Snapchat changes name to Snap, unveils first hardware: Spectacles video-sharing sunglasses
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel just dropped two bombshells—changing the company's name to Snap, Inc. and unveiling the company's first bit of hardware: Spectacles, video-sharing sunglasses, available this fall for $129.99 in black, tea, or coral. How do they work? When you press a button close to the hinge, the glasses record up to 10 seconds of video. The camera uses a 115-degree-angle lens, which is wider than most smartphone lenses and is closer to our eyes' natural field of view, explains the Wall Street Journal.
And why launch such a product [insert obligatory Google Glasses joke here]? Spiegel has a quick answer: "Because it's fun."
Spiegel waxes rhapsodic when telling the WSJ about testing a prototype of Spectacles while hiking with his supermodel fiancée, Miranda Kerr:
It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It's one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it's another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I'd ever come to feeling like I was there again.
Stories to read this weekend
• The New York Times's BlackRock story from last weekend has one of the best interview moments I've read in a long time. – Ainsley O'Connell, At BlackRock, Shaping The Shifts In Power
• So Is Writing A Job Or Not? (The Awl, recommended by Claire Dodson)
• How the FDA Manipulates the Media (Scientific American, recommended by Cale Weissman)
• Denis Johnson, who wrote the short classic Jesus's Son, wrote a ton of longform journalism in the 1990s, and this book collects it. Among the amazing pieces is one about traveling to Liberia for the New Yorker to interview the dictator Robert Johnson. But he never gets to meet Johnson, The New Yorker kills the piece, and he recounts the whole ordeal in Harper's. Is like "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" except Frank Sinatra is a mass murderer. There's also this beautiful essay about doing drugs for the first time in 30 years (Johnson's addict years were fodder for Jesus's Son), in which he describes mushrooms as "Bugs Bunny shooting you in the head with a rainbow." It's pretty wonderful. Highly recommended. — Cliff Kuang, Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond
[La Lecture au Cafe, by Alexandre-Auguste Hannotiau] MB
We asked top advertising execs what they thought of Hillary Clinton’s newest ad
Yesterday, the Hillary Clinton campaign launched a new commercial that edited together images of young girls looking in the mirror, with quotes and video of Donald Trump talking about women, then asking if Trump is the president we want for our daughters.
We decided to ask advertising executives what they thought of the commercial as a piece of marketing.
Keith Cartwright, executive creative director at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners: "It's not about policy it's about morality, which I think is her biggest play against Trump. To hit his character stretches her campaign beyond party lines allowing Hillary to speak to her base while attracting the undecided. This ad plays to that huge contingency of voters who struggle with whether or not Donald Trump has the moral fiber to represent our country as President. It may be her best ad to date. "
Margaret Johnson, chief creative officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners: "This is powerful because it's scary. As a mother, I never want my son to speak about women that way and I would never want my daughter to question the way she looks. For anyone who cares about kids, which is everyone, this ad should stop them from making a big mistake in November." JB
Palmer Luckey “sorry” for harming Oculus’ reputation, says he’s just funder of anti-Hillary meme org
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey this evening acknowledged he had given $10,000 to a group that creates pro-Donald Trump, anti-Hillary memes known as "shitposts," and apologized for "negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners."
He added that his perception of media stories about the situation "do not accurately represent my views."
If that's true, it must be noted that that's in part due to his and Facebook's silence on the matter, other than telling some news organizations that Luckey was still an Oculus employee, for a full day after The Daily Beast first broke the story. To be sure, Luckey himself did maintain in that Daily Beast article that he was only the "money man" for the organization, known as Nimble America."
But Luckey said in his Facebook post this evening that while he "thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards," he wasn't the group's founder. In fact, though the group, Nimble America, appears to be pro-Trump, Luckey said he plans on voting for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.
"I am committed to the principles of fair play and equal treatment. I did not write the 'NimbleRichMan' posts, nor did I delete the account. Reports that I am a founder or employee of Nimble America are false. I don't have any plans to donate beyond what I have already given to Nimble America.
"Still, my actions were my own and do not represent Oculus. I'm sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community." DT
And now straight from Media Twitter, here are the best Chris Ziegler-Apple tweets
Not that any context is needed, but in case you haven't heard, an editor at the Verge allegedly took a job at Apple without bothering to tell the Verge. Clearly we don't know the whole story here, but Twitter can always be counted on for weighing in, especially when the story involves media. Or tech. Or in this case both:
This will definetly be part of the next season of Silicon Valley. https://t.co/s2VQoyKY1c— Jason Diamond (@imjasondiamond) September 23, 2016
boss: "dude are you okay you havent been to work in three weeks"— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) September 23, 2016
employee: "new phone who dis"
this feels like an elaborate joke about how tech journalists are Apple stans https://t.co/mwsavG9grG— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) September 23, 2016
glad to see being a white dude in media means you can literally ghost on your job: https://t.co/6vkvSb8N5g— Ann-Marie Alcántara (@itstheannmarie) September 23, 2016
Dang the Verge's vacation policy must be clutchhttps://t.co/Wmd4DLNDsR— Katherine Krueger (@kath_krueger) September 23, 2016
I know Apple likes new hires to generally keep a low profile, but not even quitting your previous job is the ultimate in secrecy.— Martin Bryant (@MartinSFP) September 23, 2016
Most startling thing about Ziegler shenanigans is that Vox has an editorial director named Lockhart Steele: https://t.co/FJMR8tgEQ0— Trey Graham (@treygraham) September 23, 2016
One of the Verge’s top editors secretly worked at Apple for two months
Here's a doozy of a story: Chris Ziegler, a founding member and editor of the Verge, began working at Apple in July. One problem, however: He still worked at the tech-news website and didn't tell his colleagues.
