What’s new in tech
There’s no fix for dead AirPods
“Cupertino, we have a problem,” said Geoffrey Fowler in The Washington Post. AirPods are great, but when the batteries wear out, they become useless. Apple will replace your dying earbuds for free if they are less than a year old. After that, if you just take them into an Apple Store, employees are likely to say that there’s no way to fix the AirPods. Because, in fact, there isn’t: I performed an autopsy on a pair of AirPods and “found so much glue I couldn’t even tug out the now-exposed end of the battery with tweezers.” But if you make sure to use the phrase “battery service”—really, code for tossing out the AirPods and giving you a new pair—Apple will replace them for $49 for each ear.
Campaigns turn to phone tracking
Political parties are “increasingly tapping into a new source of data”: your smartphone, said Sam Schechner in The Wall Street Journal. Campaigns can track potential voters “based on apps they use and places they have been, including rallies, churches, and gun clubs.” The data can be traced to a specific person, “allowing campaigns to determine who gets a fundraising call or a knock on the door.” Among the earliest to try this approach was Beto O’Rourke, whose Senate campaign in 2018 hired a company that “collected the unique ID numbers of phones that pinged their location” while at a rally, then matched IDs with email addresses. A political action committee supporting President Trump has also been using a company that employs location data gathered from phones to send targeted ads.
S.F. proposes licenses for new tech
“San Francisco may open a new office to prevent ‘reckless’ tech rollouts,” said Jon Fingas in Engadget.com. Tired of piles of abandoned scooters and other “out-of-control tech deployments,” the city last week revealed a proposal for a new office that will license new technologies. Supporters paint the new agency as a way to centralize the process for startups to get the necessary licenses to operate in the city—for instance, the transportation license and public health license that a food-delivering robot might need. But it “would also gauge the potential effects of a rollout and shut down projects that could harm privacy, safety, and security.” The proposed legislation is unlikely to please startups, which “may take longer to deploy their offering,”—an outcome that many San Franciscans weary of technology tests may see as a feature, not a bug.