Big tech's small pause

Over the past few days, Google, Sony, and EA all put their planned big product announcements this week on pause. Some ride sharing and delivery companies are ceasing operations in cities with curfews. Nearly very big tech company executive has issued a statement about racism or ending policy brutality in the US.

A few of those executives and companies have backed their statements up with donations to various causes. Other companies have taken action with their products — for example, Grindr says it will remove ethnicity filters in its app. These acts aren't nothing, but they don't feel sufficient to the moment. Very little does.

If you are looking to donate yourself, we've put together a list for you here.

It's natural for big tech to not want to do Big Brand Things during a national crisis. When the pandemic first hit, tech companies took awhile to figure out how to protect their own employees and then to figure out how to continue making and releasing products. Companies and Apple and Google also needed to decide how much public health responsibility to take on when the US government was so clearly botching its response. It all took a month or two, but it felt like they found their feet.

Figuring out what big tech actually has a responsibility to do about system racism and police brutality is going to take quite a lot longer. This week, the tech companies are pausing. They don't know what their role is in fixing these issues, but that shouldn't stop us from demanding they help. As citizens — as humans — we face the same issues. Next must come the real work to make things better. Not just for big tech, but for all of us.

- Dieter

SpaceX's successful launch

┏ SpaceX successfully launches first crew to orbit, ushering in new era of spaceflight. After a fun liveblog, Loren Grush wrote the story that will help you understand what this accomplishment means. I have mixed feelings about NASA's reliance on the private industry and what that means for our sense of collective action through spaceflight, but they all took a backseat to feeling happy and proud for just a few brief minutes over the weekend. The only minutes I really did.

The Commercial Crew Program was created to end NASA's reliance on Russia but also to jump-start a new way of doing business at NASA. For all of spaceflight history, the government has been in charge of overseeing the design, production, and operation of spacecraft that take humans into orbit. With Commercial Crew, NASA wanted the private sector to get involved. When NASA first awarded SpaceX and Boeing their contracts in 2014, NASA hoped that they would be flying their vehicles by 2017. Technical delays and testing failures set the program back, but eventually, SpaceX made it to today's milestone.

┏ Meet the cute stuffed dinosaur that hitched a ride on SpaceX's historic launch.

┏ Watch NASA astronauts fly SpaceX's Crew Dragon using touchscreens. A lot of us here at The Verge were struck by the interface on the Spacex Crew Dragon (we are those kinds of nerds). Of course there's nothing weird about a modern rocket using a modern interface, but I think the difference is that so many of our cultural references for space come from an earlier age, when switches and buttons had a more direct electrical connection to the things they controlled. TKTK TWITTER SEARCH TKTK

The company broadcast footage of the test during its live stream, and though it consisted of just a few taps, it was a stunning thing to see astronauts nudge their spacecraft around using the same display technology we use to tweet, check instagram, scroll through email, or swipe for Tinder dates

┏ SpaceX's Crew Dragon successfully docks with the space station. Loren Grush:

The Crew Dragon's docking showcased one of the biggest features of SpaceX's capsule: its automated docking system. The vehicle is designed to autonomously approach the ISS and latch on to a standardized docking port, without any input from its human passengers. SpaceX successfully showcased this ability last year when the company sent a test version of the Crew Dragon to the space station without a crew on board. But this time, the company needed to prove that the Crew Dragon could deliver when it had its most precious cargo on board.

Verge Deal of the day 

Sennheiser's HD 25 on-ear headphones are $50 off

In celebration of its 75th birthday, Sennheiser is offering a steep discount on the HD 25 on-ear, wired headphones. They usually cost $150, but through all of June they're priced at $100. Buying them scores you a chance at getting the limited-edition colorway with yellow earpads.

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Trump's messy war on the internet

┏ Donald Trump is starting a messy fight with the entire internet. Russell Brandom on Section 230:

It's increasingly controversial and frequently misinterpreted, however. Critics argue that its broad protections let powerful companies ignore real harm to users. On the other hand, some lawmakers incorrectly claim that it only protects "neutral platforms" — a term that's irrelevant to the law.

