After a maker of surveillance software was hacked, its leaked documents shed light on a shadowy global industry that has turned email theft into a terrifying — and lucrative — political weapon.
If you love technology, it may be time for a group hug: This year has been rough for consumer technology.
From exploding smartphones and hoverboards to the proliferation of fake news on social media, many of our tech hardware, software and web products suffered embarrassing failures. Behemoths like Google, Facebook and Samsung Electronics were on the firing line as a result.
Like so many bright, young entrepreneurs these days, Isaac Choi arrived here last year, set up shop and promised employees that he would lead them to the Silicon Valley dream.
That dream is turning out mostly to be a mirage.
In an unusual alliance between a traditional automaker and a technology company, Ford Motor and Google on Wednesday joined to lead a coalition of companies that advocate federal approval of driverless cars in the near future. By teaming up to promote regulations that favor fully-autonomous vehicles, Ford and Google may be moving toward closer cooperation on the actual development of driverless models.
From the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, Apple created more than a decade’s worth of new gadgets to fuel its historic growth. But the technology company’s dazzling 13-year run of quarterly revenue growth ended this week — a casualty of Apple’s already immense size, weakness in key global markets like China and the lack of another hot product to pry open the wallets of customers.
Federal regulators approved Charter Communications’ $65.5 billion acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, enabling the creation of a new cable giant as the industry focuses more on broadband as traditional TV declines. Yet, the orders to approve the deals were coupled with many restrictions that illustrate how regulators are increasingly using their power to further policy goals that are not covered by current regulations for the industry.
Mark Zuckerberg is clear about his vision for Facebook: He wants to triple the size of his social network, which now has 1.6 billion members. But to reach that new audience, he has to find a way to change telecommunications networks to make connecting to the Internet more affordable, since many of those would-be Facebook users live in developing countries.
Media and entertainment companies want to help shape the next entertainment platform: virtual reality.
Over the last several months, companies including Condé Nast and Vice Media have delved into the technology as a new frontier for storytelling and a potential outlet for selling ads. They have forged partnerships with companies that make virtual reality headsets and software makers that broadcast events in virtual reality, and are trying to figure out how best to create virtual reality content.
WASHINGTON — President Obama will announce on Friday his support for opening the market for cable set-top boxes, singling out the devices in millions of homes as a clunky and outdated symbol of corporate power over consumers as he introduces a broad federal effort to increase competition.
In an unusual step, Mr. Obama will weigh in personally on a pending proposal at the Federal Communications Commission, filing comments that encourage it to loosen cable companies’ grip on the boxes. And he will sign an executive order calling on every federal agency to send him proposals within 60 days for steps they can take to promote competition in a range of industries and better protect consumers.
JUST a week after Facebook released the Oculus Rift, the first high-powered virtual reality device for consumers, a less publicized contender has arrived: the HTC Vive.
Similar to the Rift, the Vive — a joint development by the Taiwanese manufacturer HTC and the video game distribution company Valve — is a virtual reality headset that connects to a powerful computer.
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — From a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a loud pop signals the catapult launch of a small fixed-wing drone that is designed to carry medical supplies to remote locations almost 40 miles away.
The drones are the brainchild of a small group of engineers at a Silicon Valley start-up called Zipline, which plans to begin operating a service with them for the government of Rwanda in July. The fleet of robot planes will initially cover more than half the tiny African nation, creating a highly automated network to shuttle blood and pharmaceuticals to remote locations in hours rather than weeks or months.
When severe weather passed through the Atlanta area early this month, Brad Nitz, a meteorologist for a local television station, WSB-TV, fed viewers live video updates on the station’s website, as he has done for years.
WASHINGTON — A furious legal battle over digital privacy in the age of the iPhone ended on Monday with no clear winner — only lingering questions over what will happen the next time the government tries to force Apple to help break into one of its own phones.
“I stood alone in an empty room beside a ferocious dinosaur,” writes Brian X. Chen. He isn’t happy about it. Yet.
Mr. Chen is reviewing the first games for Oculus Rift, the virtual reality, or VR, system released by Facebook on Monday. He does so with a certain crabby excitement: It requires a $1,500 computer-and-goggles setup that is something of an eyesore, the rig doesn’t fit, and some of the early games don’t feel as if they need this elaborate production.
Microsoft set out to learn about “conversational understanding” by creating a bot designed to have automated discussions with Twitter users, mimicking the language they use.
What could go wrong?
In San Francisco, as in most cities, parking is an expensive daily grind that saps the soul. So a year and a half ago, when I discovered the valet-parking app Luxe, the heavens parted, choirs began singing and double rainbows colored the sky. This, I was convinced, could be the next big thing.
In the late 1960s, an undergraduate psychology student at Wellesley College named Martha McClintock noticed something interesting: Women who spent a majority of their time together tended to get their periods around the same time. She suspected that menstruating bodies could influence one another somehow, but it was just a hunch. So she asked 135 of her fellow students to keep track of their cycles. Three times that year, she quizzed them about their period start and which women they socialized with the most.
SAN FRANCISCO — If the F.B.I. wins its court fight to force Apple’s help in unlocking an iPhone, the agency may run into yet another roadblock: Apple’s engineers.
Apple employees are already discussing what they will do if ordered to help law enforcement authorities. Some say they may balk at the work, while others may even quit their high-paying jobs rather than undermine the security of the software they have already created, according to more than a half-dozen current and former Apple employees.
ALPHAGO, the artificial intelligence system built by the Google subsidiary DeepMind, has just defeated the human champion, Lee Se-dol, four games to one in the tournament of the strategy game of Go. Why does this matter? After all, computers surpassed humans in chess in 1997, when IBM’s Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov. So why is AlphaGo’s victory significant?
SAN FRANCISCO — For the last few years, the spotlight in start-up investing has largely shone on those who poured money into a company when it was already well along on a growth path. It turns out that spotlight may have been misdirected.
While some investors are throwing giant sums into more mature start-ups like Uber and Airbnb at soaring valuations, it is the venture capitalists who identify a promising company at its infancy and bet on its growth who often come out on top.