These are the Mac features exclusive to Apple Silicon


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A Mac with Apple Silicon inside isn’t just noticeably faster than their Intel counterparts; it’s capable of a few other exclusive features too. Here is what an Apple Silicon-based Mac can do that the Intel Macs can’t.

Intel machines still exist

At the moment, Apple sells a mix of Intel-based machines and an ever-increasing number of Apple Silicon-based Macs. Apple is amid a two-year transition to run its Mac lines entirely on Apple Silicon, but until then, there are existing machines available in the current lineup, on the second-hand market, and on sale as last-gen devices that use Intel chips.

This inevitably brings up the question of what are the differences — other than pure performance — between an Apple processor and an Intel one.

At the time of publication, there are currently three Apple processors on the market. There is the M1, the M1 Pro, and the M1 Max. Over time, this list will undoubtedly expand.

Apple’s processors have plenty of benefits in terms of performance, but as Apple can control every facet of these chips, there is currently a subset of Mac features exclusive only to Apple’s chipsets.

Sets Apple Silicon apart

As Apple has integrated its image signal processor into M1 series processors, it has afforded improved performance of the built-in FaceTime camera. Notably, users can enable Portrait Mode on a Mac running Apple Silicon.

Portrait mode

Portrait Mode on FaceTime

Users can create an artificial bokeh over their background by going to Control Center and clicking video effects while on a FaceTime call. This elevated look helps give a more high-end appearance to video calls and can take away from perhaps otherwise untidy rooms.

Maps on Apple Silicon

Some cities in Apple Maps have more details on Apple Silicon

In Maps, an interactive glove view is only available on Apple Silicon, in which users can spin the globe and seamlessly zoom in and out. Some cities — i.e., San Fransisco, Los Angeles, New York, and London — have much more detail as well, with trees, roads, crosswalks, landmarks, and more viewable when zoomed in.

Apple’s Neural Engine aids a few speech features too. Apple Silicon machines have on-device dictation, which doesn’t require uploading the audio to the cloud for analysis and therefore doesn’t need an internet connection.

There is also text-to-speech support for additional languages — Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

With Apple Silicon, Apple no longer needed the T2 chip found in its Intel machines. Apple baked all of the T2 security and performance features directly into the processor and then some.

This is what enabled Apple Silicon machines to work with Apple’s wireless Magic Keyboard with Touch ID.

Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID can be used on Intel Macs, but only as a keyboard. The Touch ID authentication won’t work.

Finally, since the M1-series processors are based on the same framework as Apple’s A-series processors primarily used in iPhone and iPad, iOS and iPadOS apps run are able to run natively on Macs with Apple Silicon.

Eve Home for Mac

Eve Home for Mac

Apps for iOS and iPadOS can run on Intel Macs when packaged via Catalyst, but this isn’t necessary for Apple Silicon. This means more iOS and iPadOS apps are available on Apple Silicon Macs than on Intel, such as Eve’s Home app.

This is just the beginning

Apple isn’t shunning Intel chips in a shameless ploy to push its chips, but by having such tight control over the processor, it can do some cool things.

Some of these features may be small and inconsequential, but the list will only continue to grow as new Macs launch and Apple hits its stride with Mac-specific chips.

AirPods with Charging Case drop to $79, the cheapest online price available


AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

Beating Black Friday deals by $10, AT&T has AirPods 2 on sale for $79, delivering the cheapest online price we’ve seen on the wireless earphones.

AirPods $79 deal

AT&T’s $79 promotion delivers a $50 discount on Apple’s newly reduced $129 MSRP. This sub-$80 price is $10 cheaper than Walmart’s Black Friday deal on AirPods, making it the cheapest online price we’ve seen.

Free standard shipping is also included, with delivery estimates indicating arrival before Christmas. Please check delivery dates for your specific location, however.

Although the listing does not specifically state these AirPods with Charging Case are the second-generation model, the UPC listed on AT&T’s product page (190199098428) matches the second-gen AirPods.

Other AirPods deals

  • AirPods Pro with MagSafe Charging Case: $197 ($52 off) 
  • AirPods Max (Silver): $479 ($70 off)

Even more tech deals

Cheap Apple Prices

AppleInsider and Apple Authorized Resellers are also running specials on hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the products, but also throw in bonus savings on accessories, software and more. Here are just a few of the deals for the weekend:

Why the founder-friendly era needs a ‘VP of Nothing’

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

While we have certainly talked through what Jack Dorsey’s resignation means for Twitter (and now how it impacts Block), I’m still thinking about a few lines from his resignation tweet.

“There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led,’” Dorsey wrote. “Ultimately I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.” Dorsey added that he believes “it’s critical that a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction.”

This is a bold statement: Success as a founder can look like hiring smart enough people so that you are no longer relevant to making the company work day in, day out. If you go on vacation, and your team can’t function without Slacking you every few minutes, that is more representative of the strength of the company than the strength of the team.

Last month, I wrote about the importance of establishing the difference — both in ownership and incentive — between a founder, a founding team member, an adviser, an investor, an angel investor and an early employee. This week, I want to switch gears and talk about when it’s time to unlearn those titles, or at the very least, evolve from them. As Floodgates partner Iris Choi mentioned in our recent podcast about founder friendliness, founders eventually become the “VP of nothing.”

No one will disagree with the notion that a startup needs to be successful beyond its founder, but the process of shifting that individual from essential to non-essential can be uncomfortable (especially in our current environment that’s hyper-friendly toward founders). My take, as I argued earlier, is that we’ll start to see due diligence change to address more than how a founder views their sector in a decade. Entrepreneurs could be pushed on their ability to hire, change their minds and understand when it is time to walk away. Removing the idea from the identity so that the company doesn’t feel innately tied to a founder is healthy for the longevity of the company but will require some real conversations on attribution.

I interviewed founders and investors to get a temperature check on how comfortable they are with the idea of recommending, and executing, on the promise of decentralized authority in this market. For my full take on this topic, check out my TechCrunch+ column, Founders need to uncouple their own idea from its creator. Alex and Amanda also chimed in on the topic, arguing precedent, and that founders aren’t rockstars so we should stop treating them as such.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about rebranding season, accidental churn and freshly venture-backed layoffs. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @nmasc_ or on Instagram @natashathereporter.

Tis the season to rebrand

Pixel art coins different sizes. Vector illustration.

Image Credits: PixelChoice (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Jack Dorsey is taking up a lot of space. Days after the Twitter co-founder resigned from the social media platform, his other company, Square, rebranded to Block. The name change has allegedly been in the works for over a year, but it feels timely given that Facebook changed its corporate branding to Meta just over a month ago.

Here’s what to know: Block is supposed to encompass Square’s growing suite of products, which includes music streaming service Tidal, Cash App, TBD, and of course, Square. It’s also a nod to the company’s interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. I don’t hate the name, but if you’re in the mood for a chuckle, just take a look at its executive leadership page.

All crypto, all the time:

And the startup of the week is…

Image Credits: vincepenman / Getty Images

Butter! The startup wants to help every subscription company deal with customers who accidentally churn — pun intended — due to payment failures. The product isn’t sales tech, but rather a fintech service that detects problems with renewals or sign-up issues where charges are declined due to being attempted in another country.

Here’s what to know, per CEO and co-founder Vijay Menon: The international payments failure market is underserved by some of the largest payment providers, such as Stripe, which focus on domestic services. Butter wants to serve growing markets like Brazil, India and Mexico. Before he even launched his startup, the entrepreneur helped Microsoft recover over 10 million Xbox live subscriptions, chalking up to more than $100 million in recovered revenue. Now, Butter has $7 million to tackle even more.

Honorable mentions:

A raise and a layoff

Puzzle house with a missing piece. The acquisition or construction comfortable dream home. Mortgage loan purchase real estate. Arrangement premises repair. Availability and cheapness. Finish building (Puzzle house with a missing piece. The acquisition

Image Credits: Andrii Yalanskyi (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

It’s more common than you think. This week, digital mortgage lender Better.com announced that it is getting a $750 million cash infusion ahead of an impending public market debut. Then, one day later, it announced layoffs, confirming that it cut 9% of its overall staff.