┏ Donald Trump signs executive order targeting social media companies.

┏ Let's go through Trump's terrible internet censorship order, line by line. Masterclass from Adi Robertson. Read through this and you'll understand more about how Section 230 works and what it means than ...the majority of our legistlators.

┏ Joe Biden doesn't like Trump's Twitter order, but still wants to revoke Section 230. I'm not going to say 230 needs to stay as it, but every plan I've seen to revoke it has been slapdash — dangerously so.

Biden's position on Section 230 remains unchanged. A spokesperson for the campaign told The Verge Friday that the former vice president maintains his position that the law should be revoked and that he would seek to propose legislation that would hold social media companies accountable for knowingly platforming falsehoods. Unlike Trump, Biden's policies are meant to lead to more moderation of misinformation, rather than less.

┏ FCC commissioner says Trump's Section 230 plan 'does not work'.

┏ Donald Trump's executive order is 'plainly illegal,' says co-author of Section 230. Ron Wyden:

He's clearly targeting Section 230 because it protects private businesses' right not to have to play host to his lies. As the co-author of Section 230, let me make this clear – there is nothing in the law about political neutrality. It does not say companies like Twitter are forced to carry misinformation about voting, especially from the president. Efforts to erode Section 230 will only make online content more likely to be false and dangerous

Software news

┏ Google's latest Pixel features include a 'safety check' for when you're walking alone. Chris Welch has the details on Google's latest "feature drop" for the Pixel. This safety check feature is such a good idea, I would love to see it on all phones.

When you enable the feature, you set a time for when you want it to check in. When that time comes, safety check takes over your whole screen and asks for your status. You can dismiss the prompt and say you're okay, start sharing your location with emergency contacts immediately, or dial 911. If there's no response within a minute, safety check will automatically notify your emergency contacts and provide your location on Google Maps. There's no option for it to automatically call 911 — likely to prevent false positives.

┏ Microsoft is blocking the Windows 10 May 2020 Update on lots of devices. These compatibility issues are becoming a really regular occurrence. I would like to suggest Microsoft figure them all out before releasing an update, but the truth is that's a really high bar (though you'd think Microsoft could at least figure Surfaces out!). At the very least it needs to do a better job setting expectations — let people know when to expect the updates. Or, you know, rename them so they aren't identified by a date. It just sets us up for annoyance.

┏ Pax launches web app after getting booted from the Apple App Store. This is one of those times where I'm tempted to make a "the web will always win" joke, but it won't. Web apps on phones aren't given the access they need to do what this app needs to. Though I am sympathetic to the arguments for those limitations, it does straight up restrict perfectly legal activity because Apple doesn't like being associated with it.


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Product news

┏ Gogoro's Eeyo 1 is the 'sports car' of e-bikes. You'd think a sports car would go faster, but whatever. The specialized hub seems interesting and I'd love to see it made more widely available. The open frame design is also hella cool. Overall, though, this bike looks cool but it isn't for me, I prefer a little more utility and a lot less ...cost.

┏ HP's high-resolution Reverb G2 is a $599 headset for VR gaming.

┏ Vivo announces X50 flagship series with gimbal-style camera. I will be interested in seeing firsthand impressions, but this approach seems like it's doing the thing you usually don't want smartphones to do: put the technology in your face to figure out yourself instead of abstracting it away.

The highest-end model is the X50 Pro+, which uses Samsung's new 50-megapixel 1/1.3-inch ISOCELL GN1 sensor for the primary camera. The gimbal system makes use of an on-screen "radar" that depicts the lens' movement and indicates when a shot will be stable.

┏ Beats confirms four new colors of Powerbeats Pro will launch on June 9th. Okay I love the yellow ones.

┏ Sony confirms PS5 will have exclusive games playable only on next-gen hardware. Thinking through Sony and Microsoft's differing strategies for this generation is endlessly fascinating. Well, it'll end eventually: when the consoles are out and we see where the games are better.

You are reading Processor, a newsletter about computers by Dieter Bohn. Dieter writes about consumer tech, software, and the most important news of the day from The Verge. This newsletter delivers about four times a week, at least a couple of which include longer essays.

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