Technology

On today's episode, we discuss five new bills that aim to limit Big Tech, whether short-form audio is next, Google's fine over its treatment of news publishers, why we buy what we buy, what to make of Disney+ subscriber growth hitting the brakes, how the world gets its caffeine, and more. Tune in to the discussion with eMarketer senior analysts Sara M. Watson and Jasmine Enberg and analyst at Insider Intelligence Blake Droesch.

Amazon announced most of its Echo devices will support the cross-platform smart home standard— an essential endorsement for Matter’s success given Amazon’s outsize role in the smart speaker market.

Tesla may open up its EV supercharger network: The move would mark a stark departure from Tesla’s focus on charging exclusivity, and could help drive up EV adoption.

Facebook’s CEO believes its hefty investment in AR and VR could make it a powerful player in the next stage of the internet. The proclamation comes amid rampant regulatory scrutiny and slowing user growth among Facebook’s core products.

A new survey shows the vast majority of tech workers think it’s important that their employers let them work remotely indefinitely. The findings further complicate Big Tech’s efforts to return to the office amid simmering employee backlash and a quickly spreading COVID-19 variant.

Apple dives headfirst into 5G: Reports say it may release a fleet of 5G-enabled phones, roll out a 5G-enabled SE model, and ditch its mini version. If they’re true, Apple’s commitment to 5G could help drive 5G adoption more widely.

Protestors are using a US government-funded tool to bypass state-imposed social media restrictions. As global audiences are increasingly subject to censorship, Big Tech firms may need to offer features capable of bypassing local internet restrictions in order to serve those markets.

New safety issues involving Tesla’s Full Self-Driving feature call into question the company’s choice to test on public roads. Though rapid real-world testing could advance the tech, it may also amplify consumers’ No. 1 concern about AVs: safety.

The news: Tech workers have begun repatriating en masse to Silicon Valley, despite continued calls for greater remote flexibility from many employees at the largest tech companies, per The New York Times. How we got here: Significant portions of tech’s workforce abandoned the industry’s major geographical hubs during the pandemic and flocked to more affordable cities like Austin, Nashville, and Charlotte. The problem: At the same time, vocal segments of workers at Big Tech’s largest companies are speaking out against back-to-office mandates. Apple employees, who previously resisted the company’s return-to-work policies, claim the company is making it more difficult to get remote work requests approved, causing some to threaten to quit. Google is pushing ahead with its revised hybrid work plan despite a recent internal survey that found a significant number of engineers felt they were just as productive working from home as they were prior to the pandemic, per Bloomberg. The takeaway: Though the tech giants may ultimately succeed in returning the majority of their workforce to the Bay Area, the individuals who make up those companies could change significantly. Tech workers’ preferences for remote work are part of a larger reexamination of the nature of work taking place across the country: 39% of US adults said they’d consider quitting their jobs if their employer wasn’t flexible on remote work, according to a May 2021 Morning Consult/Bloomberg poll. At the same time, the number of companies offering flexible work is growing. Brie Reynolds, a career development manager at job search startup FlexJobs, told Recode her company saw the share of employers offering at least partial-remote positions increase to nearly 90% in 2021, up from around 60% in 2019. This proliferation of options, combined with changing worker preferences, could lead tech workers to jump ship to competitors or other industries.

A new government task force will work to bolster US cyber defenses to combat surging ransomware attacks. Though an important first step, effective ransomware prevention will likely require either comprehensive legislation or scalable local security initiatives.

Counterfeit hearables have proliferated alongside surging consumer demand for AirPods and other devices. Though most counterfeiters seek to replicate well-known brands, the continuing chip shortage has also incentivized production of counterfeit semiconductors, which could pose risks to consumers.

A pair of government watchdog reports into federal use of facial recognition has reinvigorated bipartisan calls for AI regulation generally. Algorithmic amplification of online content could present an opportunity for consensus for both parties, albeit from different angles.