This week, one could play Super Mario Run on iOS in a self-driving Uber if you lived in San Francisco. You could have also broadcast it live on Instagram or Snapchat to a group for the first time. These are the top stories in tech from this week, all in one place. You can also get this post as a newsletter in your inbox, because even in 2016, email won’t die.
1. President-elect Donald Trump met with some of the most prominent execs from the tech industry this week, including Eric Schmidt and Larry Page of Google, Tim Cook of Apple, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. Oracle CEO Safra Catz joined Trump’s transition team, and the Strategic and Policy Forum picked up Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Tesla’s Elon Musk as board members. While it appears advantageous for Uber to strategically sign on to ensure a smooth IPO process, Musk’s motivations remain unclear.
2. Yahoo suffered yet another massive hack. The company was alerted by law enforcement to the breach of 1 billion accounts and has examined the data with the help of outside forensic experts. It appears to be entirely separate from the other breach we learned about in September. Verizon must be feeling just stellar.
3. Uber’s self-driving cars started picking up passengers in San Francisco, and were promptly ordered to stop. Uber began the launch with Volvo XC90 SUVs outfitted with sensors and supercomputers in an expansion of the self-driving pilot project in Pittsburgh. Uber didn’t have a necessary state permit needed to test autonomous vehicles on public roads, but launched anyway and is now refusing to stop operating these vehicles.
4. Google announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit as a separate company called Waymo. It will operate under Alphabet and will be more focused on self-driving tech rather than the cars themselves.
5. Facebook made a move to combat its fake news issue. The network will now flag and down-rank fake news with help from outside fact checkers at Snopes, FactCheck.org, Politifact, ABC News and AP. Baby steps?
6. Move over, Pokémon GO. The hot new Super Mario Run game became available on the App Store for iOS and iPad. It brings back all the Mario nostalgia one could hope for, and costs $10. It also crushed Pokémon GO’s record for Day One game downloads, surpassing 5 million.
7. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, John Doerr and 16 other high-profile investors formed a new venture firm called Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which will pour at least $1 billion into cleantech companies over the next 20 years. They’re saying that they’re investing in tech ventures at any stage, from seed through commercialization and will focus on electricity, manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and transportation.
8. Apple’s AirPod wireless headphones went up for sale for $159 on Apple’s site, and they’re charging $69 to replace a lost ‘Pod. Find my AirPods feature, anyone?
9. Instagram is on a roll. The app became the latest social platform to introduce live streaming as it released its live video broadcast feature to all U.S. users. The app also passed 600 million downloads, a huge milestone fueled by its algorithmic feed. Instagram is one to watch, people.
10. Snapchat quietly shipped its new Groups feature that lets you swap photos, video and messages with up to 16 people. Groundbreaking? No, but when an app has more than 100 million daily users, a feature like this could impact the way other messaging services like Messenger, WhatsApp or iMessage are used.
11. A shakeup at Oculus occurred as Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO to lead a PC-based VR division within the company.