AI-generated chart toppers, Apple gets into savings, and Microsoft drops Twitter
Hello, friends, and welcome to the latest edition of Week in Review (WiR), the weekly newsletter where we recap the past several days (or so) in tech news. We’d argue that there’s no better way to get your news fix, but we’d be biased. Still! Trust us when we say it’s a labor of love.
Before we get to this week’s happenings, don’t forget that Disrupt, TechCrunch’s annual flagship conference, is on the horizon. This year’s Disrupt will host six — that’s right, six — stand-alone industry TC Sessions events, with stages featuring industry-specific programming tracks. It’ll be well worth the trek to San Francisco.
Ahead of that is our next TechCrunch Live session with SignalFire and ClassDojo. They’ll be discussing ClassDojo’s mission to revolutionize education by building a classroom community.
Now, without further ado!
Fake Drake: A song featuring the voices of Drake and The Weeknd called “Heart on My Sleeve” has amassed more than 250,000 Spotify streams and 10 million views on TikTok. But the two musicians had nothing to do with the song — an artist going by the name “Ghostwriter” generated the song using AI. Amanda has the story.
Apple gets into savings: As of this week, Apple Card customers in the U.S. can open a savings account with Apple and earn up to 4.15% interest. Apple has partnered with Goldman Sachs for the banking feature; the savings accounts are technically managed by Goldman Sachs, which means that they’re covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Romain reports.
Apple considers opening up: Apple has kept the iPhone app distribution system relatively closed so far, allowing users to download apps only from the App Store. But the company might add some gates to its walled garden soon. Ivan reports that Apple is considering letting people sideload apps on iPhones and that we might see some announcement related to that at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference in June.
A massive Apple Watch update: The Apple Watch’s software is due to get the biggest update since its release. Sarah, citing a Bloomberg report, writes that the updated watchOS 10 will “bring bigger enhancements” than the releases planned for iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV, including an “updated interface” that will tell you “most of what you need to know about the Apple Watch in 2023.”
Love Is Blind, but sometimes canceled: Netflix had some serious issues with the livestream of its “Love Is Blind” reunion episode, Amanda writes. After a 75-minute delay, the streaming service pulled the plug on the live show due to seemingly unresolvable technical problems.
Microsoft drops Twitter: Microsoft announced this week that it’s dropping Twitter from its advertising platform nearly two months after Twitter announced that it’ll begin charging a minimum of $42,000 per month to users of its API. With its $2.15 trillion market cap and roughly $100 billion cash on hand at the end of last year, Microsoft obviously has the money to pay Twitter what it wants, so the move appears to be a bit of a statement — even as Microsoft is declining to elaborate further about its decision.
Meta lays off more workers: Meta issued another round of mass layoffs this week, Rebecca reports. They’re part of the 10,000 layoffs that CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in March, many of which relate to “low priority projects.” The mass job cuts are part of a broader restructuring at Meta that Zuckerberg has dubbed the “year of efficiency,” which began with 11,000 layoffs announced in November.
Check-in kiosks no more: Alaska Airlines recently started a three-year, $2.5 billion project to improve the airport experience at its hubs and focus cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As a part of the project, the airline is looking to modernize the lobby experience — and as the company announced today, the most visible change here will be the removal of the good old check-in kiosk, Frederic writes.
Snapchat’s AI comes to all: Snapchat’s AI chatbot is opening up to a global audience, the company announced at its Snap Partner Summit this week. Initially launched in February, the feature originally allowed Snapchat’s paid subscribers to chat with an AI chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT technology directly in its app. Now it’ll be available for free and upgraded with such functionality as the ability to add the chatbot to group chats, get recommendations for places on Snap Map and Lenses, and share Snaps with the chatbot to receive chat replies. Sarah has more.
Tesla cuts prices: Tesla has cut the price of its Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles for the second time this month. Tesla’s most popular models will now start under $40,000 before incentives.
Looking for podcast material to pass the time? TechCrunch has you covered, as always. This week, the Equity crew recorded at Early Stage, TechCrunch’s event for founders, and covered topics ranging from rockets to earnings and how a certain company is cutting costs. Over at Found, Trevor Martin, the co-founder of Mammoth Biosciences, came on to discuss how the company is using CRISPR systems to detect and cure genetic diseases. Chain Reaction interviewed Jesse Pollak, the lead for Base and head of protocols at Coinbase. And on the latest TechCrunch Live episode, Mark Batsiyan, a co-founder and partner at Inspired Capital, and Brynne McNulty Rojas, who’s the co-founder and CEO of Habi — the hot real estate startup out of Colombia that reached unicorn status last year — talked about their respective experiences in tech.
TC subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
Photonics and AI: The growing compute power necessary to train sophisticated AI models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT might eventually run up against a wall with mainstream chip technologies. Are light-based chips, otherwise known as photonics chips, the answer? Maybe, but it’s not clear yet.
There’s always money in the coffee stand: Blank Street claims to have cracked the code on how to make a chain of more than 65 physical coffee shops have the right metrics to attract venture capitalists. They recently closed on a $20 million Series B round in a year where fundraising has taken a nosedive — even for companies with low overhead costs. Rebecca has the story.
Should you launch an AI startup?: It seems like it’s the best of times for founders thinking about launching an AI startup, especially with OpenAI releasing ChatGPT to the masses. But it could be the opposite, depending on which investors you ask. Ron tries to get to the bottom of it.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.