According to a blog post written by the site's editor-in-chief, Nilay Patel, Ziegler accepted the role at Apple in July and continued working at the Verge. In August, Ziegler stopped being in contact with people at the site, which is what led them to discover his dual employment. His position at the Verge was terminated this month.
Patel writes that the site performed an independent review to snuff out any conflicts of interest. So far they've found nothing questionable editorially.
VR developers threaten Oculus boycott unless Palmer Luckey resigns
Things just keep getting worse for Oculus.
A day after revelations that founder Palmer Luckey has allegedly been funding a pro-Trump/anti-Hillary "shitposting" meme factory, a number of of virtual reality developers are expressing anger at, or saying they will boycott, the Facebook-owned Oculus unless Luckey resigns.
"Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech," Motherboard quoted the console games maker as saying. "While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis."
Others, too, have stood up to denounce Luckey's actions. Among them: NewtonVR, Polytron, Tower Underworld Online, and others, Motherboard noted. No doubt many developers will continue to support Oculus, however. Still, while Luckey is of course within his rights to support any cause he desires, it's worth questioning how much damage his positions will do to the company's fortunes given the furor they've caused in the last 24 hours.
Oculus representatives did not immediately respond to a Fast Company request for comment.
I'm dropping Oculus support from Tower Underworld Online V due to Palmer Luckey's politics. If you're not familiar with TUOV, ask me.— ✨Merisa✨ (@cambrian_era) September 23, 2016
FDA to mobile health community: “Help us be a partner”
Federal regulators are not particularly well liked by many in Silicon Valley. The FDA is often described as a "roadblock" or a "big bad wolf" in the press, and viewed as an enemy to the explosive growth of so-called innovative medical startups.
But FDA's Bakul Patel, the agency's associate center director for digital health, is no stranger to health conferences frequented by startup founders. At USC's Body Computing conference today, he provided some clarity in noting that the agency is most concerned with ensuring that the health data analyzed by companies is accurate (not just the step counts themselves).
He also shared that the agency is coming up with a "new paradigm" to accommodate mobile medical apps that make updates every few weeks.
Finally, he asked for startups to get involved with the agency as it adapts. "Help FDA be a partner in this journey," he urged. CF
Report: Trump aide met with Russian official who collects intel on U.S. election
One of Donald Trump's foreign policy advisers, Carter Page, has been communicating with senior Russian officials "including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president," sources tell Yahoo News's Michael Isikoff. Page, a former investment banker who currently leads Global Energy Capital, a consulting firm that focuses on oil and gas deals in Russia, reportedly met with Putin associates during several trips to Moscow. Among them was Igor Diveykin, Russia's deputy chief for internal policy who is responsible "for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election," a source tells Isikoff. MB
Wife of Keith Scott recorded video of deadly encounter with Charlotte police
"He doesn't have a gun," Rakeyia Scott says to Charlotte police in video footage she filmed before and after officers shot and killed her husband, who had been sitting in a parked car outside of their apartment complex. "He has a T.B.I."
The video, which Scott's family provided to The New York Times, shows Rakeyia Scott trying to defuse the tense scene, explaining to police that Scott had suffered a traumatic brain injury. "He is not going to do anything to you guys," she yells. "He just took his medicine." The footage does not show the actual shooting, doing little to quell the mounting pressure for Charlotte police to release their own footage of the incident.
"He better fucking live," Rakeyia Scott says after the gunfire.
The video is eerily similar to footage of the July police shooting of Philando Castile's death, which was streamed to Facebook Live by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. "Please don't tell me he's dead," Reynolds said, as an officer stood outside Castile's car window, gun still pointed. JJM
Samsung: About half of Galaxy Note 7 phones in the U.S. have been replaced
The Korean company sent a note to media today saying roughly half of the Galaxy Note 7 phones sold in the U.S. have now been exchanged through "Samsung's voluntary recall." Samsung began asking customers to return their Note 7s after 35 of them reportedly blew up due to a faulty battery.
The company adds that 90% of Note 7 owners have been opted to get another Note 7 phone, rather than some other Samsung device.
Samsung is said to have rushed its premium Note 7 to market because it felt the phone held an advantage over the iPhone 7. Samsung has not commented on that allegation. Samsung's "exchange program" began in early September. The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were announced September 7. MS
This exists: Eyeglasses that double as a step-tracker
I'm down in Los Angeles for the USC Body Computing conference, which showcases some of the latest advancements in digital health.
One particularly intriguing product incorporates a step-tracking sensor into a pair of glasses. The device, known as Level, also includes a cool feature called "Find Your Glasses," which I'm told is extremely popular. The idea behind the connected glasses is that it's easy enough to forget to wear a smartwatch, but those who need glasses won't leave the house without them. The downside is that it's not ideal for those who don't wear glasses, or wear glasses and contact lenses intermittently (myself included). The glasses are the brainchild of the innovation lab of VSP, a vision care health insurance company.
The company recently kicked off an academic study at USC to test whether this technology is helping users meet their activity goals. I'll keep you posted on how the study unfolds. CF