Here’s what to know: As Mary Ann Azevedo reports, it’s possible that the layoffs were a condition to getting that deal approved — but it still feels harsh to add millions to your balance sheet and cut staff within the same breath. The layoffs are mainly taking place in the United States and India. While we’re nowhere near 2020’s slew of unicorn layoffs, rising concerns about the omicron variant and a toughening market for some sectors could mean more instability to come.

Onto the next one:

TechCrunch Gift Guide 2021

TechCrunch Gift Guide 2021

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

Cannabis and banking vets launch credit card for dispensaries

Apple announces the 2021 App Store Award winners and most downloaded apps of the year

Spotify’s Wrapped 2021 arrives with artist video messages, Blend and even a game

Seen on TechCrunch+

With $3B expected in 2021, Singapore is becoming a fintech capital

IoT data collector Samsara’s IPO will be fun to watch

Black Friday data adds to evidence e-commerce growth is slowing

Super app Grab starts trading on supersized SPAC combination

Product-led growth and signal substitution syndrome: Bringing it all together

Hope you all have a weekend as good as Bret Taylor’s week,

N

This Week in Apps: Apple and Google’s best apps of the year, Amazon Appstore fails, Twitter’s new CEO

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.

This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and suggestions about new apps and games to try, too.

Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters

Apple announced its top apps and games of 2021

Image Credits: Apple

Apple this week released its anticipated annual list of the best apps and games of the year across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch. This year, children’s app maker Toca Boca won iPhone App of the Year for “Toca Life World,” and Riot Games’ “League of Legends: Wild Rift” was the iPhone Game of the Year. Other winners included iPad App of the Year “LumaFusion” from LumaTouch; iPad Game of the Year “MARVEL Future Revolution” from Netmarble; Mac App of the Year “Craft,” from Luki Labs Limited; Mac Game of the Year “Myst,” from Cyan; Apple TV App of the Year “DAZN,” from DAZN Group; Apple TV Game of the Year “Space Marshals 3,” from Pixelbite; Apple Watch App of the Year “Carrot Weather,” from Grailr; and the Apple Arcade Game of the Year: “Fantasian,” from Mistwalker.

What’s interesting about this year’s group of winners is the subtle statement Apple is making with its editorial picks. For instance, Toca Boca — which has produced more than 40 kids’ apps to date and celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year — is a reminder that developers are building long-term businesses on the App Store and Apple helped play a role in supporting that success. Other winners are those that compete with Apple’s own first-party apps, including Carrot Weather (which also uses weather data from Apple-owned Dark Sky), Pages rival Craft and iMovie competitor LumaFusion.

These are not necessarily coincidences. 2021 was a year that’s seen much backlash and upheaval for the App Store, which has faced increased regulatory scrutiny, new legislation in global markets and various lawsuits over the App Store’s commission-based business model — including the ongoing one with Epic Games, now under appeal. As a result, Apple has adjusted and clarified its policies and even reduced its commissions in some cases, as dictated by the market demands and settlement agreements. But despite all these changes, the winning lineup reminds us that the quality of the apps on the App Store remains high.

Apple also released its year-end list of the most-downloaded apps, led by TikTok (iPhone’s top free app), Procreate Pocket (iPhone and iPad’s top paid app), Among Us! (iPhone and iPad’s top free game), Minecraft (iPhone and iPad’s top paid game), YouTube (iPad’s top free app) and The Oregon Trail (top Apple Arcade app.) The full lineup is here.

Google Play introduced its “Best of 2021” app awards, too

Image Credits: Google

Google Play also this week announced its own year-end list of the best apps and games on Google Play. This year, Google expanded its awards lineup to include apps and games on tablets, Wear OS and Google TV. Its U.S. winners included meditation app Balance as its app of the year and top game Pokémon UNITE. Meanwhile, Paramount+ and Garena Free Fire MAX won the user’s choice awards.

In 2020, Google’s award winners had reflected a world undergoing a pandemic, where stressed users had turned to apps and soothing games to relax — like top sleep app Loóna, which was last year’s “Best App,” or escapist games like winner Genshin Impact.

But with the early days of the pandemic now behind us, some of this year’s award winners were apps that focus on personal growth and creativity, instead of just relaxing or escaping. In addition to Best of 2021 app Balance, which offers personalized meditation, other personal development-styled winners include Moonly, an app for “harmonizing your life” with the lunar calendar; a “comedic relaxation” app, Laughscape; a hypnotherapy app for women, Clementine; better sleep app Sleep Cycle; mentorship community Mentor Spaces; habit tracker and planner Rabit; and an app for navigating grief from loss, Empathy.

Other winners showcased how we adapted to pandemic life, as with audio chatroom Clubhouse, tools for reducing screen time, like Speechify, or those for reconnecting with nature, like Blossom.

The full list of award winners is here.

The Amazon Appstore stopped working on Android 12 and almost no one cared

In a telling piece of news that may reflect how little traction the Amazon Appstore has with the general public, the Amazon-run Android marketplace stopped working on Android 12 devices over a month ago, and there’s been almost no media coverage until this week. On Monday, however, tech news site Liliputing finally called attention to the matter, which followed the October release of Android 12. It said that not only did the Amazon Appstore not run on Android 12 devices, apps and games also couldn’t be launched because of how the Appstore handles DRM. The site noted some 90-plus users had posted complaints in a thread on Amazon’s forums about the problem, to which Amazon’s moderators had only replied that the company was “investigating the issue.”

Amazon wouldn’t provide TechCrunch with any details as to what the underlying issues were either, only acknowledging the problem was impacting the “small number of Amazon Appstore users that upgraded to Android 12.” (Oof! Burn!) While, sure, Android users aren’t as quick to jump to new versions as iOS users are, that the entire Amazon Appstore would fail on the latest Android release makes us wonder if anyone at Amazon had even run the thing on a beta build ahead of Android 12’s launch at all? Or maybe they were too busy with that Microsoft deal to bother?

Platforms: Apple

  • As the holidays draw near, Apple’s iOS 15.2 beta 4 has been released to both developers and public testers. It also stopped signing iOS 15.1, making downloads and restores no longer possible.
  • A report by 9to5Mac pointed out how Apple said in a legal filing that it could collect commission on in-app purchases that take place outside its App Store when asking for an extension on the injunction resulting from the Epic Games lawsuit. The claim had been first spotted and tweeted by David Barnard, leading to the coverage. Apple of course wants more time to implement the required changes, and used this argument about non-App Store IAPs (among many, many other reasons) as why it should be granted the extra time. But it’s too soon to read into the filing’s statements as an indication of Apple’s future plans. Tapping into non-App Store payments in order to commission them is a complex matter and one that could open Apple up to increased liability due to fraudulent transactions. Sure, Apple may very well do that, but it also might not. But right now, this is only proof that Apple is trying really hard to get an extension, and nothing more.

Platforms: Google

Image Credits: Google

  • Google announced a suite of new features coming to Android devices this winter. This includes new widgets for YouTube Music and Google Play Books, and the new Google Photos Pets & People widget, as well as a new Memories feature in Google Photos where a curated selection of special events will appear in your photo grid. Google Assistant’s Family Bell feature also expanded from home devices to mobile, and Gboard added new emojis. Android Auto received a host of updates as well.
  • Google, whose Android Developers YouTube channel has now reached 1 million subscribers, offered a number of updates on Paging, Gradle, AndroidX, Media3, Emoji2, CameraX, App Startup, Accessibility and Wear OS in its latest video (see below).



E-commerce and Food Delivery

  • Swiggy, India’s top food delivery startup, announced this week it will invest $700 million into growing its express grocery delivery service Instamart. The service was only available in two cities last year but is now in 18, where it sees more than 1 million orders per week.

