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Video: Here’s everything you need to know about Huawei’s new hardware

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Every year at the Huawei Developer Conference (HDC) in Shenzhen, China, the company reveals its latest innovations, shiny new products, and upcoming strategy. If you love Huawei products (and may even be reading this from your own beloved P30 Pro) this is the place to be.

But if you missed this year’s livestream of HDC2020 (September 10-12), not to worry! We’ve put together two handy recap videos and articles of the company’s latest advancements in its line of hardware and software.

We’ll start off here with (what you’re probably most excited about) the new gadgets. Check out this video recap from TNW’s Callum Booth:

Now check out our write up of Huawei’s six new products: 

Audio

Freebuds Pro

Perhaps the coolest new feature of these wireless earbuds is what Huawei calls ‘Intelligent Dynamic noise cancelation.’ But just what does that mean? 

With a combination of hardware and software, the Freebuds Pro pick up on ambient noise levels and adjust accordingly between three different noise-canceling modes:

Cozy mode, great for quieter surroundings like libraries or offices to gently drown out soft noises like typing and paper flipping. 

General mode, which keeps you jamming whether at a busy cafe or out on the streets. 

And, last but not least, Ultra mode with the power to block out unruly children on an airplane (even if they’re yours). 

If you want to stay semi in touch with your surroundings, you can switch to awareness mode or voice mode, which uses an algorithm to drown out ambient noises while keeping you alert to human voices. 

And the Freebuds Pro have a battery life of up to 30 hours (with the ANC off).

Freelace Pro

The Freelace Pro should excite those of you who are sportier than yours truly (aka everyone). 

Like the Freebuds Pro, the Freelace Pro also uses Active Noise Cancellation technology. This means that, while on your run or training in the gym, you can drown out your surroundings, and crank up your focus. If you want to switch to voice mode, simply tap and hold the left earbud. 

If, like me, you always forget to charge your gear, not to worry. Just a five minute charge will give you five hours of playtime. When fully charged, the Freelace Pro can last up to 24 hours. If you’re out on the go, you can also charge and pair it with your phone using a USB-C.

Cool design feature: The earbuds are magnetic and snap together when not in use, meaning you’ll never lose them.

Smartwatches

GT2 Pro 

For those who want the capabilities of a Fitbit or Apple watch, but don’t like the sporty look, the GT2 Pro has a classically styled rounded watch face, choices between a classic or sport wristband, and over 200 watch face designs to choose from.

While it may look more elegant than your typical sports watch, it still packs in data tracking for over 100 fitness activities. In particular, skiers and snowboarders will love the snow sports-focused mode including heart rate monitoring, average speed, maximum slope, track, and distance. If golf is your game, the GT2 Pro comes with a built-in personal golf coach capable of analyzing your swing and using data to help you level up your performance. 

If you’re a runner who likes to blaze your own trails, one cool new feature is Route back. Imagine you’re running through a forest… and all the trees start to look the same. Then you realize your GPS signal is low… Not to worry, this isn’t the start of a scary movie. Simply use the recorded travel route to find your way back home. 

The GT2 is compatible with Qi wireless chargers and also supports reverse charging with your phone. It has a two-week battery life but, if you’re hopeless at remembering to charge, just plug it in for five min to get ten hours of battery life. 

Watch Fit

For those of you who like the sporty look, Huawei’s Watch Fit is your poison. It has 96 workout modes and an animated personal trainer to take you through exercise routines. 

What’s new about this watch is its rounded rectangular watch face which supports a 1.64 inch AMOLED screen. Altogether it weighs just 34 grams and has a total battery life of 10 days

One more new addition is that this model has a 5 ATM waterproof rating, meaning it can last up to 10 min submerged up to 50m underwater. 

Laptops

Huawei announced two new laptops, the Matebook X and Matebook 14. Both laptops have some cool new features including a 90% screen to body ratio, giving you a full-screen experience, and a light touch trackpad which provides haptic feedback.

