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What really matters from today’s Apple event

What really matters from today’s Apple event

Good morning! This Tuesday, Apple's about to launch some new products (and a lot of gray hairs within Facebook), Parler's coming back to the App Store, Mark Zuckerberg has thoughts about social audio, and asynchronous work is the future. Maybe.

Also, we have an event today! I'm hosting a smart group of panelists to talk about stakeholder capitalism, and what it looks like for your business to care about more than just maximizing shareholder return. It kicks off at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. PT, and you can watch it right here.

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The Big Story

Spring, loaded

Apple's about to announce some new devices. We're almost certainly going to get new iPads, and rumors point to a redesigned iMac, a slightly tweaked set of AirPods, maybe a new Apple TV (without that godawful Siri remote) and even the long-rumored AirTags item finder.

But privacy will be the real star. The biggest story of its Spring Loaded event — maybe the biggest Apple story of the year, maybe even the biggest tech story of the year — is a popup.

  • Apple's almost certainly launching iOS 14.5 in the next couple of days, bringing its App Tracking Transparency notifications to apps everywhere. That means you're about to get a lot of "Do you want to allow this app to track you?" notifications, and that Facebook and others are going to spend the next few days holding their breath to see how many people say no.
  • The advertising market is poised for a huge comeback, a lot of people think, as travel and other industries rebound in the next few months. But Facebook and others could be playing catch-up as they try to work with (and around) Apple's new policies.
  • Expect Apple to continue making its pro-privacy case today, which it clearly believes is both morally correct and a heck of a way to sell a lot of iPads.

That's not the only big story in Apple's orbit, though. Here are a few other things to keep an eye out for today:

  • The state of chips. Apple can make new gadgets, but how many of them can it build during a global chip shortage? Also, Apple's continuing to push its M1 chips, but it'll be a sign of confidence if it continues to phase out all things Intel.
  • Third-party access. If Apple does finally ship AirTags, execs will likely also talk about the fact that the Find My app is now open to third-party devices as well. This might be a subject better left for WWDC, but with an epic Epic trial two weeks away, I'd expect a few other gestures toward the broader ecosystem as well.
  • Audio. Apple has been a fairly negligent leader of the podcast industry for many years, but is reportedly about to announce a Podcasts+ service that might indicate it cares a lot more going forward. Plus, will Apple take on Clubhouse?
  • A hint of VR. I'd be surprised if we get a headset reveal today, but keep an eye on all the places Apple shows off AR and VR on other devices, and then imagine how they might work on a headset.

More Apple

Parler's coming back

Apple is allowing Parler on the App Store again. It's apparently happy with Parler's progress on content moderation and is planning to approve the next version of its app to be allowed back on the App Store.

  • Parler was in violation of two of Apple's rules: One that prohibits "objectionable content," which Apple seems to basically enforce with no rhyme or reason whenever it feels like it, and another on "user generated content" that requires apps to give users ways to filter out bad stuff and report it to the platform.
  • Apple said in a letter to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck that it didn't coordinate with Amazon, Google or any of the other companies that deplatformed Parler in the wake of the Capitol riots in January.

Parler always knew how badly it needed Apple. Since January the company has overhauled its infrastructure, fired its CEO and promised to change the way it moderates content. Its first set of community guidelines was deemed insufficient, and as recently as March 10, Apple was still rejecting Parler updates, and Parler was letting go of its iOS developers.

  • In a March statement, Parler's chief policy officer Amy Peikoff said, "We have since engaged Apple to show them how we've incorporated a combination of algorithmic filters and human review to detect and remove content that threatens or incites violence."
  • Peikoff noted new filtering and blocking tools the platform had released. "Parler expects and hopes to keep working with Apple to return to the App Store," Peikoff said at the time.

Buck called Parler's return a "huge win for free speech," but I'm not sure Parler execs will see it that way. In the end, it looks like Parler needed iOS more than it needed to remain an anything-goes haven for free-speech absolutists. As others have found, nobody takes on the App Store and wins.

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People Are Talking

The FTC is ready to crack down on unfair and overpromising AI, Elisa Jillson said:

  • "Under the FTC Act, your statements to business customers and consumers alike must be truthful, non-deceptive, and backed up by evidence. In a rush to embrace new technology, be careful not to overpromise what your algorithm can deliver."

