Although it's April 1st, some unbelievable news stories are actually true. Here are a few recent developments that are worth noting – no jokes here, I promise!
Apple's Play Later feature
Apple has officially announced that its next WWDC event will take place on June 5th. This annual developer conference is a hotbed for tech enthusiasts, and often serves as the launchpad for some of Apple's most significant announcements of the year. While there's no guarantee on what Apple will reveal, the rumor mill suggests that we can expect to see updates to the company's mobile and desktop software. If previous WWDCs are anything to go by, we should anticipate exciting new features and functionalities that will take our Apple devices to the next level.
Apple occasionally announces new hardware devices at its annual developer conference, WWDC. One persistent rumor that has been circulating for years now involves Apple's upcoming mixed-reality headset. Leaked information suggests that Apple may unveil the augmented reality device at WWDC, but recent reports indicate that the timetable may be pushed back to at least the third quarter of this year. Technology analyst and Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted this delay, citing internal tensions within the company over the risk of investing in a very expensive headset that relies on technologies that are not yet proven.
According to recent reports, the mixed-reality headset will come with an external battery that can be worn elsewhere on the body, Siri integration, and a "reality" knob that will blend real-world surroundings into the goggles.
In other news, Apple has recently launched its buy now, pay later service called Apple Pay Later after months of anticipation. This service allows users to spread payments for their purchases into smaller installments over several months. It's part of a growing industry that includes services like Klarna and Affirm, and has been in development at Apple for over a year.
OverDrive's decline reaches a tipping point
OverDrive, a service that enables users to access e-books from public libraries on their personal devices, is shutting down. However, the service is not completely gone, as it is being consolidated into the Libby app, which is also owned by the same company. OverDrive users can seamlessly transition to the Libby app without any issues.
Fortunately, there are still several other ways to access free e-books from public libraries on your e-reader. Additionally, visiting a library in person can provide access to a wide range of other services.
Fitbit reaches the end of the race
Fitbit, now owned by Google, appears to be undergoing some significant changes as Google continues to streamline the company. One recent move involves the removal of several social features from the Fitbit platform, including the Open Groups feature that allows users to connect with each other and compare workouts. In addition, Google is doing away with some of the gamification features, such as challenges and trophies earned by users. The news was announced on the official Fitbit community forum by an admin account.
This is not the first time that Google has discontinued services or products. The company has a reputation for killing off various apps and devices. Google acquired Fitbit in 2021 and released its own smartwatch under the Pixel brand last year.
Amazon's Uninterrupted Presence
Amazon's Echo and Ring devices have become ubiquitous, found in homes and neighborhoods all across the US. While these devices connect to the internet to function, they also emit their own signals, offering a small portion of a home's network bandwidth to other nearby Amazon devices in need of a signal boost. This network is known as Amazon Sidewalk, and it has quickly grown to cover 90 percent of the US population, according to Amazon. With Sidewalk now open to developers, the network is set to expand even further. In this week's episode of Gadget Lab, we explore the topic of Amazon Sidewalk and how the company was able to quietly build a massive Wi-Fi network using its own products.