ByteDance is reportedly in talks with India's Reliance about a TikTok investment - CNBC
Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries is in talks with ByteDance about an investment in TikTok's India business, according to a report.
Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries could be about to invest in Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, according to a report from TechCrunch Thursday, which cited two sources familiar with the matter. Reliance Industries is currently in "early discussions" with TikTok parent company ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing, about a potential deal for TikTok's business in India, according to the report. Discussions between ByteDance and Reliance Industries reportedly began in July but a deal is yet to be reached. TikTok's business in India has a valuation of $3 billion, according to one of the sources cited by TechCrunch. It's unclear if Reliance would like to acquire the whole of TikTok's business in India or just part of it. TikTok has acquired more users in India than in any other country but the app was banned by the Indian government along with 58 other Chinese apps on June 29 as geopolitical tensions between the two nations soared. It's possible that the Indian government would reinstate TikTok if it was owned by an Indian company, just like President Donald Trump has said TikTok could continue operating in the U.S. provided it is owned by a U.S. company, such as Microsoft. Founded in 1973 and owned by Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, Reliance Industries has traditionally been in the oil and petrochemicals business. Over the last few years, however, it has been putting more of a focus on tech. Reliance's Jio Platforms business has raised around $20 billion over the last few months from investors including Google and Facebook, which is directly competing with TikTok with Instagram Reels. ByteDance, TikTok and Reliance Industries did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. Read the full report from TechCrunch here.
The coronavirus stimulus talks stall out, plus Samsung, Google, and Apple's war for smartphone buyers: CNBC After Hours - CNBC
CNBC.com's MacKenzie Sigalos brings you the day's top business news headlines. On today's show, CNBC.com's Todd Haselton explains what the upcoming seasons of smartphone releases might look like in an economy with 10.2% unemployment.
CNBC.com's MacKenzie Sigalos brings you the day's top business news headlines. On today's show, CNBC.com's Todd Haselton explains what the upcoming seasons of smartphone releases might look like in an economy with 10.2% unemployment. Plus, CNBC's Deirdre Bosa breaks down President Trump's executive order banning business transactions with Chinese app WeChat and the potentially massive ramifications for corporate America. Trump issues executive orders banning U.S. transactions with WeChat and TikTok in 45 days President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders banning U.S. transactions with Chinese tech firms Tencent and ByteDance. Tencent owns Chinese messaging app WeChat, and ByteDance is the Beijing-based parent company of the widely popular short video-sharing app TikTok. The ban will take effect in 45 days and may attract retaliation from Beijing. While the scope of the ban remains unclear, the executive orders said that after 45 days, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross "shall identify the transactions" that will be subjected to the prohibition. Google's new $350 phone packs a killer camera Google on Monday announced the Pixel 4a, a $350 Android phone that will be available on Aug. 30. It's an affordable phone, at least compared with the $1,000-plus smartphones out there, but competes directly with Apple's iPhone SE, which launched in April and starts at $399. Google's Android phones aren't nearly as popular as Apple or Samsung's Android phones in the U.S. But last year's Pixel 3a helped it pick up some momentum. "With the launch of Pixel 3a in May, overall Pixel unit sales in Q2 grew more than two times year over year," Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet, said in July 2019 during Alphabet's second-quarter 2019 earnings call, without saying how many were sold. Payrolls increase by nearly 1.8 million, topping expectations despite coronavirus resurgence Two months of record-setting payroll growth slowed in July but was still better than Wall Street estimates even as a rise in coronavirus cases put a damper on the struggling U.S. economy. Nonfarm payrolls increased 1.763 million for the month, the Labor Department reported Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2% from its previous 11.1%, also better than the estimates from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.
An Indian tech giant that's raised $20 billion from the likes of Google and Facebook is working on a mixed reality headset - CNBC
India's Jio has announced it is working on a mixed reality headset called Jio Glass after raising billions from companies like Google and Facebook.
