“Expanding Reach: Google’s Gemini Arrives In New Apps, Cruise Cuts Staff, and Tesla Initiates Recall”

In this edition of WiR, we cover Cruise slashing 24% of its driverless workforce (and, relatedly, Tesla’s autopilot recall), Twitch’s new nudity policy conundrum, Adobe’s updated app design language and Instagram launching a generative AI–powered background editor. Most readGemini comes to more apps: Google’s Gemini GenAI models — specifically Gemini Pro, a lightweight version of a more capable model, Gemini Ultra, set to arrive in the coming months — is making its way into more Google products. Duet AI, the company’s suite of dev assistance tools for code completion and generation, will soon start using Gemini. So will AI Studio (formerly MakerSuite), Google’s AI app design experience on the web, and Vertex AI, the tech giant’s managed AI dev platform for enterprises. Called Spectrum 2 (no surprise there), the new design system backs off a bit from the austerity of the current Spectrum design and adds quite a few more splashes of color.

Week in Review: Major Happenings in the Tech World

Hello, friends! Welcome to the latest edition of Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s newsletter covering all the tech-o-sphere news that’s fit to print. As the world’s largest AI conference, NeurIPS, kicked off in sunny New Orleans, we saw major updates from Google, big moves at Twitch, and exciting developments across the industry.

WiR: A Recap of Tech News This Week

  • Cruise slashes 24% of its driverless workforce
  • Twitch’s new nudity policy sparks controversy
  • Adobe unveils Spectrum 2 design system
  • Instagram launches AI-powered background editor
  • Meta’s Threads app expands to EU
  • FCC denies Starlink’s subsidy request
  • Apple changes policy around push notification data
  • Amazon competes with its own Goodreads service

Now, let’s dive into the details of each story.

Gemini Models Go Mainstream at Google

Google’s Gemini GenAI models, including the lightweight Gemini Pro and the more advanced Gemini Ultra, are being incorporated into more and more of the company’s products. Duet AI, a suite of developer tools, AI Studio for app design, and Vertex AI for enterprise development will all feature Gemini models in the near future.

Cruise Cuts Costs by Reducing Workforce

GM’s self-driving car division, Cruise, announced a 24% reduction in its workforce this week. This move was driven by the company’s desire to cut costs and revamp its operations in the wake of a recent incident involving a pedestrian and one of Cruise’s robotaxis.

Tesla Recalls Vehicles with Autopilot Software

Tesla will recall two million vehicles due to issues with its Autopilot driver-assistance feature. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating the company for several years, and deemed the way the feature checks for driver attention insufficient.

Twitch’s New Nudity Policy Causes Controversy

Twitch announced updates to its sexual content policy, briefly allowing previously prohibited content such as illustrated nipples and “erotic dances.” However, after backlash, the company quickly backtracked and reinstated the ban on nudity in all forms, real or fictional.

Adobe Unveils Spectrum 2 Design System

Adobe has launched an update to its design system, Spectrum, which has been used for the past decade. The new version adds more color and a less austere feel, and is already being used in various Adobe apps and web services.

Instagram’s New AI-Powered Background Editor

Instagram introduced its new background editing tool, powered by AI, to U.S. users this week. The tool allows for quick changes to the background of images, with pre-made prompts like “On a red carpet” or “Being chased by dinosaurs,” as well as the option to create custom backgrounds.

Meta’s Threads App Expands to EU

Rumors suggest that Meta’s Threads app will launch in the EU next month, potentially with a “view-only mode” to comply with data regulations. In the meantime, the company is working on implementing a fact-checking program and testing support for ActivityPub, an open social networking protocol.

FCC Denies Subsidy Request from Starlink

The FCC has denied Starlink’s application for $885 million in public funds to expand its orbital communications infrastructure in rural areas. The commission stated that the company failed to demonstrate its ability to deliver the promised service.

Apple Revises Policy Around Push Notification Data

Apple announced that it will no longer provide user push notification data to law enforcement without a valid judge’s order. Previously, police could obtain this data with a subpoena, but the company has changed its policy to require more oversight.

Amazon Takes on Goodreads with “Your Books” Service

Amazon has launched its own service, “Your Books,” to compete with its subsidiary, Goodreads. The service organizes all books purchased, borrowed, or saved on Amazon, focusing on leveraging data to make tailored book recommendations.

Stay Up-to-Date with TechCrunch

If you want to stay informed on all the latest tech news and developments, sign up for our newsletter, Week in Review, delivered straight to your inbox every Saturday. And if you’re interested in even more in-depth coverage, consider becoming a subscriber for access to exclusive commentary, analysis, and surveys.

Podcast Recommendations

If you need some listening material for the weekend, don’t worry – TechCrunch has you covered.

On Equity, the hosts sat down with Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, and Kishan Bagaria, founder of Texts.com, which Automattic recently acquired for $50 million. They discuss the acquisition and the current state of written content online.

On Found, James Wagoner, co-founder and CEO of Joule Case, talks about his journey starting the company after the first startup he and his co-founder launched failed during the 2008 financial crisis.

And on Chain Reaction, host Jacquelyn interviews Johann Kerbrat, the general manager of crypto at Robinhood, about the company’s plans to expand its cryptocurrency business and make digital assets more accessible to retail investors.

Final Thoughts

That’s all for this edition of Week in Review. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another round of exciting tech news.

Remember to sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already, and have a great weekend!

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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