This week had it all, a Tesla Roadster went to space, Uber settled its self-driving suit with Waymo, Apple released the HomePod to limited fanfare and the social media underlings (Snap and Twitter) finally impressed investors. I’ve got all the headlines here that you need to get caught up on the week’s news. Let’s hit it.
Even as his enterprises have struck seemingly deadly rough patches, Elon Musk’s showmanship has remained a constant. The bravado was on full display Tuesday as he tossed a cherry red Tesla Roadster into space with the successful launch of Falcon Heavy.
Broadcast images of a space-mannequin lounging in a car with earth floating behind him seemed destined to be an instant cultural moment. The general spirit around critical scientific thought seems to have taken a prolonged beating over the past couple of years and moreover, the broader public’s excitement for space exploration has been in desperate need of some energizing.
SpaceX has pulled off a lofty feat, and while there are still plenty of challenges ahead for the company, there are a lot more people paying attention now.
In what was a bit of a shock, Uber and Waymo’s long-winded legal struggles have already been settled, we learned Friday. Uber is going to pay Waymo what equates to around $244 million in stock and has pledged to work with Waymo to ensure that none of its intellectual property ends up in Uber’s self-driving tech.
The most important bit of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s letter to employees is below:
“To be clear, while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work.”
Avoiding a lengthy, public lawsuit was always in Uber’s best interest. By settling less than a week into the trial, Uber has a chance to (maybe) put its cavalcade of screw-ups behind it and go back to focusing on the hard tech and innovations that made it successful in the first place.
This week, Apple finally released its much-delayed smart speaker, the HomePod. Though it’s definitely not as smart as the offerings from Google and Amazon, it’s clear that Apple has attempted to build for the high-end with a speaker that TC’s Matthew Panzarino called “easily the best sounding mainstream smart speaker ever.”
Where the HomePod reaches its limits is where Siri’s functionality is curtailed. Another excerpt from our review: “[The HomePod] offers best-in-class voice recognition, vastly outstripping the ability of other smart speakers to hear you trying to trigger a command at a distance or while music is playing, but its overall flexibility is stymied by the limited command sets that the Siri protocol offers.”
The bottom line seems to be that it’s a worthy option if you have Apple Music, a HomeKit enabled device or two and a desire for a rather high-end standalone speaker. If you don’t have or don’t want those things, it becomes a bit more complicated. Check out the full review for more details.
What (else) happened this week 🤖
- Twitter is now worth more than Snap
- Elon Musk says SpaceX to focus on BFR following Falcon Heavy launch
- Nest is being rolled into Google’s hardware team
- Amazon begins offering Whole Foods deliveries via its Prime service
- Snap shares skyrocket on first earnings beat with revived user growth
- The Apple Watch can detect diabetes with an 85% accuracy, Cardiogram study says
- Reddit bans ‘involuntary porn’ communities that trade AI-generated celebrity videos
- Registration is now open for Disrupt SF 2018
Weekend Reads 💻
- SpaceX aims to make history 3 more times in 2018
- Why I decided to install Messenger Kids
- The real consequences of fake porn and news
- Snapchat almost acqui-hired anonymous app Secret
- Equity live from SaaStr: The market loses its mind, bitcoin tanks, and when will Slack go public
- Chinese police are using smart glasses to identify potential suspects
Have a love-filled week,