A new entrant has emerged in the race to develop smart glasses that provide consumers with mixed and augmented reality experiences. India's Jio, part of the Reliance Industries conglomerate, announced a new mixed reality headset at its annual general meeting on Wednesday called Jio Glass. Kiran Thomas, president of Reliance Industries, said Jio Glass already works with over 25 applications. The black headset connects to the internet via a cable that must be plugged into the owner's smartphone, he said. It weighs 75 grams and has a camera in between the left and right lenses. It's unclear how much the device will cost or when it will go on sale. The executive demoed Jio Glass being used to hold a work meeting in a virtual office with two colleagues. One of them appeared as an avatar while the other appeared in 2D form. Thomas also showed how the technology could be used in an education setting. "With Jio Glass, the traditional way of learning geography will now be history," he said, showing how students and teachers could make virtual visits to the Taj Mahal in India, the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, and the Colosseum in Rome. Jio is entering a market that others have failed to crack. Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens and Snap Spectacles are arguably the three best known efforts, while Magic Leap has also been working on a device in secret for years. None of the offerings have gained mass adoption. Reliance Industries is a large, sprawling company owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia. Traditionally a petrochemical company, today it has many subsidiaries including a technology arm firm called Jio Platforms. Over the last few months, Ambani has been selling off large chunks of Jio Platforms in order to clear Reliance Industries' debt pile. Facebook invested $5.7 billion in April, while Google announced a $4.5 billion investment on Wednesday. In total, investors have bought over $20 billion worth of shares in Jio Platforms. "Reliance is now truly a zero net debt company well ahead of my goal of March 2021," Ambani said at the AGM on Wednesday. "We now have an extremely strong balance sheet that will support all our hypergrowth plans." He added: "I believe that the time has come for a truly global digital product and services company to emerge from India and be counted among the best in the world."
Amazon Echo Buds headphones might overheat while charging, so update the software, company warns - CNBC
"We recently determined that in very rare cases it is possible for Echo Buds to overheat while in the charging case. Out of an abundance of caution, we released an over-the-air software update that addresses this potential issue," an Amazon spokesperson told …
Amazon on Wednesday sent an email to people who purchased its Echo Buds headphones warning them to update their software. It said in "very rare cases" the headphones can overheat while charging. The Echo Buds were released in fall 2019 and compete with Apple AirPods. They offer quick access to Amazon Alexa, come with their own charging case and feature Bose noise reduction. The email to customers says a software update addresses the "potential safety risk" and "improves the long-term performance of Echo Buds' batteries." "We recently determined that in very rare cases it is possible for Echo Buds to overheat while in the charging case. Out of an abundance of caution, we released an over-the-air software update that addresses this potential issue," an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC. Amazon's site says the Echo Buds are out of stock until Aug. 15. The company didn't say if that delay may be related to a hardware update. Here's the full email Amazon sent customers and instructions on how to update if you own a pair of Echo Buds: We are writing to inform you about an important software update for your Echo Buds. The safety of our customers is our top priority. We recently determined that in very rare cases it is possible for Echo Buds to overheat while in the charging case. Out of an abundance of caution, we have released a software update that addresses this potential safety risk and improves the long-term performance of Echo Buds' batteries. Applying the Software Update You will automatically receive the update when your Echo Buds connect via Bluetooth to your phone and the Alexa app. To confirm the update: · Open the Echo Buds case (ensure both buds are in the case) · Confirm that your Echo Buds are Bluetooth connected to your phone · Open the Alexa app and select "Devices" in the bottom right · Choose "Echo & Alexa" then "Echo Buds" · Scroll to the "About" section at the bottom of the page · Confirm that your device is running software version 318119151 or higher If you have a different software version, follow these instructions to initiate the software update: · Open the lid of the case with the Echo Buds inside and confirm that they are connected to Bluetooth on your phone and the Alexa app · Check that your Echo Buds and case are at least 30% charged · Close the case lid with the Echo Buds inside, and keep within Bluetooth range of your phone for 30 minutes · Check that the software version is 318119151 or higher, following the instructions above If you purchased this item for someone else, please notify the recipient immediately and provide them with this information. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for taking the time to confirm you received the software update. If you have questions about how to apply the update, please contact us at https://www.amazon.com/contact-us. Sincerely, The Echo Buds team Amazon also said customers who did not register their devices need to follow these instructions: To register your device, please: · Download the latest version of the Alexa app on your phone · Open the lid of the Echo Buds case (ensure both buds are in the case) · Confirm that your Echo Buds are Bluetooth connected to your phone · Activate your Echo Buds in the Alexa app by selecting "Devices" in the bottom right, then "+" on the top right of the screen, followed by "Add Device" >"Amazon Echo" >"Echo Buds", then follow the prompts on the screen · Check that your Echo Buds and case are at least 30% charged · Close the case lid with the Echo Buds inside, and keep within Bluetooth range of your phone for 30 minutes To confirm the update: · Open the Echo Buds case (ensure both of your buds are in the case) · Confirm that your Echo Buds are Bluetooth connected to your phone · Open the Alexa app and select "Devices" in the bottom right · Choose "Echo & Alexa" then "Echo Buds" · Scroll to the "About" section at the bottom of the page · Confirm that your device is running software version 318119151 or higher Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.
