Google employees discuss union; Apple's App Store breaks record sales; Discovery+ reviewed; and more

✊ 1 important thing: Google employees discuss why they formed union

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Google employees Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw write about the company’s ongoing discrimination and harassment issues. As two software engineers, Koul and Shaw were recently elected to serve as executive chair and vice chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, the newly formed union that now includes over 200 employees.

“For far too long, thousands of us at Google — and other subsidiaries of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — have had our workplace concerns dismissed by executives,” Koul and Shaw write in the Times.

Our bosses have collaborated with repressive governments around the world. They have developed artificial intelligence technology for use by the Department of Defense and profited from ads by a hate group. They have failed to make the changes necessary to meaningfully address our retention issues with people of color.

Google was founded on the principle that it would be a company to uphold positive values within the organization and around the world. But as Koul and Shaw write, those principles are no longer the core of the company’s ethics.

“When Google went public in 2004, it said it would be a company that “does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains,”” write Koul and Shaw. “Its motto used to be “Don’t be evil.””

🍎 Apple’s App Store sales soared over the Holidays

The 2020 holiday season saw record-breaking sales for Apple’s App Store. Users spent a combined $1.8B during the week of Christmas, according to TechCrunch.

“What Apple didn’t fully spell out was to what extent the pandemic played a role in increased app spending over the course of 2020,” notes TechCrunch. “It did again note that top apps during the year had included those that helped customers stay connected and be entertained, like Zoom and Disney+, as well as games that brought people together, like Roblox and Among Us.”

The App Store has a strong history with the holiday season, having set a previous record of $1.42B during the 2019 holiday week.

🎬 Review: Discovery+ includes an impressive collection and is one of my favorite new streaming services

I’ve long been a fan of David Attenborough’s documentaries, so after hearing Discovery+ would offer an archive of his nature programs as well as new episodes of Perfect Planet, I was excited to sign up for the new streaming service.

What I didn’t realize prior to signing up and downloading the app was the scale of available content on Discovery+. In addition to the BBC nature documentaries, Discovery+ includes content from the Food Network, HGTV, TLC, ID, Animal Planet, and Discovery, among other channels.

The first Discovery+ show I streamed was Bobby and Giada in Italy, featuring chefs Bobby Flay and Giana De Laurentiis. The first episode took place in Rome, where the two tasted pizzas, pastas, and other delicious looking cuisine. It was fun to watch and I found myself exploring the restaurant locations on Google Maps as I watched.

And last night, I watched an episode of Fear Thy Neighbors on ID. It was a harrowing view of how conflict between neighbors can lead to drastic and even deadly consequences.

Overall, Discovery+ is an impressive collection of archived shows and new episodes, as well as Discovery+ Originals. Along with the similarly named Disney+, Discovery+ is so far one of my favorite streaming services.

Next up in my queue is the first episode of Attenborough’s Perfect Planet, which I expect will be a perfect cap to my evening.

Need to know

  • 📱 iPhone 13 rumored to include LiDAR across all models. (9to5 Mac)

  • 🍎 Apple temporarily closes all stores in the UK due to COVID-19 surge. (The Verge)

  • 💬 WhatsApp now requires data-sharing with Facebook, according to updated Terms. (Input)

  • 🗂 2021 tech predictions from San Francisco. One prediction: WFH just becomes ‘work.’ (SF Chronicle)

  • 🕸 Net Neutrality may be saved following Georgia’s Senate run-off. (The Verge)