In line with the company’s strategic move towards product integration, they’ve made it even easier to connect your phone with your laptop through its Huawei Share tech. Simply tap your phone on the laptop’s share icon. This creates a virtual version of your phone on the screen, allowing you to drag and drop files and edit them directly on your laptop.

Two new security features include a camera that’s stored under your keypad and pops out only when you want to use it, and fingerprint authentication. 

Both laptops boast 16GB of memory and a 56 wh battery, which gives you up to 10 continuous hours of 1080p video playback. 

Getting down to the differences between the two, the Matebook X is a lighter weight laptop, perfect for bringing to the office or a cafe. Meanwhile, the Matebook 14 is a more powerful version (great for video editors and gamers) which ensures faster downloads and smooth performance. Plus it features a new Shark Fin 2.0 fan to dissipate the heat generated by your mad gaming skills. 

Matebook X 

  • Weighs 1 kilo
  • 13-inch screen
  • 3000 x 2000 px resolution

Matebook 14

  • Weighs 1.49 kilos
  • 14-inch screen 
  • 2160 x 1440 px resolution

That was our quick overview of Huawei’s promising new hardware gadgets. For more info, check out their website

But that’s not all! If you want to know more about the company’s new software offerings, stay tuned for our second video/article giving you the lowdown.

This article is brought to you by Huawei.

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Human Capital: Court ruling could mean trouble for Uber and Lyft as gig workers may finally become employees

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Welcome back to Human Capital! As many of you know, Human Capital is a weekly newsletter where I break down the latest in labor, as well as diversity and inclusion in tech. It’s officially available as a newsletter, so if you want this content when it comes in hot Fridays at 1 p.m. PT, subscribe here

Since the election is coming up, this edition focuses heavily on California ballot measure Proposition 22. The TL;DR is that gig companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash really want to keep classifying their drivers and delivery folks as independent contractors, so they put millions of dollars into this ballot measure. This week, we saw Prop 22-related complaints and lawsuits filed, and an appeals court judge decide Uber and Lyft must reclassify their drivers. We also heard directly from gig workers on both sides about why they do or do not want to be independent contractors.

But we’ll also look at SoftBank’s first investment from its D&I fund, Pinterest’s addition of a new Black board member and more. Let’s jump in. 


Labor Struggles


Uber and Lyft must classify drivers as employees, court rules

But. And this is a big but. Uber and Lyft will likely appeal this decision and it’s also possible this decision won’t matter depending on how Prop 22 goes. We’re just a couple of weeks out from Election Day and this decision has a thirty day hold on it once the remittitur goes into effect. And that remittitur has not yet been issued.

Throughout the case, Uber and Lyft have argued that reclassifying their drivers as employees would cause irreparable harm to the companies. In the ruling today, the judge said neither company would suffer any “grave or irreparable harm by being prohibited from violating the law” and that their respective financial burdens “do not rise to the level of irreparable harm.”

Additionally, there is nothing in the preliminary injunction, according to the judge, that would prevent Uber and Lyft from offering flexibility and independence to their drivers. Lastly, the judge said Uber and Lyft have had plenty of time to transition their drivers from independent contractors to employees, given that the key case in passing AB 5, the gig worker bill that spurred this lawsuit, was decided in 2018.

Amazon workers protest for time off to vote

Ahead of Election Day, Amazon employees protested at the company’s headquarters in Seattle for paid time off to vote. In a statement to GeekWire, Amazon said employees that don’t have enough time off can request additional, excused time off. 

“The number of hours and pay provided to employees varies by state in line with local laws,” the spokesperson said.

According to GeekWire, Amazon notified managers that they should approve PTO requests for voting. 

Tech companies that are giving employees paid time off for Election Day include Salesforce, Apple (hourly employees get four hours), Facebook, Twitter, Uber and others. 