Google is reportedly in 'advanced talks' to invest $4 billion in Jio Platforms, after Facebook's $5.7 billion bet on the Indian telco - CNBC
Google is in "advanced talks" to invest $4 billion in Indian telco Jio Platforms just a few months after Facebook announced a $5.7 billion investment, according to a media report.
Google is in "advanced talks" to invest $4 billion in Indian telecommunications firm Jio Platforms, according to a report from Bloomberg on Tuesday. The announcement could come in the next few weeks, sources familiar with the matter reportedly told Bloomberg. However, it could be delayed or canceled altogether, and the details are still being ironed out. Google and Reliance Industries did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. If the deal were to go ahead, then Google would become the latest U.S. tech giant to back Jio Platforms, which is owned by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries. Facebook announced a $5.7 billion investment in the company in April and Intel invested $250 million earlier this month. Last month, UAE sovereign wealth fund Mubadala revealed it was investing $1.2 billion in the company, while Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund put in $1.5 billion. Jio Platforms operates the Jio Infocomm telecom network, which has amassed over 388 million 4G subscribers since launching in 2016. Today it is India's top telco, and also has several apps and other services in e-commerce and broadband. Read more on Bloomberg's website here.
World Health Organization drops hydroxychloroquine from its coronavirus trial - CNBC
The World Health Organization announced it is dropping hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug backed by President Trump, from its global study looking at potential treatments for the coronavirus.
The World Health Organization announced Wednesday it is dropping hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug backed by President Donald Trump, from its global study looking at potential treatments for the coronavirus. The decision to end hydroxychloroquine testing in the Solidarity trial came after data from the trial and another study suggested it would not be beneficial, said Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, a WHO medical officer. The announcement is likely to further dampen hopes the drug is helpful against the coronavirus. The drug generated excitement earlier in the year after a handful of small studies suggested it could be beneficial. Trump promoted it as a potential treatment for the virus and said he used it as a preventive measure against the disease. However, several larger studies showed the drug was not helpful and caused heart issues in some patients. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found hydroxychloroquine was no better than a placebo in preventing coronavirus infections. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced it was ending its emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine after concluding the drugs were "unlikely to be effective" against Covid-19. "Additionally, in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of CQ and HCQ no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use," the FDA wrote in its notice Monday. Separately, WHO officials urged the public to be cautious about dexamethasone, the steroid being hailed by scientists as a breakthrough. On Tuesday, scientists at the University of Oxford said results from their "Recovery" trial showed the drug, which is widely used to reduce inflammation in other diseases, reduced death rates by around a third among the most severely ill Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital. There was no benefit among patients who did not require respiratory support. The results from the trial were "very significant," but it was only one study, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's emergencies program, said Wednesday. "We have to see the real data, the full data."
Snapchat is launching apps that let you buy movie tickets with friends, see class schedules - CNBC
Snap Minis are small apps from third-party software developers that can be opened within Snapchat.
Snap on Thursday announced a new product called Snap Minis small apps built by third-party software developers that can be opened within Snapchat. "Snap Minis are bite-sized utilities tailor-made for friends," said Will Wu, Snap's director of product. Snap Minis can be opened within the chat function of Snapchat and can be used by groups of users at the same time. There will be a handful of Snap Minis at launch. One from Atom Tickets will allow users to watch movie trailers together or see movie show times, and then pick seats as a group before they buy tickets individually. A Snap Mini built by Saturn Technologies will allow students to share and compare their class schedules on Snapchat. "You and your friend can find out what classes you have together," Wu said. "Or find your next open time block to hang out." Snap Minis represent the company's latest efforts to expand its work with third-party software developers. Snap already works with developers to build augmented reality lenses for Snapchat and to integrate the company's Stories feature with other apps. Minis are built on the same technology Snap uses for its Snap Games, Wu said. Snap Minis will launch for Snapchat on Android and iPhone sometime in July.
Why the first SpaceX astronaut launch marks a crucial leap for NASA's ambitions - CNBC
SpaceX launched astronauts to space for first time on Saturday, heralded by NASA leaders as beginning a new chapter in human spaceflight.
