Power

Everyone loves a foldable phone

Both Google and Microsoft filed foldable-phone-related patents this week. Could more bendy phones be on the horizon?

A drawing of a paper origami crane

Is this the next Pixel Phone?

Image: Protocol

Another week of neat patent filings from the big tech companies. Amazon wants to help you not waste time, Apple cares about battery life, and both Google and Microsoft have bendy phones on the brain.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

Alphabet

Foldable screen for a bendy phone

Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have loved the idea of a big phone — bigger screen, longer battery life, easier to hold — but wish that it could do what a small phone does: fit comfortably in a pocket. Everyone from LG to Samsung to Motorola has tried to make foldable phones in the last few years, but none have hit the mainstream. The main complaint is that the screen is too fragile to withstand all that folding.

This patent imagines making a foldable screen that attaches to the foldable OLED screen, giving the entire thing a little more structure, durability and support. It outlines various configurations of links and brackets that can bend and move in various ways. Looks like the Pixel might have a bendy future.

Amazon

Your order's ready

My favorite thing to do during quarantine was pick up orders: I ordered something via an app, and was then alerted when my order was ready. Then I'd hop in the car, park in a designated spot and pop the trunk so the sales associate could put my bags in the car. Each store had various levels of sophistication on how their app worked. Some asked you to text a number when you got there, some asked you to enter your spot number into the app. And some, like this patent describes, just knew when you were coming.

This patent lays out how a store can be alerted when a customer is coming, so neither the customer nor the salesperson needs to sit around and wait. By having the customer opt in for the app to track their location, speed or direction, the app can make a pretty solid guess about when the customer will show up. Or, by using geographical fences, the salesperson could be alerted how far away the customer is, and do various tasks (start grabbing things off the shelves, for example) that will make pickup orders even more efficient.

Apple

Better way to find your friends

The Find My feature on the iPhone lets you find the location of your Apple devices, if you have it turned on on each device. It also lets you send your location to friends and family, and if they want, they can share their location with you, too. It's key for parents, who want to keep an eye on where their teens are going. And it's fun to share your location with friends, so you don't have to ever text "When will you be here??" again.

The problem with location tracking is that it eats up a ton of battery and system resources. But this patent imagines a way to save battery life, as it assumes that you don't always need to know someone's precise location (what the patent calls a "deep location"). If you do want to know more precisely where your friends are, you can ask Find My to go a little deeper, which is where the battery-sucking GPS comes in, but only briefly, and you can even stop sharing your location completely after even just a few minutes.

Understand my crappy handwriting better

I don't have the best handwriting, but if you asked my iPhone what it thought of my handwriting, it would tell you that I don't know what I'm doing. But it's not my fault! The iPhone has a hard time figuring out what I'm trying to say even when I write block letters in all caps. This patent wants to make writing on a phone even easier, by tweaking the way the phone recognizes inputs, including how hard you press on the screen.

Facebook

AR for everyone

As AR devices become more popular in enterprise, IT departments will have to figure out how to maintain all the devices so that they're up to date and don't have any issues. This patent wants to make that process a bit easier, by allowing multiple devices to be maintained and updated at once.

Sign in much faster

There's absolutely nothing worse than using an AR or VR device and having to type in a password, letter by letter, hoping that you don't mess something up because it makes you want to throw something. This patent offers various alternatives, including using a phone number or numbered code to log you in much faster.

Microsoft

Another foldable phone?

Looks like the foldable Pixel Phone might have some competition: Microsoft is also thinking about a foldable phone future, but of the UI, not the screen itself. It lays out all the various ways that the UI can turn ugly if it's in a folded or unfolded state. Maybe Google and Microsoft should team up on a Windows Pixel Phone?

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

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Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

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FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
Enterprise

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Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

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Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

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Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

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