Last week in tech: Facebook and Uber probably wish they could hide under a sheet of ketchup
Also, be sure to check out the latest episode of our podcast.
Right now is a tumultuous time in the tech world. A self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian for the first time, and we found out that our Facebook data was less secure than we expected. Oh, and there’s a Kickstarter that’s selling sheets of ketchup meant to be put on a hamburger like a tomato-flavored fruit roll-up. It’s all a lot to process, but you can get caught up.
Your first step should be to check out the Last Week in Tech Podcast (subscribe on iTunes or check out the Sound Cloud below). In this week’s show, we cover the two biggest stories, which we also covered online. You can read some details from the fatal Uber crash here, and then check out our deeper look at what we expect from human drivers in autonomous cars. You can also check out our guide to if and how you should #deletefacebook in light of the enormous Cambridge Analytica scandal that’s still unfolding right now.
Now, keep scrolling for the rest of the stuff you may have missed.
Apple is announcing new products Tuesday
There’s an Apple event this week, which means new objects to discuss. The prevailing rumor is that we’re going to see new, cheaper iPads aimed at the education sector. Apple has some catching up to do in that space, since Google has roughly 60 percent of the market share with its Chromebooks, compared to less than 19 percent across MacOS and iOS devices. The company will probably not announce an official version of this $100+ leather case that lets you tote around your HomePod like a bowling ball.
Another Apple rumor floating around suggests that we’ll get a “foldable” iPhone in 2020. The idea is that it works as a phone when it’s folded, and a tablet when unfurled. They should make one you can fold a bunch of times and it works as a boogie board when it’s all the way expanded.
Moog made a $5 app version of its $3,500 synthesizer
Apps have replaced a lot of things, like calculators and cameras, but now audio company Moog has created a $5 version of its iconic Minimoog Model D audio synthesizer. It’s a fun way to make music on a mobile device and pretend you’re Trent Reznor while you’re commuting. You can pick through a library of sounds and presets for making your musical masterpiece.
The NBA wants to sell you the final quarter of basketball games for $1
We’re growing a collective thick skin when it comes to microtransactions as companies try to sell us smaller and smaller bits of entertainment. The NBA is reportedly testing a feature that lets users stream the last quarter of a basketball game for just 99 cents. It’s not a great deal for every game, obviously, but Q4 can get pretty exciting later in the season or even during the playoffs. Maybe the MLB can do the same thing, only the stream is exclusively that part during the 7th inning stretch where the mascots race around the bases and they all fall down. Love that part.
You can pretend to live in the HBO series Silicon Valley thanks to a VR experience
Silicon Valley VR
HBO has plenty of shows that are begging for a VR experience. Who wouldn’t want to ride a dragon around in Game of Thrones or sling hot lead in Westworld. However, it’s the tech-based, very R-rated comedy Silicon Valley that got the immersive treatment. You can watch the trailer here (it has bad language as you might expect if you have ever seen the show), but it looks rather fun. Just be careful about using your Hooli headset for fear that it might explode. Click here to play a VR game meant to make fun of VR games.
If you want an even nerdier VR pursuit, you can hold out for the Catan VR experience, which is based on the extremely popular board game in which you trade lumber for sheep (I’ve never actually played it).
Digital download sales are losing to Vinyl, CDs, and cassettes
In 2017, the music industry made $5.7 billion from streaming, which is more than half its total income. Digital downloads, however, fell to $1.3 billion. Interestingly, however, physical media sales checked in at $1.5 billion. While we can be relatively sure that streaming number will go up, it will be interesting to see if physical media can retain its ability to sell. I personally still buy vinyl from bands I like and want to support, but I rarely play it. Each record is liking having a Pop vinyl figure of my favorite albums.
Instagram knows you’re mad about seeing old posts and will (kinda) fix it
If you’re frustrated with seeing old posts float through your Instagram feed—and feeling like a creep when you like a post someone uploaded three days ago—then some relief may be coming. Last week, Instagram announced that it would tweak the algorithm to prioritize more recent posts. Of course, there’s no actual insight into what that means, but keep an eye out for more timely content in your feed from here on out. Still, you probably shouldn’t expect a truly chronological feedback anytime soon.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds hit mobile devices
One of the most popular PC and Xbox games in the world just made its way to your iOS and Android mobile devices. The battle royale experience is surprisingly smooth and loyal to the original on the small screen. I played some this weekend on my iPhone 8 Plus, and died due to my own ineptitude rather than lag or clunky controls.
Walmart might equip stores with smart carts and drones to help people shop
Brick-and-mortar retail stores are having a hard 2018, but Walmart is reportedly thinking about the future with a couple interesting patents for in-store tech. The filing includes sensors that know what’s in your cart so you don’t have to go through a formal checkout process, as well as drones that can fly around the store and show shoppers were to find things like chicken fingers and other drones.