SpaceX launched astronauts to space for first time on Saturday, in a mission heralded by NASA leaders as the beginning of a new chapter in human spaceflight. "We have been reliant on Russia to ferry astronauts into space since 2011, and this moment puts us back on track with grander ambitions for human space flight ahead of us," Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu told CNBC after the launch. In short, the first crewed SpaceX Demo 2 launch means everything from the U.S. controlling its own future in space to unlocking the possibility of human life on Mars. The United States has done this before, but it has been some time. NASA put its first man in orbit 58 years ago, landed people on the moon 51 years ago, and began launching the space shuttle to orbit nearly 40 years ago. Those achievements are each certainly historic, but the U.S. has not returned humans to the moon since the Apollo program ended. And ballooning costs, as well as higher-than-anticipated risk, led to the end of the space shuttle program in 2011. Some of the significance of the SpaceX launch has been buried in the news cycle. NASA officials had hoped that the launch would be a unifying moment for the country. But the SpaceX Demo-2 mission has taken a backseat to the global coronavirus pandemic and widespread U.S. protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. NASA astronaut Bob Behnken noted those two situations in a CNBC interview on Tuesday, saying he hopes the view that astronauts have of Earth helps spread an inspiring message. "There are no boundaries or borders really observable from space. You see that it's a single planet with a shared atmosphere. It's our shared place in this universe," Behnken told CNBC. "I think that perspective, as we go through things like the pandemic or we see the challenges across our nation or across the world, we recognize that we all face them together." To better capture the importance of last weekend's launch, CNBC spoke to Wall Street analysts, private capital investors and industry experts. "A private company has just achieved a feat that heretofore has only been achieved by nation-states." Quilty Analytics founder Chris Quilty told CNBC. "The launch unlocks the possibility of a new era of sustained, private, commercial activity in space." Indeed, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is the first to be designed, built and launched to space by a private entity. That's an accomplishment only three nations the U.S., Russia and China have achieved previously. But this success is even bigger for SpaceX, as Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas explained in a note to clients on Monday. "The primary role of a private commercial space company in the Demo-2 mission is highly significant and defines this new era of space, in our view," Jonas said. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on the Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard. In essence, NASA took a new approach to developing a replacement for the space shuttle when it partnered with SpaceX and Boeing. Rather than the agency taking the lead on designing and building a spacecraft, with help from contractors, NASA through the Commercial Crew program awarded the two companies with development funds and then worked alongside the companies. Silicon Valley Bank managing director Ann Kim told CNBC that NASA partnering with SpaceX has led to an unprecedented low price tag for U.S. taxpayers. "Working with domestic partners will produce massive cost savings, increase both public and private funding, and accelerate growth of the US space economy," Kim said. This model also means that SpaceX retains ownership of the spacecraft it developed, as NASA is procuring services from Elon Musk's company buying seats for its astronauts. That allows SpaceX to use the Crew Dragon capsules for other missions, such as private passenger flights. This represents a new dynamic in the space industry, Space Capital managing partner Chad Anderson told CNBC. "Previously, NASA has been both sides of the equation -- they have been the supply and the demand," Anderson said. "You can't have a flourishing marketplace when you only have one actor and only a few companies helping them get there." The historical significance Once NASA retired the space shuttle nearly a decade ago, the country was left with "no mechanism for sending astronauts to space, other than to pay for a seat on a Russian rocket," ARK Invest analyst Sam Korus told CNBC. That handed Russia a monopoly on human spaceflight, which Korus noted led to the price NASA paid per astronaut increasing from about $40 million in 2011 to more than $90 million this year. "This is huge in reclaiming our ability to control our future in space," Korus said. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket about to launch the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is seen before the Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard. Analysts used a variety of historical analogies to contextualize why SpaceX's launch matters when the U.S. has done this before. Jefferies' Kahyaoglu looked to baseball, and the end of a storied championship drought, for comparison. "It is like when the Red Sox won the world series in 2004 after an 86 year drought. They went on to win several more over the next six years. This event puts NASA on track to expand its human space program," Kahyaoglu told CNBC. Korus and Quilty both gave analogies from the tech industry to compare to the Demo-2 launch. Korus noted that the precursor to the internet was a U.S. military project called ARPANET, which connected the first computers in 1969. Much like the Apollo and space shuttle programs, the ARPANET program was a historic success but was far too costly to run long-term and was decommissioned. But ARPANET paved the way for the commercialization of the internet, which Korus noted has today created trillions of dollars in value. "Numerous technologies from the semiconductor to the Internet were created [or] established through government investment but did not become economically relevant until commercial actors stepped in," Quilty said, describing the first SpaceX crewed launch as a possible "Netscape Navigator" moment for the space industry. There are hundreds of private space companies on SpaceX's heels as well, thanks to about $24 billion of investment in the past decade. One of those companies is Axiom Space, which is planning private missions to the ISS as well as its own space station, and is led by CEO Mike Suffredini who led NASA's space station program for a decade. Suffredini told CNBC that, in addition to the