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Today’s Storystream

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Snap is about to announce more layoffs.

I’m hearing that about 150 employees are being cut as part of a reorganization of Snap’s AR division. Snap’s communications team declined to comment, though I’m expecting more details to be shared tomorrow.

For those who have been following Snap’s business lately, this news shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Even after laying off 20 percent of employees in August 2022, Snap has yet to convince investors that it has the financial discipline to get to sustained profitability. These cuts don’t mean Snap is backing away from its AR strategy, however, I’m told.

That’s all for tonight.

We’ll be back bright and early tomorrow (at least, early on the West Coast) with coverage of Code day two, featuring Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott, X CEO Linda Yaccarino, and more. The show kicks off around 12PM ET / 9AM PT.

“I think you can pay more,”

WMG CEO Robert Kyncl jokes about the price of music services like Spotify. Basically: he’d like to see them go up.

“The price elasticity is generally high around it,” he says. He floats $20 per month for a music family plan — the same price as Netflix for four.

The Creator retreads familiar AI panic territory to stunningly inert effect

Gareth Edwards’ new dystopian sci-fi epic is a gorgeous morass of AI doomerism that’s lacking in the way of novel ideas.

I asked David Baszucki about the potential of interoperability between different virtual worlds platforms.

The short answer seems to be no. But in his response, he talked a lot about file formats and how they might differ for things like a pair of virtual shoes and wheels that fall off a virtual car. That might make any interchangeability would be a tricky problem to solve; companies like Roblox, Meta, and Epic Games would have to agree on file formats that could sync across systems. My sense is they might be reticent to do that right now.

Another hint that physical shopping is coming to Roblox.

David Baszucki, Roblox’s co-founder and CEO, mentioned that while physical shopping is “not yet really announced or promised,” it could be something that brands do within Roblox at some point. But it’s on the roadmap — the company included a goal about physical shopping in its big predictions for the next five years of the company.

AMD Lisa Su on Apple’s claim that the iPhone 15 Pro is “the best game console”: “I don’t know about that.”

I asked Su if she’s worried about Apple’s recent push to prove that its devices and M series chips are good for triple-A gaming. I get the sense she’s not.

“We’re gonna continue to push the envelope on the highest performing PCs and consoles’ chips, and I think we’re gonna be pretty good,” she added.

(I recommend reading the IGN interview where Apple made that claim, by the way. It’s by Verge alum Taylor Lyles!)

“Is this the end of console gaming? I don’t see it.”

AMD’s Lisa Su somewhat dodges a question about whether a cloud gaming shift is underway: “I see PC gaming strong, I see console gaming strong, and I see console gaming also having legs. They all need similar types of technology but they obviously use it in different ways.”

Why the First Amendment protects liars

How a tall tale from a California water official tested the Constitution’s limits.

“AI is like 10x, 100x more” impactful than phones, the internet, and PCs, says AMD CEO Lisa Su.

But she says she’s looking at AI on a 10-plus year cycle — not just over the next four quarters. And there’s still a lot of room to improve our current models with higher performing chips.

“Generative AI, you know, is kind of the killer app for high performance computing,” she says.

AMD’s Lisa Su says that chip supply and demand are in a good place — with perhaps the exception of GPUs for LLM training and inference.

But Su says the company is putting “a tremendous amount of effort to getting the entire supply chain ramped up.”

“I think in this decade, we’re gonna see, in the next handful of years, some very interesting products across all the price ranges.”

I asked Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe how long it might be until we get to a truly affordable EV, and he thinks it could happen in a not-to-distant future.

Right now, many EVs are very expensive, and a huge part of the cost is because of the batteries. The company launched its vehicles at the higher end of pricing, and Scaringe says that the company hopes to keep driving down costs over time.

Switching to NACS will benefit Rivian too, Scaringe says.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said that the forthcoming switch to NACS will not only mean that Rivians can charge at Tesla’s Supercharger stations, but Teslas can also charge on Rivian’s own charging network. Hadn’t thought about that — nice perk!

How Uber learned to stop fighting and play nice with taxis

Uber is listing more and more taxi drivers in its app, most recently in Los Angeles. How did the two sides come together? In short, money.

A Rivian vehicle without a steering wheel? “That’s not in our roadmap today.”

CEO RJ Scaringe says that a vehicle without a steering wheel has a “relatively constrained” set of use-cases. It can also create a feeling of “steering anxiety,” which is an incredible term.

“It’s our number one complaint from customers.”

