There’s a ton of tech news to get to! Maybe you didn’t get to it all, because who’s got time for that? Well, that’d be us — here are a handful of stories from the week that was that might affect you!
Around this time last month, Facebook said they would release a tool notifying users if they engaged with a Facebook page that was created by the Internet Research Agency, a state-backed Russian agency. That tool went up last Friday and can be used to see if you liked or followed any of the offending pages, which were created by the IRA to inflame divisions within the United States ahead of the 2016 presidential election. You won’t see the specific posts you interacted with, however.
Don’t forget — few were immune from being targeted by the IRA’s content. Four of the pages created by the Russian agency were called ‘LGBT United,’ ‘Being Patriotic,’ ‘Blacktivist,’ and ‘Secured Borders.’ The main goal seems to have been to destabilize the United States by making public discourse increasingly pointed and violent.
Usually when users get mad at Apple, the company just rides it out until everyone who complained goes out and buys Apple devices again anyway. Not this time — after last week’s revelations that Apple had been using updates to slow down older iPhones (in an effort to preserve battery life, says the company), Apple decided this week to not only issue an apology, but to cut the price of a battery replacement for any iPhone 6 or 7 to $29 from $79. That prompted third-party DIY repair firm iFixit to cut their DIY battery replacement kits to $29 for the iPhone 7 and $24 for the iPhone 6 and older models.
Because the slowdown issue affects phones with batteries that have degraded over time, a replaced battery should bring the phones back up to full speed. In their apology, Apple fully explained why slowing down phones is important to preserving battery life in older phones. However, we do have to point out that Apple issued a classic ‘we’re sorry you got mad’ apology, saying, “We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize.” Apple still faces multiple lawsuits in the United States and could face criminal charges in France, where it’s possible Apple violated laws against planned obsolescence — the act of restricting functionality of older devices to push consumers to buy new devices.
Games are really big now! Even though the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a torn of hardware power and isn’t pushing out high-res gaming, games still tend to be large — Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was 13.4 GB. Some third-party developers have been planning ambitious games that would be too big for the 32 GB cards that Nintendo currently sells to them. Nintendo had planned to make 64 GB cards available by late next year, but according to the Wall Street Journal, that won’t happen until 2019. That means any publisher with a game over 32 GB will either need to pare it down, delay it to 2019, or hope that Switch owners will be willing to download some or all of the game to their own microSD cards.
We didn’t really touch on it in our 2018 predictions post, but we should have — next year is the year tech companies are going to fight with each other a lot. Unfortunately, those fights are rarely going to produce good news for us. Case in point: we’re not sure who did it, but YouTube is now no longer available on Fire TV. This little breakup was scheduled for January 1, but apparently, someone high up at Google or Amazon just couldn’t wait to start the next round of fighting. YouTube can still be accessed on Fire TV through a web browser, but the YouTube app itself is now gone.