Fintech & Crypto

Image Credits: Meta

  • Messenger introduced a Venmo-like feature for splitting payments. Starting next week, the company will begin testing a way for U.S. users to split the cost of bills and expenses, which can be done evenly or by modifying the contribution amount for each individual.
  • NFT collectibles app VeVe Collectibles is leading the NFT trading space on mobile with more than $100 million in consumer spending, reports Sensor Tower. This puts it ahead of Fantastec, SWAP, OurSong and Sweet, which focus on collectibles rather than wallet functionality. Though VeVe only launched in October 2020, it’s already leading the pack with 744,000 installs and $112.5 million in spending. The remaining apps have a collective 485,000 installs and $384,000 in spending.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

  • Now with a full-time CEO back in place, Jack Dorsey’s Square changed its name to Block to better reflect its growing ambitions in the crypto market. Block will house all the company’s products, including its seller business Square, Cash App, crypto developer platform TBD and Spiral (formerly, Square Crypto).
  • Cypto CEOs are scheduled to testify at a House committee hearing titled “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States” on December 8. CEOs from Coinbase, Circle, FTX, Bitfury, Paxos and Stellar will attend.
  • Meta’s top crypto exec, David Marcus, announced he’s leaving the company later this year. Marcus previously ran Messenger at Facebook before moving to lead the crypto unit Novi, maker of the Novia digital wallet app. Meta’s Diem cryptocurrency project has seen setbacks due to regulatory pushback which slowed its development and Marcus hinted he may want to do more in the crypto space, noting “I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems — my entrepreneurial DNA has been nudging me for too many mornings in a row to continue ignoring it.”

Social

  • ⭐️ Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey resigned from his CEO role at the social media company on Monday and will only remain on the board until his term expires in 2022. His departure will free him up to work full-time at the other company he’s been running, Square (now renamed Block), which seems to be more closely connected with his current interests in cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. Twitter’s CTO Parag Agrawal has become CEO and is already making changes. Two Twitter execs, head of engineering Michael Montano and the controversial VP of design Dantley Davis, are leaving the company, The Washington Post reported. Other teams will be reshuffled, including consumer, revenue and core tech divisions, led by Kayvon Beykpour, Bruce Falck and Nick Caldwell, respectively.
  • Meta (formerly Facebook) is now heading in a new direction with its NPE team, which has historically tested new social apps in hopes of stumbling across the next big hit. Now, the company will direct its focus more globally with offices in Nigeria and Asia and even seed-stage investments for small teams. It’s also developing projects in the U.S., which is different from its prior attempts, like helping the formerly incarcerated re-enter society, or helping LGBTQ families on their journey to becoming parents.

Image Credits: Meta

  • TikTok added new creator monetization features, including Tips and Video Gifts. The former will allow fans to send direct payments to creators, who get to keep 100% of the money. Video Gifts, meanwhile, function like LIVE Gifts, except can be awarded to creators outside a live broadcast. The features are rolling out alongside a new “Creator Next” portal, which organizes all TikTok’s monetization opportunities in one place.
  • TikTok launched a new Transparency Center, which will house the company’s historical Transparency Reports as well as its more interactive reports going forward, including the latest release: H1 2021 Content Removal Requests Reports.
  • LinkedIn added support for the Hindi language, which allows it to reach 500 million people in India. Hindi is the first regional language to be supported by the social network. The move is timely, following a week that saw another India-born exec move into the CEO ranks at a top U.S. tech company, when Twitter announced @Jack would be replaced by CTO Parag Agrawal as the company’s new chief exec.
  • Reddit added new real-time features, including typing and commenting indicators. It’s also adding voting and comment count animations and reading indicators, with the goal of making its service across desktop, iOS and Android feel more engaging and dynamic.

Messaging

  • Messenger partnered with four creators to expand its new lineup of Group Effects (AR effects that can be applied to everyone on the call at once). The new effects hail from King Bach, Emma Chamberlain, Bella Poarch and Zach King. It’s also working with Netflix on new Stranger Things soundmojis and added a new Taylor Swift soundmoji in honor of the release of “Red.”

Dating

Image Credits: App Annie screenshot

  • Bumble surpassed the $1 billion mark in consumer spending, according to data from App Annie. The dating and networking app is one of only 15 other non-gaming apps, and the only dating app outside of Tinder, to have hit this milestone. In addition to Bumble and Tinder, other billion-dollar club members include YouTube, Netflix, Tencent Video, TikTok, iQIYI, Pandora Music, LINE, Disney+, HBO Max, BIGO LIVE, Google One, LINE Manga, piccoma and Youku. The WSJ also remarked this week that Bumble, with a fully diluted valuation of around $6.6 billion, is starting to look undervalued. 
  • Match settled its lawsuit with Tinder co-founders and execs for $441 million. The suit, filed in 2018, alleged that IAC and its then-subsidiary Match Group manipulated financial data in order to create a false, “lowball valuation” of the dating app when Tinder was merged into IAC in 2017. The employees also said they had been unlawfully stripped of their Tinder stock options. The suit sought “billions of dollars” in damages at the time of its filing. While they didn’t get quite that number, after the court dismissed some of their claims for damages, $441 million is no small number. Match said it’s paying the settlement in cash. It had around $510 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the third quarter. 

Streaming & Entertainment

Image Credits: Spotify

  • Spotify’s anticipated year-end review, Wrapped 2021, has arrived. This year, the company introduced a number of new features, including artist and podcaster video messages, a version of Blend designed for Wrapped (which lets you compare your Wrapped with a friend), an in-app game based on “Two Truths and a Lie,” your “Audio Aura” (perfect for sharing when you don’t want to reveal your artists and songs) and more. The feature has become a popular way for Spotify to leverage its huge data collection in a way that’s not only engaging, but also makes Apple Music listeners green with envy.
  • Twitch’s iOS app added support for Apple’s SharePlay, allowing users and up to 31 of their friends to watch Twitch streams together while on a FaceTime call. To use the feature, everyone on the call has to log into their Twitch app and can then watch in either portrait or landscape mode along with friends.
  • YouTube on Android is testing a Material Design 3-inspired look, which includes pill-shaped bubbles surrounding the thin line-art icons, including a combined tab for likes and dislikes. The test design greatly shrinks the height of the bar under the video, however. The app has yet to get its Material You makeover, so this test is an indication that may soon on its way.
  • African streaming service WAW MUZIK partnered with B2B music streaming company Tuned Global on the relaunch of its music streaming app for French-speaking African territories.

Gaming

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

  • MrBeast’s parody video of Netflix’s “Squid Game” helped drive installs of Supercell’s Brawl Stars, reported Sensor Tower. The event had been sponsored by Supercell, which benefitted from the viral success of the video which had topped 100 million views. In the six days followed the YouTube video’s release, Brawl Stars’ downloads grew 41% week-over-week to 1.4 million. The majority (263,000) were from U.S. users. Player spending also grew 54% week-over-week worldwide to reach $8.2 million. The surge may not be all MrBeast-related, however. The Brawl Stars World Finals had just taken place November 26-28, which may have also boosted installs.
  • PUBG Mobile surpassed $7 billion in lifetime revenue after generating an average of $8.1 million per day in 2021 across the App Store and Google Play, Sensor Tower reported. Combined with the Chinese localization (Game for Peace), the title brought in $2.6 billion in 2021 so far and is the No. 2 Top Grossing game worldwide, behind Honor of Kings.