milestones that SpaceX Demo-2 surpassed, the launch of astronauts has a more powerful and inspirational affect on the industry's growth. "We found in the agency over the years that astronauts had this unique ability to open the imaginations of all of us because we could all imagine ourselves participating." Suffredini said "The key aspect is that now people can relate to it." What it means for NASA NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (R) and Doug Hurley walk out of the Operations and Checkout Building on their way to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Beyond President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and much of this current administration's cabinet, many of NASA's leadership were on hand to witness the SpaceX Demo-2 launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. While this launch sent astronauts into orbit around the Earth, Morgan Stanley emphasized that it energizes NASA's plans to send crew further. "There is a significant sense of urgency to execute bolder and more audacious missions in space," Jonas said. "Advancements in the next 5 to 10 years in space from a commercial, scientific and dual purpose/military perspective appear to be on a course of non-linear growth." NASA's Commercial Crew program represents a high-profile shift in the way the agency awards funding to companies, as Bessemer Venture Partners vice president Tess Hatch told CNBC. "This public private partnership has already proven successful since SpaceX has delivered 20 resupply missions to the international space station, but this mission was especially important since it was the first time astronauts, rather than cargo, were on board," Hatch said. That model of a partnership through a fixed-price development contract is one that each analyst and investor that CNBC spoke to highlighted. Kahyaoglu called it "a pivotal moment" that is in a sense "a blueprint for accelerating timelines." Kim said that the launch's success "should instill confidence that public-private partnerships are an integral driving force" to NASA's long-term plans. And Anderson described it as "a new way of doing business for NASA and private partners," that makes use of incentives "to push innovation forward." "What this really represents is a foundational shift in how we operate in space, where NASA is the customer," Anderson added. "They're now applying that partnership model to other things, like the moon." SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft docks with the International Space Station on May 30, 2020. Quilty Analytics pointed out that NASA awarded SpaceX with about $1.75 billion to develop Crew Dragon. For comparison, the Planetary Society noted that the cost to develop the space shuttle was $27.4 billion in 2020 dollars. Beyond the comparatively low price to build the spacecraft, Crew Dragon is also expected to be the most cost-effective spacecraft to carry astronauts. NASA awarded SpaceX with $2.4 billion for six operational missions. Dividing those up, each Crew Dragon launch costs about $400 million, with $220 million of that cost allotted to the four astronauts NASA expects to fly per mission or $55 million per astronaut. For comparison, Quilty estimated that the space shuttle cost $1.75 billion per launch when adjusted for inflation more than four times as much. NASA even said it expects the Commercial Crew program will save U.S. taxpayers more than $20 billion compared to the agency's previously plan for flying astronauts to the ISS. "The launch represents yet another ... nail in the heavy-handed government-led approach of developing space hardware," Quilty said. NASA asked Congress for a $25.2 billion budget next year. Anderson believes that the cost savings from programs like Commercial Crew will allow NASA "to take those savings and put them into other space missions." "Things that are pushing the boundaries and helping us go farther and explore more distant places that we never had before," Anderson said. What it means for SpaceX For Musk's rocket builder, the Demo-2 mission represents the culmination of the company's work thus far. Musk founded the company in 2002 and has since declared its informal credo to be "making humanity a multi-planetary species." To date, SpaceX has launched dozens of satellites and spacecraft successfully with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. But, before Saturday, it had never put a human in space. "They have revolutionized the launch vehicle market through manufacturing and higher volume which has allowed for more cost effective solutions for customers," Kahyaoglu said. "This is one step in terms of evolution and potential application for human space affordability. It is about pushing the limits further than before, but also trying to do it at a lower cost." Quilty also noted that flying astronauts represents "a significant new revenue opportunity for SpaceX." "That can help fund the company's sprawling ambitions and activities," Quilty said. Suffredini's Axiom is one such SpaceX client, as the two companies signed a deal in March to fly three privately paying space tourists to the ISS for a 10-day mission. The mission will be managed by Axiom and will utilize SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule in what is expected to be "the first-ever fully private" trip to the space station. Suffredini told CNBC that he's worked with Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell for many years and believes the Demo-2 launch is "really energizing to the company" as a whole. "I think it's very moving for them, as a bunch of individuals working for the company, to say that 'nobody's done this before,'" Suffredini said. Axiom's first flight to the space station is scheduled for October 2021. Until SpaceX's first crewed launch, Suffredini said Axiom has had "customers kind of sitting on the sidelines," waiting for SpaceX to begin launch astronauts. The milestone helps "our customers know that it's going to be real," Suffredini added. He said the three passengers for Axiom's first launch have been identified and that the company plans to announce the crew in the next month or so. Additionally, Suffredini said Axiom is already talking to customers about the company's second and third flights, as "we do intend to fly about once every six months." But the plans of companies like Axiom would not be possible if it wasn't for SpaceX's success last weekend. "By proving they can launch humans safely into space, the company unlocks an endless realm of possibilities that can ultimately lead to human life on Mars," Kim said. Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.
