Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
Facebook’s annual Oculus Connect conference will be held online-only on September 16th — and it’s being rebranded as Facebook Connect, part of the social giant’s gradual assimilation of its virtual reality subsidiary.
Connect 2020 will be publicly streamed online, a change Facebook announced in April. Like the past few years’ events, it will cover a mix of virtual and augmented reality news from Facebook. But unlike previous years, it’s not being framed as a VR conference. Instead it’s the first outing for “Facebook Reality Labs,” a name that now covers all Facebook’s VR and AR efforts. That includes Oculus, which focuses on VR games and headsets; Spark AR, Facebook’s phone-based AR system; and the Portal videophone.
Oculus, Spark AR,...
Another sort of dark, brooding figure is making his way to the big screen.
Amazon has added the first Black member to its prestigious S-team, a group of executives that advises CEO Jeff Bezos.
Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment, is joining the S-team — along with John Felton and Dave Treadwell — as consumer chief Jeff Wilke departs the company.
Boler Davis joined Amazon last year after serving as a top lieutenant at GM.
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Amazon has added three new members to its elite "S-team," including the first Black member to be added to the prestigious group that advises CEO Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Wilke, consumer chief and second-in-command at Amazon, announced on Friday that he's planning to leave the company in the first quarter of 2021. As part of the change, John Felton, Dave Treadwell, and Alicia Boler Davis have been added to the S-team. Felton currently leads global delivery services for Amazon, while Treadwell heads up Amazon's eCommerce Foundation.
Boler Davis is Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment. She joined the company in 2019 after serving as head of global manufacturing at GM, where she reported directly to CEO Mary Barra. Boler Davis oversaw manufacturing for three years at GM — before that, she led the company's connected-car efforts, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"While she was at General Motors, Alicia and I were introduced by a mutual friend and agreed to have lunch," Wilke said in an email to employees on Friday. "We hit it off right away. I was so impressed with her leadership experience, technical acumen, and especially her dedication to the workers on the shop floor ... I was sure we shared the same instincts."
Boler Davis is the fourth female executive to be added to the S-team and the first Black member. Short for senior team, the S-team has consisted of 22 leaders besides Bezos spread across different aspects of Amazon's business. With Wilke's departure and the addition of three new members, the S-team has expanded to 25 total members, including AWS boss Andy Jassy, who reports directly to Bezos, and Dave Clark, who is taking over Wilke's role.
According to Business Insider's Eugene Kim, the S-team meets regularly to discuss big ideas at the company, but those meetings have been more frequent, even daily, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boler Davis' addition to the team marks a major step for Amazon in terms of improving diversity efforts. Though more than a quarter of Amazon's total 500,000-person workforce is Black, employees told The New York Times in June that the company needs to do more to add diversity to its executive ranks and to address racism at its fulfillment centers.
Amazon publicly declared its support for the Black Lives Matter movement after protests erupted across the nation in June following the killing of George Floyd. The public support sparked a wave of racist emails sent directly to Bezos, which he posted on Instagram, describing those customers as the type he's "happy to lose." Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What makes 'Parasite' so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence
As if it weren’t bad enough with the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens on the US West Coast, especially in California, now also have to brave the wildfires blazing across many states. Dealing with this calamity is just as unpredictable as the virus and people’s best bet is getting the right information at the right time. As the company that practically has … Continue reading
The White House has filed a petition with the Supreme Court.
There will be two Batmans, actually. Affleck will be joined by Michael Keaton, who's also reprising his role as the Caped Crusader.
Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter! As I wrote last week, I’ve made and currently have a lot of friends I met through my own company. It’s not like I only hired friends — which would be weird and, you know, nepotism — but to me, it feels logical that some of the people I hired eventually turned into friends. Once upon a… This story continues at The Next Web
(Oregon State University) The on-duty firefighters in the Kansas City, Missouri, area experienced higher exposures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are a family of chemicals that are known to have the potential to cause cancer.
We spent a couple of weeks testing AT&T 5G to see how it fares and found a mixed experience at best.
While they’re not quite ready for prime time, they’re certainly far from science fiction.
This week, we saw a tech fight for the ages, as Epic baited Apple and Google to remove its 'Fortnite' app from their stores.
They did, and Epic responded with lawsuits and a parody video that attacked Apple's stringent App Store policies.
With Facebook also entering the fight, Apple appears to be running out of friends. The next few weeks will test just how tough its walled garden is.
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
This was the week that tech went to war with itself – and it may be the beginning of a protracted, wide-ranging conflict.
Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, fired the first shot on Thursday when it deliberately violated Apple's App Store rules. On its face, the dispute is about the 30% app store fees that Apple (and Google) charge developers.
But the heated, at times surreal, spectacle that followed — including lawsuits, slick video propaganda, hashtag sneak attacks and pile-ons — points to a more complex web of conflicts, alliances and agendas.
For years, Apple has capitalized on its ad-free business model to bludgeon Facebook and Google for their mishandling of user data. Now Facebook finally has an opening to press its advantage against Apple. Meanwhile Spotify, which has long argued that Apple's in-house streaming music service is inherently anti-competitive, has no choice but to now jump into the fray alongside Epic.