Travel & Transportation

  • Uber will begin testing an audio recording safety feature in the U.S. The company says it will begin piloting the program, which will allow drivers to send trip recordings to Uber in the case of a safety incident, in three U.S. markets:  Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
  • Uber in India added ride-booking via WhatsApp, a first for both companies, Uber and Meta. The partnership lets users access Uber by sending a message to a chatbot, and follows WhatsApp’s rollout of in-app grocery shopping in partnership with JioMart.
  • As part of the Android winter update, Android Auto added support for digital car key for compatible BMW vehicles on Pixel 6 devices and Samsung Galaxy 21. It also now auto-launches when your phone is connected to your car, and is adding an always-on play button to its Home screen, as well as a new search icon. (The latter is coming in the “months” ahead.) Also planned is support for Smart Reply for responding to texts within Android Auto.
  • Spotify has decided to retire “Car View,” its easy-to-use interface that appears when Spotify is used while driving. The company didn’t offer an immediate replacement, which angered some users who worried that using Spotify in the car now won’t be as safe. Others, however, hated the feature and are glad to see it go.

Government & Policy

  • Some Chinese state-run companies have restricted the use of Tencent’s domestic messaging app, Weixin, citing security concerns. At least nine companies were told to stop the practice of using the app for work chats, including China Mobile, China Construction Bank Corp., China National Petroleum Corp. and others.
  • Apple and Google were fined €10 million apiece by Italy’s competition and market authority (AGCM), which said the companies didn’t provide their users with clear enough information on commercial uses of their data. Both were accused of omitting information during the account creation phase. For Apple, that includes when users first set up their Apple ID to access its digital storefronts, like the App Store.
  • U.K.’s antitrust watchdog has ordered Facebook (now called Meta) to sell Giphy, the online and mobile GIF platform it acquired for $400 million in May 2020.

Security & Privacy

  • Android devices will soon automatically turn off runtime permissions — which allow apps to access data or take actions on your behalf — for downloaded apps you haven’t used in a while. The feature was also a part of Android’s winter update and will roll out this month on Android 6.0 and higher.
  • Researchers discovered a batch of Android apps with a combined 300,000 installs that were revealed to be banking trojans that stole user passwords and two-factor authentication codes, logged user keystrokes and took screenshots. The apps had posed as QR scanners, PDF scanners and cryptocurrency wallets that had been discovered on Google Play for months.
  • Twitter expanded its safety policy by banning the posting of images and videos of private individuals without their consent. This doesn’t mean users can’t post images, necessarily, but if the private individual asks for the image to be taken down, Twitter will do so. The Columbia Journalism Review cautioned that the new policy’s wording could lead to difficulties in balancing what’s in the public interest (which is permitted) with individual privacy. Already things are not going well. Twitter Safety has locked the account of an extremism researcher who had posted videos of right-wing extremists who were discussing plans for assaulting a reporter in public, where legally, there’s no expectation of privacy.

Image Credits: Lowkey

🤝 Pokémon GO maker Niantic acquired social gaming platform Lowkey, which allows gamers a way to capture and share their favorite gaming moments. The company said it will bring on Lowkey’s team to help it build out the future of Niantic’s social experiences.

🤝 Digital creation platform Picsart announced the acquisition of R&D company DeepDraft in a seven-figure cash and stock deal. The company brings to Picsart deep expertise in AI and machine learning, which Picsart will leverage as it pushes further into the video space.

🤝 Social app IRL made its first acquisition with a deal for the “digital nutrition” company AeBeZe Labs. The company had been developing a range of products with an understanding of how digital content can impact people’s moods. IRL aims to use its technology to improve its event and community recommendations in a healthier way compared with how existing social rivals manage their own algorithms. Deal terms weren’t offered.

💰 Glorify, a Christian-focused subscription app offering meditation, bible passages and Christian music, raised $40 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from SoftBank Latin America Fund, K5 Global and others. Notable angel investors include Kris Jenner, Corey Gamble, Michael Ovitz, Jason Derulo and Michael Bublé.

📉 Southeast Asian super app Grab started trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol GRAB after merging with the SPAC Altimeter Growth in the biggest Wall Steet debut by a Southeast Asian company, which saw the company raising $4.5 billion, valuing its business at nearly $40 billion. After an initial jump on Thursday, shares dropped more than 20% as investors reacted to its falling revenues and rising losses.

💰 Vinehealth, the makers of an app offering digital support for cancer patients and SaaS for R&D, raised $5.5 million in seed funding led by Talis Capital. The London-based startup has now launched the app, which has around 15,000 downloads, in the U.S.

💰 Francophone African super app Gozem raised $5 million in Series A funding from AAIC, Thunes (TransferTo), Momentum Ventures (SMRT), Innoport Ventures (Schulte Group), CMC Ventures (National Express) and Liil Ventures (Mobility ADO). The app offers transportation, e-commerce and financial services across 13 cities, including Gabon and Cameroon. Users have now completed over 5 million trips using its services.

💰 Financial literacy app for kids Goalsetter raised $15 million in Series A funding, led by Seae Ventures. The app allows kids to receive an allowance and financial gifts from family and friends, which comes to their Goalsetter debit card. But they can only unlock the money by taking financial literacy quizzes. The company now plans to sell a white-labled version of its service to banks.

💰 London-based money management app Plum raised $24 million in Series A funding from dmg Ventures and others, bringing its total raise to date to $43 million. The fintech company reported 189% YoY increase in revenue.

💰 Southeast Asian investment app Endowu raised $25.6 million in new funding following its $23 million Series A just seven months ago. The new round — which the company says is in between an A and a B — was led by Prosus Ventures, the venture firm majority-owned by Naspers, and EDBI. The app has $1.5 billion SGD in total assets under management.

💰 Algeria-based Yassir raised $30 million in Series A funding to build a super app for North Africa that includes ride-hailing, last-mile delivery, payments and more. The company had previously raised $13.25 million in seed funding.

Indie App Santa

Image Credits: Indie App Santa

The new Indie App Santa app is an advent calendar of sorts for those who love to download and try out iOS apps. The idea began last year as a Twitter account, which drove around 40,000 downloads to the apps the day they were featured. This year, the team at App Craft Studio decided to expand the project to the web, a native iOS app (with Home Widgets and Push notifications), in addition to social accounts on Twitter, Gumroad and Patreon.

According to creator and indie developer François Boulis, the team wasn’t sure if Apple’s App Store Review would approve their new app because it could be considered a “mini App Store” — which is against Apple’s rules. But the app passed through App Review on its first try, he says.

The new iOS app presents an advent calendar-like interface where each day you can tap to open a door and reveal a new deal on an indie developer’s app. The app will work from December 1 through December 24, and is a free download (with the option to pay to support its development).

So far, the app has revealed deals including a free version of MrClockface, a clock widget app; a free version of visual calendar Structured Pro; and puzzle game Blackbox. Most of the apps featured throughout the month will also be free, except for YarnBuddy (December 8), which will offer its $39.99 IAP for just $9.99 on the day of its featuring. Other coming app deals include those for Jinks!, Twidget, Vinyls, Crouton, Bluebird, PastePal, Wynk, Guessing Game, Inventory List, Skaffer, Sticker Doodle, Calory, Sync Flashlight, HabitMinder, un:safe, FitnessView, Times Up! Timer, Luxilux, Pile and Wordsmyth.

But India App Santa’s deals don’t last forever — you have to grab them as they arrive, or you’ll miss out.

Alms

Image Credits: Alms

A new startup called Alms is building a social network that focuses on users’ well-being through participation in creator-led challenges in areas like personal growth, sustainability and others focused on positive impacts. Instead of driving the collection of “likes,” as on other social apps, Alms aims to encourage real-world engagement through its challenges and the specific steps and actions that must be taken. The idea, explains Alms founder Alexander Nevedovsky, is to design an app that guides users to a happier and more meaningful life when they use it. At launch Alms has 30 creators on board, and more in the pipeline, and has attracted a couple of thousand users in its first few days on the App Store. (Read a full review here on TechCrunch.)


The Polestar Precept is a cypher for the EV automaker’s future

Polestar will spend the next three years executing a lofty electric vehicle launch schedule that will culminate with the Precept concept, a “Rosetta Stone” of sorts that provides a physical representation of the company’s future.