Apple just made it easier to unlock your phone without FaceID because so many people are wearing masks - CNBC
The new feature is a sign that Apple is aware that its FaceID software is significantly less useful when people are wearing masks.
Apple tweaked its facial recognition system to make it easier to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. The tweak included in iOS 13.5, which was released on Wednesday, is subtle. Users with up-to-date software will now see an opportunity to enter their passcode or password when they swipe up and FaceID doesn't work. Previously, when Face ID couldn't identify a face, it would try again before displaying the passcode screen, causing a slight delay. The new feature is a sign that Apple is aware that its FaceID software, which has been a key selling point for new iPhones since 2017, is significantly less useful when people are wearing masks. The software can't identify a face if its mouth and nose are covered, and most recent iPhones don't have a fingerprint sensor. Face masks are increasingly being required as a condition to enter private businesses or to be in public in certain states. The CDC says that masks can help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus even from people who don't feel sick. There's no setting you need to turn on the new face mask unlock feature you simply need to download the latest software to your iPhone, iOS 13.5, in Settings > General > Software Update. The update also includes the technology needed for governments to make digital contact tracing and exposure notification apps which are intended to help track and slow the spread of coronavirus.
New Xbox on schedule but game production may be slowed by coronavirus, Microsoft exec says - CNBC
Xbox head Phil Spencer explains why he believes Xbox's game pipeline, rather than the release date of its next-gen console, is more likely to be disrupted by the coronavirus.
Microsoft executive vice president of gaming and head of Xbox Phil Spencer said coronavirus won't impact when Microsoft launches its next-gen game console. Instead, the outbreak may affect the new games that are supposed to be released in the coming months. "Overall, I think we're in line with where we thought we would be," he said while discussing the new Xbox Series X on Thursday during CNBC's "Squawk Alley." "I'd say the bigger unknown is probably the game production," he added ."Game production is a large scale entertainment activity now, you have hundreds of people coming together, building assets, working through creative." Spencer said he's still confident about the current state of game development but that the security and safety of his teams are top priority. Microsoft won't "push when things just aren't ready," he said. Microsoft's next game console is called the Xbox Series X. It will compete with Sony's PlayStation 5. There had been concerns in recent weeks that supply disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak could delay the releases of next-gen game consoles. Much of those concerns have shifted towards companies' game pipelines as publishers have started to delay release dates on some of the most highly-anticipated games of the year. With developers at home, some game releases have already been pushed back. Sony, for example, revealed earlier this month that it was delaying the release of "The Last of Us 2" to an undetermined date as the virus has put pressure on the production and distribution of games. It's one of the biggest titles set to launch in 2020. The next installment of the infamous Halo series, Halo Infinite, is set for release in Q4 2020 to go with the upcoming Xbox Series X. So far, that isn't delayed. Gaming engagement has surged as consumers socially distance and stay at home, with Verizon reporting in March that U.S. video game usage had soared 75% since restrictions were imposed. Xbox has been one of the direct benefactors of that surge. Microsoft said in its earnings on Tuesday that Xbox Live now has 90 million monthly users and Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's subscription video game service, has surpassed 10 million subscribers. While there may be some moderation that occurs as states begin to reopen and stay-at-home orders start to ease, Spencer pointed to the strength of the industry prior to the pandemic as a sign that consumers will continue to play games. "It's really just becoming a strong social fabric in the home at a time of need," he said.