It's no coincidence that all of this is happening against the backdrop of the Big Tech antitrust crackdown in the US and Europe. Antitrust however, is just one facet of a deeper destabilization shaking up the tech market.
As we've seen with TikTok and Microsoft's arranged-marriage talks, and President Trump's comments about taking a cut of proceeds, the tech market's traditional rules of engagement no longer seem to apply. Anything is possible, and that's a threat to established structures like app stores, walled gardens and revenue sharing pacts.
There's a lot at stake, and all sorts of competing interests that are likely to emerge. Here's a look at where things stand in the early stages of what could turn into a tech industry upheaval.
Epic set the trap
It all started on Thursday when 'Fortnite' maker Epic Games announced it would introduce its own in-app payment system, circumventing Apple and Google's 30% fee.
A few hours later, Apple pulled the app for its store, citing a violation of its policies. The problem for Apple: Epic knew this was coming.
Just a few minutes after the app was pulled, Epic filed a lawsuit accusing Apple of anticompetitive behavior. It also launched a hilarious Easter egg-filled protest video which skewered Apple's famous 1984 advert and called on players to #FreeFortnite.
It was a trap, and Apple walked right into it. Google soon followed – and so did a second lawsuit – although sadly Epic denied us the Google equivalent of Apple's 1984 parody.
But the timing here was very deliberate. Just two weeks earlier, Apple CEO Tim Cook was summoned to Capitol Hill to defend against accusations that Apple was behaving in ways that stifle competitors. During that historic antitrust hearing, much of the attention on Apple focused on the App Store.
With a co-ordinated series of moves, Epic was this week able to demonstrate just how much power Apple and Google hold, and how the 30% cut these companies take on in-app purchases .
Facebook jumps into the fray
It was also meant as a rallying cry, and soon other voices came to its defence. Spotify, never one to miss an opportunity to swing at Apple, took its shot by calling out Cupertino 's "unfair practices." As did Tinder.
But things got more interesting on Friday when Facebook entered the arena.
Apple, it said, had refused to reduce the 30% fee on a new paid feature, which Facebook argues could help small business owners during the pandemic.
This wasn't the first time Facebook had aired grievances against Apple's App Store policies. Just a week ago, the social network finally launched its gaming app on iOS with a major caveat: users could only stream games, they couldn't play them.
Like Epic, Facebook had been squabbling with Apple for a while. And like Epic, it now has another thing to point at to make the case that Apple is harming competitors.
Facebook attacking Apple in this way was a big deal. You should remember it was only two years ago that Apple was slamming Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The problem for Apple, and possibly Google too, is that both are under huge antitrust scrutiny. And as Epic tries to rally the industry, Apple could also be running out of friends.
Google keeps similar rules over app purchases, of course, but it's akso been more lenient. For example, Google also refused to waive that 30% fee on Facebook's app this week, but will allow Facebook to process payments through Facebook Pay. Apple said it won't.
It's also because of Apple that the 30% tax became the industry norm – another reason why it's attracting so much fire.
And with an industry of developers now turning against it and antitrust scrutiny hanging overhead, the next few weeks will show us just strong the walls around Apple's garden are. One thing is for certain: this war is far from over.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
You’re reading our series Summer’s Not Cancelled, which celebrates summer in this new normal. From rediscovering nature and time with friends and family, to virtual festivals and unforgettable staycations – summer’s still here, it’s just different.Packed like a sardine on Bournemouth or Brighton beach? No thanks. We’re all desperate to get away at the weekends or at the first glimpse of sunshine, but when everyone else in the country has the same idea it’s sometimes hard to escape the masses. Thankfully, a relaxing day trip can be possible when you apply the right know-how. The Lake District is overflowing, the Cotswolds should be renamed choc-a-bloc-wolds, and you can’t reach Cornwall without getting stuck on the A30. But get your head out of autopilot mode and consider the roads less travelled. Here’s how to nail a holiday, close enough to home to be easy, but far enough away from the maddening crowds for you to really unwind.Related...
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Do your homework and think outside the boxHeading to Whitstable and Margate? Why not take a short detour to find out what’s the deal with, well, Deal. It’s a fantastic alternative located right next door between Dover and Ramsgate that tends to have fewer crowds. This special seaside spot offers up plenty of quaint tea houses, cute Georgian houses, beaches dotted with wooden fishing boats, art galleries, and even a castle. It’s worth doing your homework around other popular spots in the country and find out what nearby areas you can check out while you’re in the area that might not be such a magnet for crowds. Swap busy Brighton for pretty Alfriston. Trade overcrowded Stonehenge for historic Avenbury. And get there nice and early to enjoy it before everyone else arrives. Take the road less travelledDid you know the UK has more than 200,000 miles of road ready to explore? Get raring to go behind the wheel in either your own car or a rental. Road trips make for the perfect post-lockdown escape, allowing you to social distance from others more easily. Drive through the country’s surprisingly picturesque road system and take in breathtaking landscapes from the comfort of your seat.From country lanes bordered by hedgerows to serpentine roads through glorious peaks, even a stretch of motorway tarmac shadowed by towering gorges, dream of driving on some of the UK’s most scenic routes, like Norfolk Coast or Black Mountain Pass in Wales. And try to avoid the M25 at all costs.Related...
