Tech reporter Alexandra Sternlicht filling in for David, here.
The Microsoft versus Apple deathmatch was the classic rivalry in the days of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. More recently, Apple and Google were archenemies, duking it out as iPhone vs. Android polarized smartphone users, and we’ve seen Google and Amazon increasingly encroach on each other’s turf. But this week made it clear Apple vs. Meta is going to be one of the key Big Tech battles that define the next phase of computing.
—Meta has been driving the push into virtual reality computing since its acquisition of Oculus in 2014, which has matured into Quest headsets (retailing direct-to-consumers at a $299.99 baseline) and the company’s Horizon Worlds, a gamified reality that has received devastating reviews.
—This week Apple unveiled its Vision Pro headset, which was greeted with awe by many reviewers (even if there are doubts that the $3,500 device will be a hit with mainstream consumers in the near future). Apple even tried to hijack the narrative, by rebranding the headset experience as “spatial computing.”
—There’s no love lost between these two companies. Recall that Apple kneecapped Meta’s advertising business in 2021 when it rolled out new privacy settings that prevented Facebook and Instagram from using the customer targeting techniques that marketers spend the most money on.
—On Thursday, at Meta’s first all-hands meeting since 2020, CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged the ski-goggle-wearing elephant in the room, saying Apple’s new headset “could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want,” per the Verge.
—“Every demo that they showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself,” Zuckerberg also reportedly said in his critique of the Vision Pro.
—The major difference between the Vision Pro and Meta’s Quest headsets is that Meta brings users into a cartoonified metaverse (where they historically have lacked limbs) and Apple’s headset integrates tech into users’ space, like Safari tabs lying between tables in this guy’s office.
—Some observers speculate that the Vision Pro’s steep price tag may create an opportunity for Meta to claim the low end of the market, with its less expensive Quest headsets. But now that Apple has shown its cards, it’s up to Zuck and Co. to respond with a product instead of potshots. Your move, Zuckerberg.
Hot take: As much as we love a spicy rivalry, Apple and Meta kind of need each other. Instagram would be an aesthetic-driven wasteland without iPhone. And iPhone—maybe—would be less addicting without Instagram. Is it possible the companies could maintain (even enrich) this frenemy relationship behind VR goggles? In this virtual reality, people would use the Apple goggles to hang in Meta Horizon Worlds. Maybe.
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Data Sheet’s daily news section was written and curated by Andrea Guzman.
Binance.US pauses dollar deposits. Users of the U.S.-based subsidiary of Binance have just a few days to withdraw any dollars from the platform before the company’s banking partners cut them off. The world’s largest crypto exchange said late Thursday that its payment and banking partners decided to pause “USD fiat channels” after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued its parent company earlier this week, alleging it broke U.S. securities laws. Binance argues that the charges aren’t justified, telling customers that their assets were fully backed by reserves. For now, though, the U.S. exchange will soon lose its ability to deal in U.S. dollars and will operate solely as a crypto exchange.
OpenAI gets hit with a defamation lawsuit. In a first-of-its-kind case, OpenAI is facing a defamation lawsuit from a radio host in Georgia who says ChatGPT inaccurately said that he was accused of embezzlement. The false accusation was fed to Fred Riehl, an editor at a gun publication called AmmoLand, who was reporting on an actual legal case in Washington, Bloomberg reports. Generative A.I. programs like ChatGPT have been known to “hallucinate” and share falsities, and ChatGPT’s homepage informs users that it “may occasionally generate incorrect information.”
GM’s vehicles are the latest welcome to Tesla charging stations. To qualify for a share of federal dollars on the table as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $7.5 billion investment in EV charging, Tesla has to open its network of Superchargers to others. The first announcement came with Ford last month, and now GM has announced that its EVs can get powered up at Tesla’s stations, bringing customer concerns of overcrowding. The agreements also bring a blow to the industry connector standard known as CSS, since GM and Ford will adopt Tesla’s connector standard, the North American charging standard (NACS).
—The increase in Netflix shares since the company started its password-sharing crackdown in the U.S. on May 23. The Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix saw more new subscriptions between May 25 and May 28 than in any other four-day period since analytics company Antenna began collecting such data in 2019.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
A Waymo self-driving car hit and killed a ‘small dog’ near a San Francisco homeless encampment. The company sends ‘sincere condolences’ to the unknown owner, by Andrea Guzman
Twitter cofounder Evan Williams says Elon Musk’s purchase of the company made him ‘sad’— ‘He’s brilliant. But no one’s brilliant on everything’, by Chloe Taylor
Google’s union is speaking out against the company’s remote work crackdown: ‘Workers’ professionalism has been disregarded’, Prarthana Prakash
Motorola ditched cell phones and found a lucrative second act. Now it’s one of tech’s biggest turnaround stories, by Stephen Gandel
BEFORE YOU GO
Access your music offline. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted about tests on a new feature called “Your Offline Mix,” a playlist that saves “a mix of your recently played songs for when the vibe is high, but your connection is low.”
The playlist, which appears to last for three-and-a-half hours, has no timeline for when it will launch just yet. The audio streaming app currently lets users manually download playlists and albums for offline listening, which rival Apple Music also provides. Meanwhile, YouTube Music is ahead of the curve with an Offline Mixtape that’s been available since 2019.
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