Big Tech &
SoundCloud finally lets more musicians monetize four years later (2 minute read)
Musicians over the age of 18, who pay Soundcloud $8 a month for hosting, and get over 5000 streams per month will now be able to monetize their music through ads on the platform. The company moves very slowly for a tech company, having rolled out a beta of this feature 4 years ago. They aren't doing very well financially, having laid off 40% of their staff last year, and they aren't expected to be profitable until 2020.
The 5 biggest announcements from the Google Pixel 3 event (2 minute read)
Google announced a 5.5-inch Pixel 3 and a 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL for $799 and $899 respectively (available on October 18th). It is also rolling out Google Duplex (the cool AI feature where you can have an AI assistant call and make reservations and appointments for you) in November. The Pixel 3 will also offer a feature that automatically screens out spam phone calls. Google also introduced the Pixel Slate, a 12.3-inch tablet for $599 with an optional keyboard for $199 and an optional stylus for $99. Google also announced Home Hub, a smart speaker with a screen, which integrates with Google Photos (so it can be used as a picture frame), Youtube, and Google Assistant. It's available for $149 and is available on October 22nd.
Cruip (HTML/CSS Templates)
These are some free, nice-looking product landing page templates. Every template has a live demo, but the site requires you to sign up with Google, Facebook, or Twitter to download them. If you're planning on launching a side project soon, these will probably be helpful.
Gamedev.js Weekly (Newsletter)
A cool newsletter about game development sent out every Friday by Andrzej Mazur of Enclave Games. Definitely worth a look for anyone interested in video games!
Leaked Transcript of Private Meeting Contradicts Google's Official Story on China (5 minute read)
When Project Dragonfly, Google's censored search engine built for China, became public knowledge a couple of months ago, Google said that it was just "an exploration" without "any plans to launch". Internal documents have leaked showing that the plan was actually to launch as soon as possible, once they received approval from Beijing. Ben Gomes, Google's search engine chief, called China "the most interesting market in the world today" and said that it would bring Google its "next billion users". The project has been worked on in secret since spring 2017 by 300 employees, most of whom are working on this full time. Employees were promised, "we are working with you to make sure your careers are not affected by this. The difficult part is to maintain motivation on such a long haul." The full text of the leaked document is inside.
CRISPR Cures Inherited Disorder in Mice (3 minute read)
Researchers have used CRISPR gene editing to eliminate a genetic liver disease in mice. This breakthrough means that CRISPR might be usable in human fetuses even before traditional gene editing (which requires replacing the full gene). CRISPR is very targeted, it's like using find and replace to fix a typo rather than retyping the entire document (like in traditional gene editing). It's worth noting that this study used a new version of CRISPR called base editing, which doesn't require that the DNA be cut like the original CRISPR, leading to less unintended genetic consequences.
Alexa, Should We Trust You? (10 minute read)
By the end of this year, there will be 100 million smart speakers installed worldwide, with Amazon and Google pushing their speakers so hard that some analysts believe they might be losing money on each unit sold. Some people think that voice assistants are just a change in form factor, that we are just doing things that we would otherwise do with a screen, but the key difference is that we don't just communicate through them, we communicate with them. The author mentions telling her Google Assistant that she "was lonely", and the assistant responded "I wish I had arms so I could give you a hug. But for now, maybe a joke or some music might help." Voices are much more intimate than screens, and our evolution has not prepared us to fully grasp the idea that the thing that we are talking to is not really human. The advance of voice assistants should worry us a lot more than the advance of something like a smartphone, once they become emotionally savvy, they could wield an incredible amount of power over us.