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Explore the unexplored Overcrowding in beauty spots can become a big problem, but it’s easy to forget that over 90% of the UK isn’t built upon. Many of us are itching to seek out quieter areas and have a greater appreciation for the natural beauty around us. This new, adventurous spirit can help struggling local businesses in rural areas.Take the Lake District. It might hog all the spotlight, but why not consider the North York Moors, arguably one of the most underrated UK national parks. What the North York Moors lack in elegance they make up for with sheer rugged power. Expect wild, windswept and desolate vistas. Worried about 2m distancing? Here you can have two miles.Or go discover one of the UK’s 34 designated “areas of outstanding natural beauty” that’s not already on your radar, the Mendip or Quantock Hills in Somerset, say. Just don’t come ill-prepared. Be sure to pack the right type of footwear, wear suitable clothing and bring snacks, lots of snacks.Related...
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Embrace walking and cycling like never beforeThere’s no better way to awaken from your lockdown slumber than striding it out on a stretch of coastal footpath or powering up hills on a bike with the wind in your hair. Now that we’re a cycle-loving nation, why not try killing two birds with one stone on your next trip away? Combine exercise, fun-filled activities and taking in the sights at the same time. Love the Cotswolds but not the crowds? Prepare to be bowled over by Bewl Water’s outstanding natural beauty on the Kent / Sussex border instead. Get the best of both worlds by taking the cycling paths into forests and calming lakes. while around the reservoir, there are boat cruises, fishing and watersport activities that the whole family can enjoy. Take this time to focus on the activity at hand to properly unwind. Mindfulness doesn’t get better than this.Related...
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Pack a picnicYou’re bound to get hungry when you’re on the road and depending on location not all cafes, shops and restaurants may have re-opened yet. So come prepared, pack a picnic and save money with homemade grub. Bring a variety of items that’ll store well and things that are easily portable like sandwiches, wraps, sausage rolls, pastries, fruit and chopped vegetables with dips. Factor in some treats too if you’re travelling with kids to keep them (and you) happy and full. Related...
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Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now. A former minister led calls for the government to rethink computer modelling that disproportionately downgraded the A-level results of poorer students. Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said in a post on his website on Friday he had urged education secretary Gavin Williamson to “look again” at the algorithm used by the regulator Ofqual in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown. The results sparked a furious backlash from youngsters, teachers and parents this week, after almost 40% of results were downgraded, with private school students benefiting in comparison to those at state schools. Though the number of passes and top grades increased overall, some students’ predicted marks were slashed by up to two grades. It has left thousands scrambling for a university place via clearing and many others blocked from taking up long-hoped-for places at top institutions. Loughton admitted “hugely disappointed students” were now in “extraordinarily distressing” circumstances, despite their hard work. He went on to say: “I have made the point to ministers that they should look at the algorithm again for those who have missed out on their place in further education, and also that assessed exams/mocks be the primary basis for appeal.” Williamson made an eleventh hour concession on Wednesday to allow students to appeal and base their result on their mock exam grade if the final result was worse. It came after a major U-turn by the Scottish Government saw its downgraded results for Highers exams revoked. Thousands of young people also took part in a protest outside Downing Street on Friday, calling for Williamson to resign. Rob Halfon, chairman of the Commons’ education select committee, meanwhile, called on Ofqual to urgently meet with schools. “I am worried about it because some figures suggest that disadvantaged students have been penalised again,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.“I am also worried about further education colleges because they have been improving in recent years and yet they seem also to have suffered under this grading system.“If the model has penalised disadvantaged groups this is very serious and if it has disadvantaged colleges that has to be looked at. Ofqual will have to adjust the grades.”He later told HuffPost UK the government should “broaden the appeals system” and ensure that all charges for any appeal were scrapped. He said: “The government needs to make it absolutely crystal clear, to universities particularly, that they have to be flexible, without a shadow of a doubt, given what has gone on.” Ofqual has insisted the algorithm was fair. Shadow education secretary Kate Green, meanwhile, warned there could be a “deluge” of appeals and it may prove impossible to get them all processed in time for September start dates. “I am concerned that if we have a deluge of appeals, which I think is quite likely given the fiasco we have seen over the last day-and-a-half, there just won’t be time for students to have those appeals processed and completed, and universities will fill up those places,” she told The World at One.She added: “As a one-off measure, we have to do something for these young people otherwise we are writing them off for the whole of their life chances.“I think it is right that this year we take exceptional measures, give those young people every possible opportunity to progress with their lives and make use of teacher assessments where we can’t be confident that algorithm and the government’s model has delivered fairness to very, very large numbers of students.”Related...
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The game maker is painting them as comic book brutes and monopolists.