Andrew Yang said if he's mayor, he'll try to get companies like Amazon to set up shop in New York:

  • "Big picture, you cannot let an employer that's going to create 26,000 high-paying jobs and probably an additional 100,000 or so service jobs walk away. You have to say New York City is the place for you."

Even Mark Cuban doesn't know what to make of Dogecoin's huge run:

  • "I have no idea what it means. But I do know that supply and demand is undefeated. So it will find its level."

Mark Zuckerberg isn't sure that over-moderating social audio is a good idea:

  • "I don't take it for granted that just because you have the ability to do different kinds of enforcement, that you should always do every single thing. I think that a lot of the time, you want to be on the side of free expression."

Zuckerberg also said a key to the creator economy will be letting them move between platforms:

  • "When we talk about giving favorable terms [to creators], it's actually not just the economics. I think it's also the portability, so that creators know that if they start building up a business here, that they're not just gonna be locked in, and will be able to take it to different places."

Making Moves

Ali Yahya is Andreessen Horowitz's newest general partner, focusing on crypto. He's been at a16z since 2017.

Andre Soelistyo will reportedly be the new CEO of GoTo, the mega-company created from the merger between Gojek and Tokopedia. I just can't believe they're not calling it Gopedia.

Brian Armstrong sold $291.8 million of Coinbase stock on its first day of trading. But he's got $12 billion or so left.

Meituan is planning to raise up to $10 billion, in an effort to spend its way to the top of the ecommerce heap in China.

Volvo signed up to build Didi's self-driving taxi fleet, years after Volvo's deal with Uber was scrapped after a fatal 2017 crash.

Herman Miller acquired Knoll, which isn't really a tech story except that it has huge ramifications in the office-chair world.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: Union organizers said Amazon illegally interfered in the Alabama election. Organizers filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Amazon of interfering with workers' rights.
  • Venmo is now allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. And WeWork will now accept payment in crypto, with Coinbase the first company to pay that way.
  • Elon said Autopilot wasn't on in the Texas Tesla crash, based on "data logs recovered so far." He said the car did not have the "Full Self Driving" feature purchased. Authorities have said no one was in the driver's seat.
  • On Protocol | Policy: Republican tech skeptics are flirting with progressives' choice for antitrust chief. Longtime Google critic Jonathan Kanter is quickly becoming the preferred choice of tech skeptics on both sides of the aisle to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division, sources told Protocol.
  • On Protocol: The British government is intervening in the Nvidia-Arm deal. The government said it would intervene on national security grounds, requiring U.K. competition authorities to prepare a report on the deal by July 30.
  • Facebook announced a bunch of audio features, including creation tools, podcasts and Spotify support in the Facebook app, as well as a Clubhouse clone in Facebook and Messenger. Reddit also announced its Clubhouse clone, "Reddit Talk."
  • Facebook deemed Minneapolis a high-risk location due to the impending Derek Chauvin verdict. It said it would remove "calls to bring arms" to the city, and would take "extra steps to limit misinformation."
  • Google's Wilson White will testify at the Senate antitrust hearing tomorrow, Bloomberg reported. Apple's Kyle Andeer, Spotify's Horacio Gutierrez, Tile's Kirsten Daru and Match's Jared Sine will also reportedly testify.

Work In The Future

Embrace async

Gumroad's Sahil Lavingia posted a Twitter thread in January explaining why going asynchronous was more important than going remote. He said it made everything more sane. "All communication is thoughtful. Because nothing is urgent (unless the site is down), comments are made after mindful processing and never in real-time. There's no drama," he wrote.

A lot of people talk about that Twitter thread. Including, yesterday, VC James Beshara, who wrote that after following Lavingia's advice, "I am less of a burden … when I communicate thoughtfully and comprehensively, often through a Loom video than reams of text in an email, than if I fell back on old habits of saying 'let's jump on a call or find time for a meeting.'"

Going totally async is probably too much for most companies and teams, but it's worth thinking about which meetings should be Slack threads, which all-hands should be on-demand videos, and what can be documented and thus never discussed again. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

A MESSAGE FROM CLEAR | HEALTH PASS

CLEAR is working to help you connect your vaccine to your Health Pass. You will soon be able to create a digital vaccination record in the free CLEAR app. Download the app and get ready.

Learn more

---

Join Protocol's Tomio Geron for a discussion on the future of commerce with Whatnot's Grant LaFontaine and a16z's Connie Chan at #CollisionConf on April 21. Learn more

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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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