Apple has started production on Siri-based Echo competitor, reports say

Apple has reportedly started production of its Siri-based competitor to Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, plugging a hole in its device lineup that has become increasingly noticeable over the past two years. The new device will be similar to competitors’ offerings in form, offering a voice-controlled speaker that can sit in the kitchen or living room and verbally respond to basic commands and queries. According to Bloomberg News, one key differentiator will be audio quality: Apple is planning to ship the speaker with “virtual surround sound technology”, which uses one…

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Tesla fires female engineer who alleged sexual harassment

A female engineer at Tesla who accused the car manufacturer of ignoring her complaints of sexual harassment and paying her less than her male counterparts has been fired in what her lawyer alleges was an act of retaliation. AJ Vandermeyden, who went public with her discrimination lawsuit against Elon Musk’s car company in an interview with the Guardian in February, was dismissed from the company this week. Vandermeyden had claimed she was taunted and catcalled by male employees and that Tesla failed to address her complaints about the harassment, unequal…

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Snapchat brings its hip round Spectacles to Europe

Snapchat is bringing its Spectacles to Europe, placing five “snapbot” vending machines in London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Venice to begin selling the £129.99 wearable cameras. It is the first time the glasses have been available outside the US, where they led to hundreds of people queueing throughout the winter in a bid to secure the coveted gadgets. But for those who don’t fancy joining the queues – or can’t get down to the London Eye, where Britain’s vending machine will be placed – the glasses are also available at…

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‘Snapbots’ appear in European cities to herald arrival of Spectacles

It is shortly after 8am on the South Bank in London, but something has gone a little awry at the cutting edge of technology. In a plaza next to the London Eye, a handful of men in their 30s and 40s are standing around a bright yellow box the size of a vending machine, forlornly pressing its buttons to little effect. Before long a group of black-clad PR types have erected a yellow tent over the device, behind which an engineer busies himself. “Oh, there’s no issue,” says one cheerfully,…

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Airbnb hosts more likely to reject guests with disabilities, study finds

Airbnb hosts routinely reject guests with disabilities, sometimes when they have even advertised their homes as wheelchair accessible, according to a new study that adds to growing concerns about discrimination in the sharing economy. A Rutgers University study of nearly 4,000 requests for lodging on the home-sharing platform found that guests with blindness, cerebral palsy, dwarfism and spinal cord injury were refused at rates higher than people without disabilities. In some instances, hosts who claimed that their homes were accessible were also more likely to approve guests without disabilities, according…

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Jeff Bezos: the ‘obsessive’ Amazon founder and world’s next richest man

Just a few dollars more on the Amazon share price and the world will have a new richest man. Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, is on the brink of overtaking Bill Gates to become the wealthiest person on the planet. Bezos, 53, has been having a very good year. His net worth has risen by almost $20bn (£16bn) in the past five months to $85.2bn, putting him just behind Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, who is valued at $89.3bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Bezos’ fortune has soared thanks…

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