oil. Amazon has moved to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, like committing to electrifying its delivery vehicles, and it has recruited dozens of companies to sign its Climate Pledge, a corporate commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. But for now, Amazon remains reliant on massive fleets of polluting delivery vehicles, wasteful packaging, and even a new fleet of jet-fuel-powered planes to keep speedily delivering stuff to impatient online shoppers. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services (AWS) uses massive amounts of energy to keep its servers online. In 2019, Greenpeace accused the cloud computing company of abandoning its pledge to use 100 percent renewable energy and said that some of the largest AWS data centers used just 12 percent renewable energy. Amazon disputes these allegations. “To the contrary, Amazon is proud to be the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy,” the company told Recode. “We are on a path to power 100% of our business with renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of our original target of 2030.” And even as other companies, like Google, have moved away from offering some cloud services to fossil fuel companies, AWS still lists Shell, Hess, and BP as customers. Bezos is technically no longer part of Amazon. But Blue Origin, the private spaceflight company he owns that recently took him to space, has raised environmental concerns. While the space rocket company has used carbon-free fuels — namely, a combination of liquid hydrogen and oxygen — making these fuels is still environmentally costly, and environmentalists warn that Blue Origin rockets still leave behind particles that can harm the atmosphere. So when seen from a certain perspective, Bezos’s environmental philanthropy feels a bit like an effort to clean up a mess his companies helped make. Update, September 22, 2021, 1:10 pm ET: This piece has been updated to include a statement from Amazon.

The Vergecast Hello! This is The Vergecast, the flagship podcast of The Verge… and your life. Every Friday, Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn make sense of the week’s tech news with help from our wide-ranging staff. And on Tuesdays, Nilay hosts in-depth, one-on-one interviews with major technology leaders. Join us every week for a fun, deeply nerdy, often off-the-rails conversation about what’s happening now (and next) in technology and gadgets.

  • iPhone 13 review / Microsoft’s Surface event biggest announcements
    by The Verge on September 24, 2021 at 8:00 am

    The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, Alex Cranz, and Tom Warren discuss the reviews of the iPhone 13/iPhone 13 Pro and the many new devices Microsoft announced at their Surface event this week. Further reading: iPhone 13 review: yep, bigger batteries are better iPhone 13 Pro review: a better display, the best camera, and incredible battery life  iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 review: foundational fixes  iOS 15 is here, but we’re still waiting on a few new features Apple updates macOS Safari with a new look, but you can turn off the big changes EU proposes mandatory USB-C on all devices, including iPhones Apple won’t let Fortnite back on iOS until the Epic v. Apple verdict is final Tim Cook says employees who leak memos do not belong at Apple, according to leaked memo Microsoft’s fall Surface event: the 7 biggest announcements  Microsoft announces Surface Pro 8 with bigger 13-inch 120Hz display and Thunderbolt Surface Laptop Studio is Microsoft’s new powerful flagship laptop Microsoft’s new Surface Duo 2 has all the features that were missing the first time around Microsoft’s new Slim Pen 2 uses haptics to mimic the feeling of using a real pen The Surface Pro X gets a Wi-Fi-only version The Surface Go 3 gets new Intel processors Microsoft’s new mouse has a shell that’s 20 percent recycled ocean plastic Surface Adaptive Kit makes Microsoft’s laptops more accessible Microsoft Surface Pro 8 hands-on: the one we’ve waited for Microsoft Surface Duo 2 hands-on: once more, with cameras Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio hands-on: one weird, powerful computer  The Surface Laptop Studio isn’t as original as Microsoft would have you believe Kids who grew up with search engines could change STEM education forever Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

  • AI might help edit the next generation of blockbusters
    by The Verge on September 21, 2021 at 10:00 am

    For the next four Tuesdays, Verge senior reporter Ashley Carman will explore how artificial intelligence and machine learning are shaping the future of a variety of industries. In this episode, Ashley explores how AI is being used to streamline video creation.  Guests include VP of Adobe Sensei Scott Prevost, co-founder and co-CEO of Flawless Scott Mann, and Verge senior reporter James Vincent.  This podcast was made by producer Liam James, senior audio director Andru Marino, senior reporter James Vincent, and senior reporter Ashley Carman.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

  • Apple’s iPhone 13 event: the biggest announcements
    by The Verge on September 17, 2021 at 8:00 am

    The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, and Alex Cranz discuss all the products announced at Apple’s hardware event this week: iPhones, iPads, the Apple Watch, and more. Keep listening for some gadget news, including Nintendo finally adding Bluetooth audio to the Switch. Further reading: ​​Apple’s iPhone 13 event: the 8 biggest announcements The iPhone 13 may finally get features Android has had for years The iPhone 13 event was a case study in Tim Cook-era product refinement iPhone 13 and 13 Mini announced with redesigned camera array and smaller notch iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max announced with high refresh rate 120Hz displays The iPhone 13 is a pitch-perfect iPhone 12S Goodbye and good riddance to Apple’s 64GB iPhones Apple announces new entry-level iPad with A13 Bionic chip The iPhone 13’s new camera tricks include cinematic video and macro photography Apple says it every year, but the iPhone 13 cameras do seem much improved Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro is the first iPhone with 1TB of storage Apple drops the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone XR from its lineup Apple’s updated leather MagSafe wallet supports Find My location tracking How the iPhone 13, Mini, Pro and Max compare to Android rivals — and vs. iPhone 12 All-new iPad Mini announced with 5G, USB-C, and larger 8.3-inch display Apple is releasing iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 on September 20th Apple announces new entry-level iPad with A13 Bionic chip The Apple Watch Series 7 has a brand-new look Apple is releasing watchOS 8 on September 20th Should you wait for the Apple Watch Series 7? Apple Fitness Plus is getting Group Workouts and Pilates The Apple rumors were wrong Where are Apple’s new Macs? Here’s what we’re still expecting Apple to announce this year Nintendo finally adds Bluetooth audio to the Switch in new software update Google’s rumored Pixel 6 Tensor processor sounds extremely weird Razer made gamer thimbles Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

  • Everyone will be able to clone their voice in the future
    by The Verge on September 14, 2021 at 10:00 am

    For the next four Tuesdays, Verge senior reporter Ashley Carman will explore how artificial intelligence and machine learning are shaping the future of a variety of industries. In this episode, Ashley talks to AI companies that are working with voice synthesis to see why they are targeting the field of voice talent and podcasting and what cloning your voice can be used for in the future. Read more This podcast was made by producer Liam James, senior audio director Andru Marino, senior reporter James Vincent, and senior reporter Ashley Carman. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

  • Epic v. Apple judge rules that Apple must allow other forms of in-app purchases
    by The Verge on September 11, 2021 at 12:15 am

    In an emergency Vergecast, The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Dieter Bohn, Adi Robertson, and Russell Brandom discuss the ruling today in the Epic v. Apple trial. Further reading: Apple must allow other forms of in-app purchases, rules judge in Epic v. Apple Epic v. Apple judge rules Fortnite’s Peely can appear naked in court Epic will appeal the Epic v. Apple decision Will Fortnite return to iOS? Probably not any time soon The future of the App Store depends on the difference between a ‘button’ and an ‘external link’ The Apple App Store: A brief history of major policy changes  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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