No on Prop 22 camp files complaint with USPS against Yes on 22

Opponents of California’s Proposition 22  filed a complaint this week with the United States Postal Service. The No on 22 campaign alleges the Yes side is not eligible for a nonprofit postal status and is asking USPS to revoke its permit.

It’s much cheaper to send campaign mailers as a nonprofit organization. For example, sending between 1 – 200,000 small mailers to every door normally costs $0.302 per piece. As a nonprofit, that costs $0.226 per piece, according to USPS. To be clear, the Yes on 22 campaign confirmed it was formed as a nonprofit organization under IRS section 501(c)(4), which pertains to social welfare organizations. But the No on 22 side says USPS erred in approving the Yes on 22 campaign.

In a statement to TC, Yes on 22 spokesperson Geoff Vetter said, “As a 501(c)(4) organization, Yes on 22 is eligible for the appropriate nonprofit postage rates with the USPS, which we applied for and were granted by the U.S. Postmaster.”

Uber faces class-action lawsuit over Prop 22

Uber is facing a class-action lawsuit over Proposition 22 that alleges the company is illegally coercing its drivers to support the ballot measure that seeks to keep workers classified as independent contractors. The suit was brought forth by two Uber drivers, Benjamin Valdez and Hector Castellanos, as well as two California nonprofit organizations, Worksafe and Chinese Progressive Association.

In the suit, the plaintiffs argue Uber has encouraged its drivers and delivery workers to support Prop 22 via the company’s driver-scheduling app.

“This is an absurd lawsuit, without merit, filed solely for press attention and without regard for the facts,” Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman said in a statement to TechCrunch. “It can’t distract from the truth: that the vast majority of drivers support Prop 22, and have for months, because they know it will improve their lives and protect the way they prefer to work.”

Shipt workers protest outside Target and Shipt headquarters

Shipt shoppers followed through with their protest plans this week when they staged actions at Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis and Shipt’s headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. 

Ahead of the protests, Shipt shopper and organizer with Gig Workers Collective told me his goal was to bring attention to the new pay structure Shipt began rolling out and how shoppers “are getting paid less for more effort.”

Gig workers speak for and against Prop 22

TC relaunched the Mixtape podcast and as part of that, Henry Pickavet and I chatted with Vanessa Bain, an Instacart shopper who opposes Prop 22 and Doug Mead, a gig worker who supports Prop 22. The whole episode is worth listening to, but here are some key nuggets from them. First up, Bain:

“If all it takes is putting the hiring process and the bossing into an app on your phone to rewrite labor laws, every company on the planet is going to be doing that. There’s so much more, unfortunately, at stake here than just Uber and Lyft and ride share and grocery delivery and how you’re going to get your DoorDash orders. Literally the future of labor is at stake.”

Next up, Mead:

“It’s really the government — their intent to remove a person’s control over how they want to be compensated. And that to me just makes no sense whatsoever,” Mead told us. “I should be in control of how I want to be compensated and by who.”

You can check out the full episode here


Stay Woke


SoftBank invests in Vitable Health as part of D&I fund

SoftBank’s $100 million Opportunity Fund, which it formed in June to invest in founders of color, made its first bet on Vitable Health. The company focuses on providing health insurance to underserved and low-income communities. 

SoftBank’s Opportunity Fund led the $1.6 million round, which included participation from Y Combinator, DNA Capital, Commerce Ventures, MSA Capital, Coughdrop Capital and a handful of angel investors. 

Pinterest brings on another Black board member 

Pinterest brought on its second Black female board member, Salaam Coleman Smith. Smith’s appointment comes a couple of months after Pinterest appointed its first Black board member, Andrea Wishom.

Smith is the former EVP of Programming and Strategy at Disney’s ABC Family and Freeform, as well as former president of Comcast NBCUniversal’s Style Media. 

Here’s an updated look at Black board member representation at major tech companies.

Netflix is launching a tech bootcamp for HBCU students 

Netflix announced a virtual HBCU Boot Camp for students from Norfolk State University, a historically black university in Virginia. Specifically, it’s open for current students and alumni from the classes of 2019 and 2020.