Polestar, the former Volvo company that spun out to become its own brand, refers to the concept as its “manifesto.” In other words, the Precept, which will go into production as the Polestar 5, tells consumers and eventual shareholders what the EV automaker intends to become.

The next several years will be spent moving further away from its Volvo roots and closer to its own brand, Greg Hembrough, head of Polestar USA, told TechCrunch in an interview at a company presentation in New York. During the presentation, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath, along with other members of the automaker’s leadership team, laid out a plan to expand to new markets, increase sales volume ten-fold and launch three new cars in the process. This ambitious plan is predicated on the company’s core values of design, sustainability and innovation.

The road so far

In 1996, Polestar was introduced to the world as a racing company that sold and developed performance software for Volvo Cars. Intertwined from the start, the union became official in 2011 when Polestar became a Performance partner, imbuing Volvo vehicles with enhanced sport characteristics. It was fully acquired by Volvo Car Group in 2015. It spun off shortly thereafter as its own brand, birthing its first car, the first-and-only hybrid Polestar 1 in 2017 and full EV Polestar 2 in 2019.

Between the two models, Polestar has sold roughly 29,000 vehicles, with the four-door EV Polestar 2 dominating the bulk of those sales. It’s currently the only Polestar in full swing, as the Polestar 1’s limited production recently concluded and the upcoming Polestar 3 SUV is expected to get underway sometime in 2022.

Future design

From the jump, the Precept is meant to convey as much of the Polestar tenets as can be visually conveyed, the most prominent of which is luxury and performance. It’s also key to Polestar’s brand identity, distinguishing itself from its sibling brand and becoming something unique.

“I believe that if people take a look at the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2, they continue to see a little bit of the DNA from one of our sibling companies,” Hembrough told TechCrunch. “The Precept’s intent was to not only give you an indication of our future design language is going to be, but also a clear indicator of elements you’ll see from a design perspective and sustainability perspective. These things are far greater now than just a wish list, these are things that will actually be brought into production.”

With this in mind, the business end of the Precept starts to tell a story. The Volvo family resemblance begins to fade, in favor of a more distinct, signature look. For instance, the distinct “Thor’s Hammer” headlights from the sibling brand are now “dual blades,” and appear to split the original design in half physically, if not also symbolically.

Polestar precept electric vehicle headlight

Image Credits: Alex Kalogianni

The “shark nose” facia has further intricacies, such as the absence of a vestigial grille for engine cooling, replaced by the “SmartZone” sensor suite. This houses a collection of radar emitters and cameras intended for enhanced advanced driver assistance system features, effectively switching to a “seeing” face rather than a “breathing” one.

There’s also a front aero foil, a wing incorporated into the front that improves airflow. “Of course, it looks awesome as well,” Ingenlath added enthusiastically at the event.

polestar precept back end

Image Credits: Alex Kalogianni

Innovation

When it comes to tech, Polestar has a full plate. There’s the fun stuff like its ambitions for its vehicles to have a certain level of automated highway piloting, but it’s moot if the cars fail to outperform the competition.

Underneath the surface of the Precept is an aluminum architecture indicative of the sporty underpinnings the Polestar 5 will have. The grand tourer will have an electrical system based off of the one that will be incorporated into the Polestar 3 and will have Nvidia-powered computing integrated. Its motor will be the “P10,” a 450 kilowatt unit in development that the company is targeting to be one of the most powerful ones out there, producing roughly 603 horsepower. This is married to a 800 volt battery pack that can switch to 400 to match the charging infrastructure, and will also support bi-directional charging.

polestar precept infotainment

Image Credits: Alex Kalogianni

With so much to focus on, Hembrough says concentrating on the user experience keeps Polestar on the right course. “It’s one of the things we began building very early with the Polestar 2, being the first company with an Android Automotive operating system that includes embedded Google services. Over-the-air software updates are rolled out to customer vehicles monthly, and there’s a surprise and delight with everything from having a web browser to games to a video player.

“We begin to take it very quickly to the next level with the Polestar 3 and as indicated in the Precept, things like ocular tracking is a convenience but also a safety opportunity as well. UX will continue to be part of that innovation, but we will never stray away from safety,” he added.

Sustainability

A great deal of emphasis was placed on the issue of sustainability, with a focus on reducing carbon impact, if not neutralizing it from production entirely.

Polestar has declared its intention to produce a fully carbon neutral vehicle by 2030. It’s not a self pat on the back, either, it’s a conversation customers are actively engaged in, too.

“If you look back, five or ten years ago, I think that’s one of the last things consumers would be talking about, but the world has changed so dramatically, those are all things consumers are very conscious about and asking about,” Hembrough said.

polestar precept electric vehicle interior-

Image Credits: Alex Kalogianni

The declaration of its “Polestar 0” project has galvanized a sense of urgency in the company, and the methods planned vary in scope. To start, there are new and innovative materials at play in the interior of the Precept, such as carbon-fiber-like bio-composite components derived from flax. The seats are a weave of recycled PES plastics. It’s a fabric that’s already in use in the fashion and footwear world, and one of the ways Polestar looks to differentiate itself with the old ways of automaking. “Those things aren’t just taglines, they’re at our core,” Hembrough said.

Outside of innovative materials, Polestar will employ carbon capture tech to achieve its goals, as well as increasing transparency within its supply chain level and insisting on improved supplier practices.

Beyond 2025

Even with these bold endeavors laid out, it just scratches the surface of Polestar’s intentions.

The automaker is shooting to produce a fully carbon neutral car by 2030, but what happens after that? Plotting a course that far into the future is truly sailing into the unknown, and even Polestar admits that time will tell if these efforts will be enough to make a difference. It does have one other goal — to become a fully climate neutral company by 2040 — that will dictate many, if not all, of its choices over the next 18 years.

Fear, loathing and corporate gifting

Welcome to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s inspired by the daily TechCrunch+ column where it gets its name. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here

Three themes this weekend, my dear friends. The first is fear, namely market concern. The second is loathing, or my gut reaction to a particular bit of corporate news. And, finally, corporate gifting, a dive into a fascinating startup war. Let’s go!

Fear

DocuSign took a gut punch this week, with the e-signature company’s stock price dropping by more than 40% on Friday as I write to you. That’s among the worst post-earnings share-price movements I have ever seen, aside from cases of fraud or other corporate shenanigans.

What happened? DocuSign beat revenue expectations in its most recent quarter (Q3 fiscal 2022). But the company’s billings — a proxy for future revenue — came in sharply under expectations. And the company’s CEO, Dan Springer, said this in its investor letter:

After six quarters of accelerated growth, we saw customers return to more normalized buying patterns, resulting in 28% year-over-year billings growth.

Springer thinks the market is overreacting and intends to buy DocuSign shares next week. Are the markets making too much of what appears to be a return to more regular growth at DocuSign?

Maybe not? I’ve been talking to folks about this since it happened — including my dear friend Ron Miller, who keeps me sane at work — trying to work out if we’re seeing Wall Street impatience or something else. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Per Yahoo Finance data, DocuSign is worth around $27 billion after its huge declines. Or about 12.4x its current run rate. For an already-public tech company showing strong hints at future revenue deceleration, who among us will stand up and say that that is too low?

A lot of folks, but that’s because the general climate for SaaS multiples has been so hot for so long. Not too long ago, DocuSign at 12.4x its present-day run rate after posting billings growth of 28% would have been fine, if not good. So, a return to prior norms could be in the air?

Fear. That’s what I expect to taste if we are seeing multiple compressions among software companies. So very many private-market bets have been placed on the expectation that public valuations for comps would stay high. But after a few awful days for tech stocks more generally this week, the climate in tech could finally be shifting away from a 100% risk weighting toward something more balanced.

Loathing

Better.com pulled three-quarters of a billion dollars from its SPAC debut forward, giving it access to ample funding for its operations. Then it fired a chunk of its staff. The CEO said 15% during a call with the laid-off staffers. Better insists that the number is actually 9%. The discrepancy is wild, given that the CEO was reading from notes and claimed that he had made the call to execute the layoffs. If he made the decision, how did he get the number wrong?

