Weekend Roundup: Fines, Phones, Feds, Faces, the Future, and ‘a Fourth’

Great news: it’s your weekend. It was actually a busy week for tech, so get ready for some iPhone chatter, augmented reality, and more on how the government is poking at the tech industry like a downed beehive. Careful, kids!

Let’s get started!

Microsoft’s Down Payment on Azure’s Future

Microsoft made a $1 billion investment in OpenAI, which sounds a lot like handing a friend $10 and them giving you two fives. The deal will see Microsoft invest that cash over the next decade or so, according to The New York Times, which will also see OpenAI go all-in on Azure.

Marty Puranik, founder, president and CEO of global cloud hosting solutions provider Atlantic.Net, tells Dice: “By investing now, Microsoft is betting on optionality of this taking off and cementing Microsoft’s Cloud (Azure) as the de-facto standard. It’s interesting because Microsoft is trying to get its fingers in all the pies that will need cloud tech as they take off.” So, $1 billion worth of spaghetti against a wall, maybe? Cool.

A Phone You Don’t Want, and One You’ll Want But Likely Pass On

The Galaxy Fold is coming back in September, Samsung has confirmed. It claims to have rectified all issues, and that the phone will work longer than 14 minutes before glitching out. It’s a $2, 000 bet on an uncertain future of mobile devices we can’t endorse. Next!

Oh, hey, the iPhone 11 is looking quite real – and you may really hate it. It’s basically the same form-factor as the iPhone XS and XS Max, but it has a larger camera bump because… wait for it… three cameras. The third camera is apparently for taking wide-angle shots, which could help you re-position your image on an axis. We think it’ll just be really handy for augmented reality, Apple’s next big thing.

Apple may have its own 5G modem in the iPhone 11, as the company confirmed rumors it has purchased Intel’s modem business. Apple is alsolobbying for a “very low-power” Wi-Fi band. This 6GHz band is being positioned as good for in-vehicle entertainment and tethering, high-speed tethering between two devices, video streaming and – wait for it – mobile augmented reality (you know, like a headset).

Google Gives $5 for Faces

Google employees in NYC were apparently walking around asking random people to have their face scanned by a box.

ZDNet first caught wind of this, and posits it’s for a FaceID-type biometric system on the Pixel 4, due this Fall. The more troubling aspect here is Google is literally placing a value on your biometric info… and it’s five dollars.

It gets worse: participants didn’t even get cash. Instead, they were given a $5 gift certificate to Amazon or Starbucks. That’s a latte nerve, Google. (You shut up, it’s the weekend and we get to make dad jokes!)

Feds Want to Know How the Email Machines Actually Work

Remember when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a senate hearing? A lot of that was old dudes trying really hard to grasp how tech works. Now, they want to know if their email machines are doin’ an antitrust.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Justice Department is looking into whether large tech firms such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple are engaging in antitrust practices in order to remain dominant in their respective spaces. It writes: “The review is designed to go above and beyond recent plans for scrutinizing the tech sector that were crafted by the department and the Federal Trade Commission.”

The FTC Needs a Fourth

T-Mobile and Sprint have been trying to merge for years with no success, mostly because the FCC wanted four major carriers in the United States. Now it seems they’ll actually pull the merger off, thanks to Dish.

Dish has been snapping up low-end spectrum for years, but nobody could figure out why. Hoarding spectrum is a bad play, because the FCC mandates you use it at some point. For Dish, that deadline is approaching. Luckily, it might soon become a mobile service provider. Weird how a decade of buying spectrum for unknown reasons suddenly works out in your favor, huh?

Dish is also buying Boost Mobile, and will have a seven-year wholesale agreement to operate as an MVNO on the new T-Mobile network. It also can’t sell any of its holdings for three years; this means it can’t start selling off its low-band spectrum to help spin up a fifth carrier, like Google.

There’s no announced roadmap,, but our bet is Dish will try to compete with AT&T, which offers mobile and streaming TV service as a package. Dish is now, suddenly, after a decade of buying spectrum, in a position to do just that.

Have a great weekend!