Technology

What's Up With Apple: Alleged Sexism, HomePod Is a Dud, and More

A senior engineering program manager at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been put on indefinite paid administrative leave following concerns she raised “about years of experiences with sexism, a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, and retaliation.”

Ashley Gjøvik told The Verge that the company originally offered her “EAP [Employee Assistance Program] therapy and medical leave,” an offer she refused, saying it “made no sense.” Apple’s employee relations group reportedly closed an earlier investigation after allegedly finding “nothing wrong.”

Apple did not respond immediately to a request from The Verge for comment.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) on Wednesday released a research report on smart speakers. The researchers estimate that Amazon’s Echo dominates the market with more than 50 million U.S. households owning at least one of the devices and about 20 million owning more than one. CIRP estimates that 23 million households own at least one Google’s Home smart speaker and 8 million own more than one. Only 2 million households own more than one Apple HomePod. CIRP partner and co-founder Mike Levin commented: “With multiple devices in a single home, a smart speaker platform can claim that literal real estate as theirs, as barriers to switching get very high.”

As of June, U.S. households have 126 million smart speakers, nearly one in each of the estimated 128.5 million households. Amazon dominates with a 69% share of the installed base (about 87 million units).

A computer security expert and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute claims that Apple is preparing to announce tools that can be used to identify child abuse images. According to a report from AppleInsider, Professor Matthew Green said the initial tool will client-side program (that is, it runs on a person’s iPhone), but that eventually it “leads to surveillance of data traffic sent and received from the phone.”

While the tool could be a “boon for finding child pornography in people’s phones,” Green commented, “imagine what it could do in the hands of an authoritarian government.”

Finally, on Wednesday, Apple began promoting exclusive offers for U.S. Apple Card users in a new section of its Wallet app. According to 9to5Mac, Apple already makes exclusive offers to Apple Card holders but these are typically from third parties; “[n]ow it seems the company is taking a more aggressive approach.”

The initial offer is three months free access to Apple News+, along with unlimited free coffee at Panera.