“Exploring Amazon Echo Frames, Marveling at MrBeast’s Daring Stunt, and the Revival of the Apple Watch Ban”

This edition of WiR spotlights Brian’s review of the new Amazon Echo Frames, MrBeast’s bizarre TV-like game show, the Apple Watch U.S. ban and the expected release date of the Apple Vision Pro. Most readNew Echo Frames: Brian test drove Amazon’s new and improved Echo Frames, which feature upgraded sound and a 14-hour battery. Apple Watch banned — then not: A recent U.S. ban on Apple Watch imports — centering on a pair of pulse oximetry sensor trademarks held by health tech company Masimo — nearly remained in place after the Biden administration declined to veto an earlier ruling by the International Trade Commission. But then, an appeals court instituted a pause, allowing Apple to resume sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 — at least temporarily. Hyperloop One crashes and burns: One of the longest-running hyperloop startups is reportedly shutting its doors.

Hey there, readers! Welcome to the weekly rundown of the latest and greatest in the tech world. This is Week in Review (WiR), the newsletter from TechCrunch that recaps all the happenings from the past week. While the period between Christmas and New Year’s is traditionally quiet, that wasn’t the case in 2023. Luckily, our team was there to cover it all.

This edition of WiR shines a spotlight on Brian’s review of the brand-new Amazon Echo Frames, MrBeast’s strange TV-style game show, the temporary ban on Apple Watch in the US, and the eagerly anticipated release date of Apple’s Vision Pro. We’ll also cover the reported shutdown of Hyperloop One, Xiaomi’s introduction of its first electric vehicle, The New York Times’ lawsuit against OpenAI, and the hacking of National Amusements, the parent company of CBS and Paramount.

So let’s dive into all the news, but first, a quick reminder to sign up here to receive WiR straight to your inbox every Saturday if you haven’t already.

Most read:

New Echo Frames: Brian tested out Amazon’s upgraded Echo Frames, which promise improved sound and a battery life of 14 hours. However, he found that the AR glasses fall short compared to Ray-Ban’s Metas, especially considering their $270 price tag (although they are currently on sale for $200).

MrBeast gets weird: Amanda takes a look at MrBeast’s strange new reality show, where two contestants agreed to live together in a brightly-lit, asylum-like room for 100 days in exchange for a grand prize of $185,000 each. She notes that this bizarre experience is emblematic of the trade-off that has become commonplace on social media: Endure discomfort for content, and you might be able to pay off your debts.

Apple Watch banned – and then unbanned: The US had recently placed a ban on the import of Apple Watches due to a trademark dispute with health tech company Masimo, but the Biden administration chose not to veto the ruling from the International Trade Commission. However, an appeals court stepped in and paused the ban, allowing Apple to continue selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 – at least for now.

Vision Pro, coming soon: In other Apple news, renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted a late January or early February release date for the Vision Pro, Apple’s highly anticipated heads-up display for augmented reality. Kuo claims that the first wave of Vision Pros will be shipped to Apple in about a month, with a total of 500,000 units expected to ship by the end of the year.

Hyperloop One’s downfall: One of the oldest companies working on developing hyperloop technology is reportedly closing its doors. Hyperloop One, which was once backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is set to cease operations on December 31, according to Sean. This is the latest setback in the tech industry’s efforts to bring Elon Musk’s idea to life since he first proposed it in a 2013 white paper. Hyperloop One had raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars since its formation in 2014.

Xiaomi’s entry into the car market: Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has launched its first electric vehicle – a sleek sedan called the SU7. It is scheduled to be released in China next year as the company joins the increasingly competitive market for electric vehicles. This move is also an effort to bring the same level of technology found in smartphones to the inside of cars.

NY Times sues OpenAI: The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its close collaborator and investor, Microsoft, for violating copyright law by training their AI models on the Times’ content. While the outcome of the lawsuit remains uncertain, it sheds light on the growing tensions between content creators and companies using their work for the development and commercialization of generative AI technology.

National Amusements falls victim to hacking: National Amusements, the parent company of Paramount and CBS, confirmed that it was the target of a data breach in December of the previous year, in which hackers obtained the personal information of tens of thousands of individuals. The company only recently revealed details of the attack, a year after it occurred, and has begun notifying those affected.

Audio:

Looking for something to listen to as you prepare for a fantastic New Year’s? As always, TechCrunch has got you covered.

The Equity team bid farewell to 2023 with their annual predictions episode. Filling up the roster with a variety of voices, the hosts discussed trends in startups, media, proptech, AI, and transportation and reviewed their predictions from the previous year.

On Found, Dom and Becca took a look back at 2023 in startups, highlighting their favorite conversations from the year. They also made some predictions for startup trends in 2024, including the rise of innovative climate tech companies, discussions on AI ethics and fundraising, and the importance of building strong relationships with founders.

And on Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn remixed a previous episode featuring an interview with Deana Burke and Natasha Hoskins, the co-founders of Boys Club. Boys Club is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) designed to introduce women and non-binary individuals to the world of Web3. This interview is a reminder that anyone interested in the industry is welcome to join.

TechCrunch+

TC+ subscribers have access to exclusive commentary, analysis, and surveys. In case you missed them, here are a few highlights from this week:

Predictions from investors: Rebecca surveyed more than 40 VCs to find out when they expect the next venture bubble to burst, which startups they think will go public first, and whether there will be more startup closures in 2024 than in the past few years.

Diversity commitments: Dom checked in on the VCs who made pledges to diversity, equity, and inclusion following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Who stuck to their commitments? Find out in this piece.

Investor survey roundup: Karan curated a list of relevant TC investor surveys from the past year. These surveys cover topics like alternative protein, the robotics revolution, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and the future of power.

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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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