Apple finally supports RCS in iOS 18 update

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Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review, your go-to source for the biggest tech news stories of the week. This week, we witnessed a flurry of activity, from AI advancements and smartphone unlockability to the ever-evolving landscape of diversity and inclusion in tech. Buckle up, as we unpack the key developments:

Apple’s Messaging Breakthrough: RCS Support Finally Arrives

After years of anticipation and criticism for its lack of universal messaging capabilities, Apple finally added support for Rich Communication Services (RCS) to its Messages app within the second developer beta of iOS 18. This means iPhone users can now enjoy enhanced messaging features like high-quality image sharing, read receipts, and typing indicators even when messaging with Android users. However, the text bubble color remains a telltale sign of an iPhone user, which some see as a missed opportunity for a more seamless cross-platform experience.

OpenAI’s Voice Mode Stumbles, FCC Pushes for Unlocked Phones

OpenAI’s eagerly awaited Advanced Voice Mode for ChatGPT, which was initially slated for a late June alpha release, has been postponed to July. The company cited lingering issues that require further testing and safety checks. While the company is optimistic about a fall launch for all ChatGPT Plus users, this delay highlights the complex challenges of deploying advanced AI features responsibly.

On a separate front, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a significant change in the mobile phone landscape by suggesting a 60-day unlock window for all devices. This rule would enable consumers to switch mobile networks more freely after a short period, fostering greater competition and potentially disrupting the existing status quo within the smartphone industry.

The Week’s Top Tech Stories

Beyond these significant developments, the week saw a flurry of other notable tech news:

  • ChatGPT Comes to Mac: OpenAI launched a dedicated ChatGPT app for macOS, allowing users to access the powerful chatbot using the keyboard combination Option + Space. This move further extends ChatGPT’s reach and makes it more readily available for Mac users.

  • Apple’s Meta AI Integration Shelved: Apple reportedly abandoned its plan to integrate Meta’s AI models following reports of privacy concerns. This decision, which came after initial reports of collaboration, highlights the growing challenges and potential risks associated with integrating AI models across platforms.

  • Waymo Opens its San Francisco Robotaxi Service: Waymo announced that its autonomous vehicle service is now accessible to all users in San Francisco, removing the waiting list and making self-driving technology readily available to the public. This represents a significant milestone in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

  • Zuckerberg Decries "Closed" AI, OpenAI Acquires Multi: Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his firm belief in the importance of open-source AI and criticized competitors who are taking a "closed" approach to AI development. In a bold statement, Zuckerberg declared that these closed-source approaches are essentially "trying to create God." Meanwhile, OpenAI continued its aggressive acquisition strategy by purchasing Multi, a startup specializing in video-first collaboration.

  • Andrew Ng’s AI Fund Seeks Major Funding: Andrew Ng’s AI Fund, which supports AI ventures, is aiming to raise over $120 million for its second fund. The ambitious fundraising effort suggests a continued appetite for investment in the AI sector and the growing importance of AI solutions.

  • Gemini AI Enters Gmail, Docs, and More: Google is integrating its Gemini AI technology into various productivity tools, including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drive. The Gemini AI side panel will empower users to draft emails, find information within their inbox, and enhance their overall productivity.

  • Eerie Smiling Robot with Living Skin: Researchers from the University of Tokyo and Harvard are exploring the creation of robots with living, human skin. While their research has produced unsettling results, it raises profound questions about the future of artificial intelligence and the potential blurring of the lines between humans and machines.

  • Meta’s Llama 3 Chatbot Deployed in India: Meta is making its Llama 3-powered AI chatbot available to all users in India. However, the chatbot currently only supports English, highlighting the need for greater language diversity in AI technology.

  • Prosus Loses $2.1 Billion Stake in Byju’s: One of the largest investors in Indian edtech startup Byju’s has written off its entire investment, totaling $2.1 billion. Despite the significant loss, Prosus remains hopeful that Byju’s can still be salvaged.

Debates Over DEI and "MEI": The Tech Industry Grapples with Fairness

The week also saw continued scrutiny of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the tech industry. In a controversial move, Scale AI founder Alexandr Wang suggested shifting the focus from DEI to "MEI" – merit, excellence, and intelligence. However, this shift has been met with significant backlash, as critics argue that "meritocracy" is often a smoke screen for perpetuating existing biases and inequalities.

Fearless Fund’s Departure: A Reflection on VC’s Track Record

The resignation of Ayana Parsons, co-founder of Fearless Fund, throws a spotlight on the challenges facing Black women in the VC landscape. The announcement follows ongoing legal issues surrounding the fund and the larger trend of pushback against DEI initiatives within the tech sector. This latest development raises concerns about the lack of support and commitment to DEI within the VC world, especially for Black women.

Looking Ahead

As we move into the coming weeks, it will be interesting to observe how these trends unfold. Will Apple’s embrace of RCS finally usher in a more unified messaging experience? How will the FCC’s proposed unlock rule impact the smartphone market? And what will be the lasting impact of the ongoing debates surrounding DEI and "MEI?"

These questions and more will likely shape the landscape of tech, and we will be here to provide insightful analysis and critical perspectives on the developments that matter. Stay tuned for another edition of TechCrunch’s Week in Review.

Article Reference

Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson is a tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the industry. She has a knack for identifying the next big thing in startups and has reviewed countless internet products. Emily's deep insights and thorough analysis make her a trusted voice in the tech news arena.