Regardless, here’s a master class in how not to fire a huge stack of your workers:



(We’ve preserved a copy of the video, of course, in case that version gets yanked.)

Don’t forget: You are not family at your place of employment. You are an asset that it wants to leverage and derive profit from!

Corporate gifting

Turn the clock back to early 2020. In February of that year, right before the turn of the pandemic, I covered Sendoso’s $40 million Series B. The company is in the corporate gifting space and has since gone on to raise a $100 million Series C.

Separately, an investor I know connected me to another player in Sendoso’s market, Postal.io, or just Postal. The two compete for market share in the send stuff to current and potential customers market, which is, it turns out, huge.

Regular Exchange readers will already be wondering if we didn’t touch on this recently. We did! Back in September, taking a look at Postal and its progress right before Disrupt.

But I’ve since extracted some growth metrics from Postal and Sendoso that I wanted to append to our continuing coverage of the space. Why do we care? Because akin to the OKR software space, or the instant grocery delivery market, there’s an interesting startup cluster to track.

Sendoso and Postal compete with Alyce and Reachdesk, for example, among others. That’s a lot of startup activity for the online-to-offline market channel. And the market is big enough — Sendoso told The Exchange that the “U.S. corporate gifting market is projected to reach $242 billion by the end of this year,” citing Coresight — for several players to grow at once.

Postal was the most free with metrics, sharing that it has seen 70% subscription revenue growth for the last five consecutive quarters. The startup has also seen GMV scale 3,765% from Q3 2020 to Q3 2021, as customers rose from 35 to 286. That’s why it managed to raise capital in September, we figure.

Sendoso was more coy with numbers regarding its recent performance. The startup grew 330% in 2019, recall, but regarding its recent results did not deign to share an updated figure. Instead, Sendoso said that it has 900 customers (north of 20,000 seats at those companies, for detail), and that its warehouses “in North America, Europe and Asia [have] handled upward of 3 million sends in over 165 countries.”

We didn’t get new numbers from Alyce or Reachdesk in time for publication, but if they do share results, we’ll bring them to you next week.

Also like the OKR startup market, there’s variation within the larger theme. In the case of corporate gifting, Postal is building a more digital offering, connecting goods companies to buyers, while Sendoso has a larger IRL footprint including its own physical item aggregation points. We do love to have business cases battle it out in real time.

Don’t forget, however, that intense competition doesn’t leave all parties unscathed. In the OKR market Koan failed to make it to its next fundraising milestone, and Microsoft scooped up one of the startup cohort. In the instant grocery space, 1520 just went kaput. Not that Sendoso or Postal are in danger of running out of cash, but if and when their market does find a point of consolidation will be interesting to see.

Alex

Sonoma State University to hand iPads to students in spring 2022


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Sonoma State University will be providing students joining the campus in the spring 2022 term iPads and accessories, as part of an expansion of the California State University’s CSUCCESS program.

First-year and transfer students joining SSU for the spring 2022 term will be eligible to receive a technology bundle including an iPad Air, Apple Pencil, and Apple Smart Keyboard. The bundle will be provided for use by the students throughout their entire undergraduate experience.

The package is being provided as an expansion of the CSUCCESS (California State Univeristy Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success) initiative, which aims to provide up to 35,000 students in the California State University system with the iPads.

Continuing students will not be eligible to participate, but can still borrow a notebook from the university library’s loan program.

Sonoma is part of a second-stage expansion of the program following its fall launch, as one of six campuses being added to the program. Along with students in Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Pomona, and San Bernardino, Sonoma’s inclusion brings the group up to 14 campuses out of 23 CSU institutions taking part in the program.

“I’m excited to expand this important program to even more incoming students this spring to help bridge the digital divide and establish a technological foundation for achievement from day one of their college journey,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “The program shows tremendous promise in advancing our goals of student success and educational equity.”

Educational institutions are slowly moving to using iPads as part of a wider adoption of technology used to teach students. In September, Apple said it would provide over 6,000 devices to Norfolk State University faculty and students during the fall, including the iPad Pro, AirPods Pro, and other hardware.

Meanwhile in July, the Berkeley County Board of Education voted to switch from Chromebooks to iPads for staff in its schools, as part of a pilot program to bring Apple products to the secondary level in the coming years.

Use radical objectivity to create and retain an inclusive workforce

Today, the age of corporate social justice is dawning. With the business case for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) now more vital than ever, we’re beginning to see organizations truly embrace social activism.

And while social justice was, rightly, the initial impetus, companies are finally waking up to the business case for diversity initiatives. Recent research by McKinsey shows that organizations with the most ethnically diverse teams are 36% more likely to financially outperform those with the least. This is because diversity increases revenue, boosts innovation, sparks creativity and leads to better decision-making.

But the truth is, the more diversity you have, the more challenging it can be.

The problem is that business leaders and diversity advocates have failed to consider an approach to diversity that goes beyond “add diversity and stir.” Diversity is not a numbers game wherein the solution is to merely increase the numbers of traditionally underrepresented groups in your workforce.

Now, as the world adjusts following the pandemic, it’s time to stop pretending that outdated diversity programs work. So let’s explore some of the measures leaders can take to root out bias and subjectivity from the outset, and instead adopt an approach of “radical objectivity” — combining data and human science to ensure that talent and merit win every time.

Inclusion is about more than hitting diversity recruiting optics

Diversity in the workplace starts with an inclusive culture. Unfortunately, many companies get this wrong. This is because diversity is quantitative — it’s the extent of heterogeneity within your workforce. On the other hand, inclusion describes the experiences of different individuals in the workforce and the degree to which they’re invited to participate.

Delivering on inclusion, therefore, is about more than hitting diversity recruiting optics. Done right, an inclusive culture should help to foster a sense of belonging and shared values. By arming themselves with data and insight instead of diversity quotas, forward-thinking organizations can create an environment in which individuals of all backgrounds can thrive.

So how do they get there?

It starts with language

Diversity initiatives often fail because they land too late in the employee journey to have a lasting impact. Change needs to be embedded in the talent acquisition process, which means evolving the way that you engage with your prospective employees — starting with language.

The words you choose to bring your business to life will make the difference: Words are influential ambassadors of your workplace’s culture. Technology and data analysis can help you here, providing robust insights on the messages you’re sending.

For example, are you using gender-coded or inclusive-coded language to attract inclusion-minded people? Are you taking the time to update your communications regularly to make sure they’re understanding of different cultural contexts — not just gender and ethnic but organizational and generational, too?

And it’s not just the language that you use in your marketing that matters. Have you considered the words used by your hiring managers and recruiters? At Inbeta, we use technology that enables organizations to move beyond the basics when it comes to inclusion.

For example, we bury specific questions in our recruitment interviews, the answers to which can be linguistically analyzed to understand the genuine values and behaviors of candidates, recruiters and hiring managers. This means you no longer need to rely on simplistic “bias checker” software, which tends to be based on outdated research with few controls on data integrity.

Remember, the best candidates have options. So what will you say that makes them want to work for you?

Moving past preconceptions

It’s also essential to bear in mind that, when it comes to language, it works both ways. When deciding whether to hire someone, we need to move past conceptions of how the ideal candidate should talk. That, too, leads to homogeneity. Technology and training in tandem can help with that.

At Inbeta, we recently partnered with a prominent high-street retailer to recruit a board director and encountered in our search a prominent candidate from a working-class background. However, the initial assumption from their tone and the way they articulated was that they had got to their accomplished position through “grit” and “graft” and lacked the strategic capability required for the new role.

Our linguistic intelligence coupled with human expertise surfaced early on that this was not the case and allowed us to counteract the biases at play. We were able to advocate for the individual and design a bespoke coaching intervention that raised the profile within the process, showcasing objective potential and ensuring they were given an equitable chance. The individual is now in the final stage, despite the disadvantage their socioeconomic background would have otherwise caused them.

