Bytes: What’s new in tech
Apple’s HomePod delayed until 2018
Apple has “hit pause” on its much-anticipated smart speaker, said Tripp Mickle in The Wall Street Journal. The HomePod, which was expected to ship this month, will now be available early next year. The delay follows a cluster of Apple products missing their “promised ship date,” including the AirPods headphones, the Apple Watch, and iPad pencil and keyboard. The company’s iPhone X was also “plagued by production problems” and landed in stores six weeks late. The HomePod delay gives newly released speakers from archrivals Amazon and Google the run of the market during the holiday shopping season.
Amazon abandons cable TV plan
Amazon has scrapped a plan to launch an online streaming service bundling popular U.S. broadcast and cable networks “because it believes it cannot make enough money on such a service,” said Jessica Toonkel and Lisa Richwine in Reuters.com. The world’s biggest e-retailer had been attempting to build an à la carte television package, but will now focus on “building out” its Amazon Channels platform so that Prime members can buy monthly subscriptions to individual networks. Amazon was “unable to convince key broadcast and basic cable networks to break with decades-old business models” to join its new service. Video has proved problematic for Amazon; the company has struggled to “change entrenched habits in the U.S. entertainment business in the same way it has done in retail, cloud computing, and other areas.”
Android phones track users
Android phones are secretly collecting users’ locations and sending the data to Google— “even when location services are disabled,” said Keith Collins in Qz.com. Since January, the latest Android phones and tablets have collected the addresses of nearby cell towers in order to “improve the speed and performance of message delivery,” according to Google. It’s not clear how a cell tower address could speed message delivery, however, and Google said it would end the collection practice after being contacted by Qz.com. “The privacy implications of the covert locationsharing practice are plain.” Triangulating data from several towers could locate a phone to within a quarter-mile radius; in urban areas, the location could be even more precise. That fact should trouble those “who turn off location services thinking they’re fully concealing their whereabouts.” ■