This whole Internet of things thing is started to get a little weird.
Amazon is pursuing something called Amazon Key, which lets its couriers unlock Prime customers’ doors and deliver packages. It’s pairing the service, which it plans to make available in 37 cities next month, with a camera so users will have intelligence inside and outside their homes, presumably boosting trust and lowering creepiness.
If one trusts Amazon, a big if, it’s a pretty cool idea. The company already might be listening to everything my family says via our Echo speaker and its Alexa voice assistant. So it knows what I want, and soon it can deliver it without my having to be home. It reminds me a bit of the Chinese startups that’ll wash your car while you work.
Apparently modern life means never having to wait at home for a service or delivery person ever again.
Trust will be key, though. Amazon has a good record with customers, who are confident the retailer will give them the lowest price. Entering their home will be another thing altogether.
What’s odd, by the way, is seeing Amazon as a follower. Walmart recently announced a similar test (for groceries) with August, the connected lock maker—whose acquisition I hadn’t noticed last week. The camera angle follows the popular Dropcam, which Nest bought and is now part of Alphabet and is now Nest Cam.
Amazon led with online bookselling, web services, and drones. If it follows on other features, does it matter? Probably not.
Dinner and some data. Popular dating apps such as OkCupid, Tinder, and Bumble have vulnerabilities that make users’ personal information potentially accessible to hackers. The security lapses, which vary in terms of severity and feasibility, could expose people’s names, login information, location, message history, and other account activity, warned researchers at Kaspersky Lab. Oh yeah, and Kaspersky also reported on how it ended up with source code from the NSA.
Denied it. Apple issued a rare public denial of a rumor of problems with the company’s new infrared facial recognition system. Contrary to a Bloomberg report summarized in Data Sheet on Wednesday, Apple says it has not lowered the accuracy threshold for the new sensors (“completely false”). The company also confirmed that it bought PowerbyProxi, a startup that has found a way to transmit more power wirelessly than standard wireless chargers for smartphones.
Sort of growing. Maybe everyone did want to write longer tweets? Twitter reported positive user growth and revenue that, while in decline, still beat Wall Street’s expectations, sending its shares up 12% in premarket trading on Thursday. Monthly active users grew 4% to 330 million and revenue decreased 4% to $590 million.
Details to come. The Trump Administration issued a plan to speed up the commercial usage of drones. Under the plan, the Secretary of Transportation is to work with the FAA, local and state agencies, and tribal authorities to help the federal government create a set of regulations for commercial flights.
More trouble. Three women engineers sued Uber for gender and racial discrimination. In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday at the Superior Court in San Francisco, the women say Uber’s employee ranking system is “not based on valid and reliable performance measures” and favors men and white or Asian employees.
My network’s bigger. The Federal Communications Commission is moving to end media ownership limits that date to the 1970s, such as the ban on owning a newspaper and TV station in the same market. The agency already raised the cap on the number of stations that can be owned by a single company, allowing Sinclair Broadcast Group to go forward with its $4 billion purchase of Tribune Media.
Pretty good. Reviews of Google’s new $999 Pixelbook Chromebook laptop hit on Thursday. Most loved the hardware but struggled with the software. The Verge, for example, called the 2.5 lb device “superb” but found the integration of Android apps in the Chrome OS still a work in progress.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Jack Dorsey is the CEO of two companies, one a bit more famous that the other. But while Dorsey has yet to find the magic formula for saving Twitter, his other day job at payments startup Square is going much better. Even with Thursday’s positive earnings report from Twitter, Square is on track to surpass its Dorsey-linked peer in stock market value, New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper notes in a lengthy profile of the CEO. The seemingly boring payments space offers a clearer business path to future growth and profits than the more popular social networking arena, according to Ron Shevlin, director of research at Cornerstone Advisors:
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Amazon HQ2 Is Roiling These Mayoral Races By Barb Darrow
This Self-Driving Bus Will Take You to the Spa By David Meyer
Facebook Job Postings Reveal Hiring at Oculus, Instagram, WhatsApp and More By John Patrick Pullen
Apple Co-Founder Is Skeptical of Tesla’s Promises on Autopilot By Kirsten Korosec
How Google Maps of ‘Cancer’ and Other Search Terms Track America’s Health By John Patrick Pullen
See Photos of Tech Companies’ Futuristic Headquarters By Kacy Burdette
BEFORE YOU GO
Sometimes when big software companies buy beloved small software companies, the end result is the end of the beloved software. That looked to be the case when Google bought and then largely neglected some apps beloved by photographers known as the Nik Collection. But now comes news that Google has sold Nik to another small software outfit, DxO, which will revive the line. And that’s a pretty picture.