Looking where others wouldn’t (or couldn’t)

Traditional approaches are too static to uncover all the potential that’s out there.

A standard executive search process will typically entail significant manual desk research reviewing historical databases that are only as up-to-date as the day each CV was written. Failing that, you’re at the mercy of the headhunter’s black book of acquaintances — or perhaps a combination of the two. Either way, the process is far from efficient, let alone equitable.

We use a suite of technologies that allows us to identify “hidden” talent without relying on either approach. We’re currently working with a leading fashion brand to hire a customer and digital director, for example, and the use of our tools has meant that we’ve been able to rapidly deliver a long list of 74 high-priority real-time candidates within 48 hours.

This is a potential talent pool that would take more traditional search processes weeks to develop — and that’s before validation. Not only are we able to map candidates quickly and efficiently, by leveraging technology, we can independently execute due diligence to quantify these leads: Are they exhibiting typical job-seeking behaviors? What are their cultural drivers? Do they have the desired leadership qualities?

This isn’t just about speed and efficiency — although, of course, that’s a bonus — this is, crucially, about surfacing candidates that would usually be overlooked in the search process.

Moving beyond cultural fit

In tackling unconscious bias, it’s also worth considering what a truly inclusive approach to talent acquisition looks like. Companies have long hired for “cultural fit,” but there’s a tremendous amount of bias in these mindsets.

By aiming to hire people whose attributes mesh with the company’s goals and values, your resulting workplace is one in which everyone looks, thinks and acts alike. Instead, organizations must move away from a practice that aims to mold people to fit their norms.

There’s a recent story that always springs to mind. In the run-up to the pandemic, I was working with a significant multinational retail group to source a group chief digital officer as part of a very high-profile board restructure.

The individual we surfaced had no fashion experience and limited retail experience. Furthermore, their mindset couldn’t have been further from that of the existing C-suite, meaning they would have been entirely overlooked by the majority of headhunters. But, on the other hand, this individual had outstanding digital expertise, a career spanning innovation across several FTSE100 companies. And on top of all this, they’d been operating as a digital nomad in remote central Africa.

Their technical proficiency, coupled with their incredibly diverse mindset, meant that they were the perfect person to revolutionize a very traditional organization. But they simply wouldn’t have been identified had we been seeking out somebody who was a so-called “cultural fit.” By getting past the cultural fit default, companies are far more likely to build teams with the diversity of mindset, experience, ethnicities and backgrounds that they claim to be seeking.

Rewiring the system

Ultimately, taking a holistic view of diversity means looking beyond numbers; a tick-the-box program doesn’t cut it.

Cultural change is challenging, perhaps even more so when the objective is creating an inclusive culture. But without a concerted effort to change organizational culture and foster inclusion, diversity initiatives are likely to fail.

The easiest way to address this is to re-examine your hiring process with a radically objective approach. Companies today need to leverage technology and data to mitigate implicit bias wherever they can and match that with human touch and cultural intelligence. The route to diversity success is to perpetually listen, adapt and develop.

Is tech hurting American soft power?

The TechCrunch Global Affairs Project examines the increasingly intertwined relationship between the tech sector and global politics.

About 30 years ago, the political scientist Joseph Nye overturned convention when he suggested that states exert not just “hard” power — i.e., military might — but “soft” power as well. Soft power, Nye wrote is “when one country gets other countries to want what it wants … in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants.”

In other words, soft power is rule by attraction, not by force. Countries with greater cultural, economic, scientific and moral influence, the theory goes, “punch above their weight,” converting that influence into material gains. It encompasses everything that isn’t guns, soldiers or materiel. Queen Elizabeth II is a soft power all-star, as is Rihanna. But so too are Hollywood, sushi, Louis Vuitton and Copacabana Beach.

The likes of Broadway, Michael Jordan, Harvard and Starbucks have long made America, a superpower by conventional means, a soft power one as well. But much of American soft power in recent years can be attributed to our technological ingenuity. After all, the biggest names in technology — Amazon, Facebook, Google — are American. The world’s rich almost universally use iPhones; the world’s top firms run on Microsoft Windows. And world leaders from Narendra Modi to the Pope rely on Twitter and Instagram to reach their followers.
Read more from the TechCrunch Global Affairs Project

The world’s OS, in other words, is American. And that means the majority of the world lives on technology that is based, for the most part, on American values like free speech, privacy, respect for diversity and decentralization.

Meanwhile Silicon Valley is perhaps the biggest overseas draw America has. As many as 40% of software workers are immigrants. Google, Tesla and Stripe all have immigrant founders. When I attended Stanford a decade ago, I witnessed firsthand the endless march of visiting delegations. Germans, Australians — even Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — all came with some version of the same question: How do we replicate Silicon Valley back home?

American politicians have been right to point to our tech sector as one of America’s best exports. But what happens when it stops being a force for good? Is it possible for soft power to actually go in reverse and detract from a nation’s influence?

After all, the harmful externalities of technology are amply documented — fake news in India, a gencoide ginned up in Myanmar, ISIS propaganda in Britain. Europe has gone after tech giants like Apple and Google for dodging taxes and violating privacy while Amazon has come under fire in Britain for worker abuses. And tech’s unhealthy impact on children and teens is rightfully coming under increased scrutiny.

As tech is tied more and more to hard power — and as American supremacy relies more and more on Big Tech firms — Washington is left with a conundrum: If, as Nye, posited in 2012, “credibility is the scarcest resource,” is America able to separate the increasingly baleful actions (and reputations) of its tech firms from Brand USA?

This whole situation reminds me of the COP26 climate change negotiations that wrapped up last month in Glasgow. Aren’t rich countries, many argue, responsible for the actions of their energy companies? It’s a controversial question, but one thing is certain: Exxon Mobil no longer burnishes America’s image. In fact, as the economic costs of climate change are increasingly priced in, it is more likely a liability than an asset.

Unlike its oil giants, America’s tech industry is not precipitating a civilizational crisis. We generally find their products useful. They have generated massive economic activity. And they do have positive externalities. To take one not-so-hypothetical example, Apple iPhones are now used to record human rights abuses, which are posted on Alphabet’s YouTube and shared on Meta’s Facebook and WhatsApp.

But when American tech firms spread hate or abet violence in other countries, they reflect poorly on the U.S. And if the U.S. is to bask in their glow, it should also take responsibility for their shortcomings, if for no other reason than its own reputation.

Of course there is no shortage of Washington politicians seeking to bring Big Tech to heel. The Biden administration is working hard to coordinate with allies on a great number of regulatory actions. Congress and agencies like the FCC and FTC are poised to take meaningful antitrust action.

These moves, as well as broader reforms like the recent global corporate tax deal at the G20, go some way toward ameliorating corporate abuses. But while regulatory efforts rightly focus on protecting American consumers, they should also take some responsibility for the very real lives harmed abroad.

What would that look like? For one, antitrust investigations might examine tech firms’ monopolies in foreign markets. U.S. standards for free speech may not be applicable in blanket fashion, but regulators might nudge American tech firms to apply the same care in serving poor foreign markets as they do at home, starting with more content moderation in foreign languages. They should also consider adopting more locally nuanced rules in foreign markets (while avoiding doing the bidding of whomever is in charge).

Governments should also work more with the tech giants to share intelligence about how their products are used — both organically to ill effect and maliciously by foreign actors. American diplomats on the ground might regularly brief tech executives about the on-the-ground impact of their products and nudge them toward policies that are less harmful. They might require experimentation with more forms of external oversight, as Facebook has done with its Oversight Board. At a minimum, they might proactively work together to ensure American technologies don’t fuel nascent or ongoing crises, as appears to be the case in Ethiopia right now. But the U.S. shouldn’t shy away from more aggressively using its Entity List to sanction companies involved in human rights abuses.