In partnership with online education platform 2U, the boot camp will teach 130 students Java engineering, UX/UI design and data science over the course of 16 weeks beginning in January. A bonus is that members of Netflix’s data science, engineering and design teams will serve as mentors to the students. 

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See inside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in iFixit’s latest teardown video

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In its latest teardown video, iFixit took apart an iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, and found that the devices look pretty similar to each other on the inside. The displays are interchangeable, iFixit found, and so are the 10.78 Wh batteries.

The iPhone 12 is on the left, the iPhone 12 Pro is on the right.
iFixit

When they removed the camera shield on the iPhone 12, iFixit found a plastic spacer where the iPhone 12 Pro has its telephoto lens and LiDAR sensor. Both devices have 12 MP wide and ultra-wide cameras.

iFixit also examined an X-ray (courtesy of Creative Electron) of the insides of the phones, which show the MagSafe wireless charging array. The X-ray of the iPhone 12 Pro appears to have a black border, but it’s the stainless steel frame (the iPhone 12 has an aluminum frame).

iPhone Pro is on the right
Creative Electron

As for a repairability score, iFixit gave the iPhone 12s a 6 out of 10; the devices have a lot of screws to keep track of when you’re tinkering (which iFixit notes is better than glue), and the improved waterproofing may make some repairs more difficult, but will reduce the likelihood of needing to repair water damage. The biggest downside is the glass on the front and back of both devices, iFixit said, which increases the chances the phones would be damaged if dropped.

[embedded content]

Check out iFixit’s full iPhone and iPhone 12 teardowns here, and The Verge reviews below.

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Epic says Apple ‘has no rights to the fruits of Epic’s labor’ in latest filing

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Epic Games fired back against Apple yet again in a new court filing, saying the iPhone maker “has no rights to the fruits of Epic’s labor,” the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between the two companies.

A quick recap: Back in August, Epic introduced a new direct-payment system in its wildly popular Fortnite game to bypass Apple’s 30 percent fee. Apple kicked Fortnite off the App Store for breaking its rules, and Epic responded with a civil lawsuit against Apple, alleging that Apple was violating antitrust law. Epic also revealed that Apple threatened to terminate the developer account used to support the company’s Unreal Engine platform, which would prevent Epic from developing future games for iOS or Mac.

Earlier this month, US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers granted an injunction that prevents Apple from retaliating against Unreal Engine, but refused to grant an injunction that would have restored Fortnite in Apple’s App Store.

Meanwhile, Apple said it would seek damages against Epic for allegedly breaching its contract with the iOS App Store. The filing included counterclaims for unjust enrichment and tortious interference with Apple’s relationship with its customers.

Apple maintains that there were legitimate business reasons for its actions. “At all times, [Apple’s] conduct was reasonable and … its actions were undertaken in good faith to advance legitimate business interests and had the effect of promoting, encouraging, and increasing competition,” the complaint read. “Epic’s flagrant disregard for its contractual commitments and other misconduct has caused significant harm to Apple.”

But in Friday’s filing, Epic said its actions “are a far cry from the tortious—even purportedly criminal—conduct that Apple’s Opposition depicts. Simply put, Epic did not “steal” anything that belonged to Apple.” The company couldn’t “steal” proceeds from the sales of its own creative efforts, and did not “interfere with any prospective economic advantage Apple sought to gain from Fortnite users separate and apart from their interest in Fortnite,” the filing states.

“Apple’s repeated assertions of theft boil down to the extraordinary assertion that Epic’s collection of payments by players of Epic’s game to enjoy the work of Epic’s artists, designers, and engineers is the taking of something that belongs to Apple,” Epic said in its filing.

Rogers said the case should go to a jury to decide and suggesting a trial frame of summer 2021. “It is important enough to understand what real people think,” she said. “Do these security issues concern people or not?”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.

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