Scaringe says Rivian is still working on its months-to-years long backlog and ramping up production to meet it.

“It’s an incredibly high-cost problem to have,” he said. But he doesn’t want to get rid of it entirely. “It’s good to have some backlog.”

He questioned whether it should be six months of backlog or more like a year and a half. I heard an audible “Yiiiiick,” from a woman behind me.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe on Rivian’s customers vs. the Cybertruck’s: “There’s probably not a lot of overlap.”

But he’s happy that there’s competition. “I think it’s great that a product like that exists in the world.”

The Code Conference is about to get started.

Day one kicks off with Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe, AMD CEO Lisa Su, Roblox CEO David Baszucki, and Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl.

A photo of the Code Conference 2023 stage.
A photo of the Code Conference 2023 stage.
Photo: Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge

The Action Button is the most significant new iPhone feature in years

A little button that you can program to do virtually anything you want unlocks a lot of possibilities for the computer that’s with you the most often.

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Amazon released a new Kindle app for the sickos who read books on a Mac.

Amazon has released a new Kindle app for macOS, reports Good e-Reader. The new app has been redesigned to look more like iOS and now supports new features like a reading ruler, more fonts, a full-screen view, and page-turn animations.

You had me at page-turn animations, Amazon.

Baldur’s Gate 3’s best boss-melting weapon is the cursed body of a dead child.

My favorite testament to the open-endedness of Baldur’s Gate 3 so far: this short, lightly spoiler-y guide to beating one of the game’s hardest bosses using the status effect of a minor side quest NPC. (If this hasn’t been patched yet... it likely will be soon.)

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A new GPU vulnerability makes Firefox and Safari look more appealing.

ArsTechnica summarized research that documents a vulnerability in both integrated and discrete GPUs which lets a website pull pixels from another site through the use of iframes and the exploitation of side channels created by the GPU when it compresses data. The vulnerability hinges on accessing that side channel to reproduce what’s on screen, pixel by pixel.

Fortunately, the researchers don’t believe this is a true threat — and neither do Nvidia, Qualcomm, or Google, per statements published at Ars. However, according to Ars, some browsers, including Chrome and Edge, are technically vulnerable. Firefox and Safari are not.

Reddit updates its moderator policies to prevent dormant mods from taking over.

“Starting today, inactive moderators won’t be able to perform certain actions, including adding or removing moderators, or changing the community’s settings (type, description, NSFW status, discovery settings),” Reddit says. These seem like good changes!

Would Safari have been popular without its Google integration?

Google certainly doesn’t seem to think so. In his questioning of Apple’s Eddy Cue this afternoon, Google’s John Schmidtlein took Cue on a journey through Safari history, and Cue said that Safari’s integration of a search box and URL bar was part of what made the browser worked. And that only worked because Google was there — or so the argument goes.

Also, Cue dropped a classic Apple Reality Distortion Field line: “One of the benefits that Google gets from Apple is that we’re telling the world Google is the best search engine, because that’s what customers expect us to pick.”

Apple’s new software is widgets all the way down

Plus, in this week’s Installer: new Amazon and Microsoft gear, DALL-E 3, smart homes, and flight apps.

US v. Google: all the news from the search antitrust showdown

One of the biggest tech antitrust trials since the US took on Microsoft is underway.

Zuck just teased augmented reality Lego — and then made it vanish.

Tomorrow, Meta will explain why you should pay $500 for a Quest 3 at Meta Connect... and I’m starting to wonder if Lego will be part of the pitch. See the blocks in Zuck’s image below? They’ve got trademarked Lego logos on top!

But Zuck has since yanked his video, and Microsoft’s similar teases with Minecraft have yet to produce a killer app.

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Meta says Threads account deletion is coming this year.

Soon after Meta’s Instagram-based Twitter competitor launched, some of the millions of people who activated Threads noticed a small issue. Once you create an account on Threads, the only way to delete it is to delete your Instagram account, too.

However, Meta chief privacy officer Michel Protti said during the TechCrunch Disrupt event that Meta will launch individual deletion for Threads accounts by December. Another situation it’s working on handling is fediverse support for situations like “what happens when a Threads post goes to another server and is then deleted by the author.”

Apple Vision Pro shipments could be lower than expected.

In a new report, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple will ship 400,000 to 600,000 of its mixed-reality headsets in 2024, an estimate that’s lower than the expected 1 million shipments.

That prediction tracks with a July report from The Financial Times, which similarly states that Apple is preparing to make less than 400,000 Vision Pro headsets next year.