There is much firms can do on their own proactively as well. LinkedIn, to its credit, stopped doing business in China when faced with increasing censorship on its platform. When pushed, the platform decided that its (liberal) values were too important to sacrifice. Fourteen years after handing over dissidents’ user data to Chinese authorities, Yahoo stopped doing business in China as well. And tech workers should speak up too. Many have objected when their firms work with the Pentagon or other national security agencies; they ought to be as — if not more — critical of work with authoritarian governments.

Tech firms have more power than they think. When they let undemocratic governments get away with outrageous requests like censoring content, spying on dissidents and denying technology to democracy activists, they risk diminishing the magic that makes American tech firms so attractive in the first place. We are all poorer for the self-censorship already practiced by American firms (when was the last time a movie depicted China in a negative light?). Exporting self-censored technology would be exponentially worse.

Tech executives have grown fond in recent years of defending their companies (and their monopolies) on patriotic grounds. But when tech errs, it is far more harmful than producing an offensive movie. Policymakers must make clear that if American tech firms expect goodwill from Washington, they should make good on their words and consider how their actions directly harm American interests and values. They must recognize that tech’s reputation is America’s as well.
Read more from the TechCrunch Global Affairs Project

Best deals Dec. 4: $979 11-inch iPad Pro, $148 Respawn gaming chair, Lego Star Wars Droid, more!


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Along with $120 off an 11-inch iPad Pro, Saturday’s best deals include $130 off Sennheiser Momentum true Wireless 2 earbuds, a 4K done for $240, and an Echo Show 5 for $45.

The internet has a plethora of deals each day, but many deals aren’t worth pursuing. In an effort to help you sift through the chaos, we’ve hand-curated some of the best deals we could find on Apple products, tech accessories, and other items for the AppleInsider audience.

If an item is out of stock, it may still be able to be ordered for delivery at a later date. These deals won’t last long, so act fast for anything that might be of interest to you.

New deals are added every day.

Apple 2021 11-inch iPad Pro (Wi-Fi 512GB), was $1,099, now $979 on Amazon.

New sales

Aovo Drone with 4K camera was $339.96, now $239.96 on Amazon with the on-page coupon.

Lego Star Wars Imperioal Probe Droid (683 pieces) was $59.99, now $47.99 on Amazon.

Logitech G G29 Gaming Racing Wheel with Responsive Pedals for Playstation and PC was $399.99, now $249.99 on Amazon.

PreSonus AudioBox 96 Studio USB 2.0 recording bundle with headphones, microphone, Studio One Artist and Ableton Live Lite, was $169.95, now $149.95 on Amazon.

MacBook Pro discounts

13-inch MacBook Pro (2020) with Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage for $1,149 on Woot!

Brydge Holiday Sale

Brydge 10.2 Max+ was $129.99, now $99.99.

Brydge Max+ for iPad Pro is $50 off, now $159.99 to $199.99 depending on the model chosen.

Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock was $169.99, now $129.99.

Older sales, still going

Apple’s hardware and accessories

AirPods (third-generation) was $179.99, now $169.99, but customers can save even more using a save $20 at checkout promotion. Final price is $149.99 at Amazon.

12.9-inch Apple Smart Keyboard Folio was $199, now $98 on Amazon.

Find discounts on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max

Find discounts on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max

2018 Mac mini with Intel Core-i3, 256GB storage, and 16GB memory was $999, now $629 from OWC.

MacBook Pro and MacBook Air deals

Get discounted MacBooks

Get discounted MacBooks

Get an additional 5% off on below items with code EM1CW.

Apple 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD storage was $1,199.99, now $525.99 on Dailysteals.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro Intel Core i5 2.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage was $1,999.99, now $436.99 on Dailysteals.

Local and network storage

Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD

Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD

QNAP TS-653D-4G-US 6-bay NAS enclosure, was $699.99, now $549.99 on Newegg with code BCMAY22329

Samsung T5 2TB Portable USB 3.1 SSD with speeds of up to 540MB/s, was $279.99, now $199.99 on Amazon.

Samsung T7 Touch 1TB Portable USB 3.2 SSD with speeds of up to 1,050MB/s, was $189.99, now $149.99 on Amazon.

WD 2TB My Passport SSD External Portable Solid State Drive, was $379.99, now $229.99 on Amazon.

Monitors and computer accessories

CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock Was $349.95, now $299 on Amazon. AppleInsider staff highly recommend this dock.

Logitech G502 Lightspeed wireless gaming mouse was $149.99, now $99.99 on Amazon.

Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad was $39.99, now $24.99 at Amazon

Sonnet AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT Graphics Card Bundle for Mac Pro was $1,839.98, now $1,719.99 on SonnetTech until December 3.

Networking

Eero Pro tri-band WiFi 6 system 3-pack

Eero Pro tri-band WiFi 6 system 3-pack

Netgear Nighthawk AX1500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System, was $249, now $169 on Walmart.

TP-Link AX6600 Deco Tri-Band Wi_Fi 6 Mesh System, was $449.99, now $359.99 on Amazon.

Home and Smart Home

Aqara Camera and Hub for HomeKit was $65, now $55.24 on Amazon with on-page coupon.

Aqara Smart Hub and Alarm System Bridge was $59.99, now $50.99 on Amazon with on-page coupon.

Ecobee smart HomeKit thermostat with voice control was $249, now $199 at Amazon.

Ring Video Doorbell wired bundle with Echo Dot was $99.98, now $69.99 at Amazon.

Photo and Video

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Full Frame Camera Body, was $1,799, now $1,599 on Amazon.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless Full Frame Camera with RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens, was $2,099, now $1,899 on Amazon.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk IV with M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Lens, was $799.99, now $699 on Amazon.

Maker Tools and Items

Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer was $204.99, now $199.99 on Amazon using the on-page coupon.

Anycubic Photon Mono X Resin 3D Printer was $699.99 now $599.99 on Amazon for Prime subscribers.

Podcasting Gear

TVs, Projectors, Set-top Boxes

Samsung 65-inch 4K TV

Samsung 65-inch 4K TV

Hisense ULED Premium 55-inch Quantum Dot QLED 4K Smart TV was $849.99, now $646.99 on Amazon.

Samsung 60-inch 4K Crystal LED Smart TV with HDR, was $598, now $508 on Walmart.

Samsung UR59C Series 32-inch Ultra HD Curved LCD Monitor, was $449.99, now $349.99 on Newegg.

TCL Alto 6 2.0 Channel Home Theater Sound Bar was $79.99, now $69 at Amazon.

Viewsonic M1 Mini+ Ultra Portable LED Projector with USB-C input was $199.99, now $169.99 on Amazon.

WEWATCH portable 5G Wi-Fi projector now $90 at Amazon, using both on-page coupon and code GJOD62O7.

Home, Car, and Audio

Anova AN500-US00 Sous Vide Precision Cooker was $199, now $139 on Amazon.

BestOffice PC Gaming Chair with Lumbar Support was $79.88, now $62.88 on Amazon. This is AppleInsider editor Mike’s chair of choice.

Bose QuietComfort 45 Bluetooth Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones, was $329.99, now $279.99 on Amazon.

Flexispot EC1 55×28-inch Electric Stand Up Desk, was $329.99, now $299.99 on Amazon using the on-page coupon.

JBL Live 500BT Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones, was $149.95, now $39.95 on eBay.

Meross Smart Pro LED Strip Lights with HomeKit support, was $40.99, now $27.99 on Amazon using the on-page coupon.

Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual 1080p Dash Cam was $199.99, now $169.99 on Amazon with the on-page coupon.

Refurbished Sonos speakers

Software, video games, toys, tablets, wearables

Avalon Hill Axis & Allies 1942 Second Edition boardgame, was $68.99, now $55.84 on Amazon.

Avalon Hill Betrayal at House on the Hill boardgame (Green), was $49.99, now $27.59 on Amazon.

PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller for the Nintendo Switch, was $99.99, now $69.99 on Amazon.