Google held its big I/O conference for app developers this week, announcing new low-cost phones and a rebranding of Google Home products, but the search giant didn’t dominate the week’s headlines.
Ride-hailing company Uber went public on Friday and got its share of chatter, while Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made a detailed pitch for flying astronauts to the moon by 2024.
Those stories were big, but the internet blew up this week talking about Facebook, and a co-founder’s thoughtful, heartfelt plea to U.S. regulators to break up the company Chris Hughes and Mark Zuckerberg founded in a Harvard dorm room.
Hughes penned the piece for the New York Times and then did the talk show circuit, appearing on several morning TV shows and NPR.
“Mark is a good, kind person,” wrote Hughes. “But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders.”
Facebook, in kind, responded to Hughes by saying the changes proposed weren’t necessary.
“Facebook accepts that with success comes accountability,” said the company in a statement. “But you don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company.”
Meanwhile, ICYMI, Google looked to address consumer burnout over super-expensive smartphones with a new Pixel for $399. It’s not waterproof and doesn’t offer wireless charging, but then it doesn’t cost $1,000 either. Our Ed Baig says the Pixel 3A phone is a better deal that the Pixel 3, which starts at $799.
Google also lent some confusion to its Alexa rival, the Google Home line.
Remember that Google Home Hub we loved when it was released last year? It’s now called the Nest Home Hub because, well, Google owns Nest, which makes several home automation products, and wanted to beef up the Nest name. A larger edition, selling for $230, the Nest Home Hub Max, will be released in the summer. It will also feature a video camera that follows users around the home, similar to Facebook’s Portal device.
Bret Kinsella, who pens the Voicebot,.ai blog, says we could expect Google to change the name of the Google Home speakers to Nest Home later this year.
This week’s Talking Tech podcasts:
While we were away visiting Spain and Portugal, we had several talented folks filling in for us, and some reruns as well.
—Veteran analyst Tim Bajarin offered us a preview of Apple’s upcoming WWDC developer conference.
—Shannon Rae Green and Dusty Terrill, the duo that hosts USA TODAY’s “I Tell My Husband The News,” podcast, weighed in on schools banning Uber Eats.
—From the vault: our #TalkingTech sitdown with singer Ariana Grande.
—Melissa Kirsch from “The Upgrade by Lifehacker” podcast filled for us with thoughts on how to get off the grid.
—From the vault: one of our all-time favorites, Talking Tech with comedian Lewis Black.
That’s a wrap for the Talking Tech newsletter. Please subscribe at http://technewsletter.usatoday.com, follow me (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and listen to the daily Talking Tech podcast wherever you listen to online audio.