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Daily Authority: 📉 Google's Area 120 cutbacks
🌤️ Hey there! We’re getting fleeting glimpses of spring this week, with the temperature reaching 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) yesterday. I say “fleeting,” because the temperature is set to drop to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) this weekend.
Google cancels plenty of Area 120 projects
Google’s Area 120 division has been around for years now, dating back to early 2016. The division was created so employees could work on side projects in a full-time capacity, but it seems like even this unit isn’t immune to budget cuts.
More like Area 60
- TechCrunch reported that Google has drastically cut back the number of projects in the division.
- More specifically, Area 120 has gone from hosting 14 projects to just seven.
- Affected employees were apparently told they’d need to find other jobs at Google by the end of January 2023 or face termination.
- Google confirmed the change to the outlet, adding that Area 120 will now focus on AI-based projects.
- Canceled projects reportedly include an accounting project for Google Sheets, analytics for AR/VR, and three climate-related projects.
The right move for Google?
- I can’t help but feel like this is a boring move, for lack of a better term.
- Sure, AI is a broad field and it impacts plenty of areas, so there are plenty of possibilities here.
- But Area 120 was founded as a way to focus on so-called 20% projects (“100% of the time”).
- Google originally allowed employees to spend 20% of their time on side projects, spawning Gmail, Google News, and more.
- 20% time was reportedly killed off in 2013, so Area 120 seems like the last vestiges of this concept at Google.
- Area 120 hasn’t seen the same level of hits, but we have seen successful endeavors like Orion Wi-Fi (now a Google Fi feature), Tables (now part of Google Cloud), and Byteboard (now a standalone company).
- So it’s hard to shake the feeling that Google might be missing out on the next Gmail or AdSense if it’s focused solely on AI.
- It’s also interesting to see the company cancel these research projects due to budget concerns, as tech firms like to boast about their R&D expenditure.
- After all, R&D is a foundation for the future of any tech company.
- Of course, this is just part of a larger swathe of budget cuts at Google and across the tech industry at large. Even the next Pixelbook and Pixelbook team were affected by this — although there are plenty of other quality Chromebooks out there.
⚖️ Google loses the first round in its fight to overturn record-breaking EU fine: A judge did, however, slightly reduce the fine from €4.3 billion to €4.1 billion (Android Authority).
🎨 Wallpaper Wednesday: More great wallpapers by our readers and staff (Android Authority).
📸 Google Photos gets a collage editor and a ton of other features: Plenty of changes to the Memories feature too (Android Authority).
💻 Five years of data shows that SSDs are more reliable than HDDs over the long haul: An interesting study by cloud storage company Backblaze using its own SSDs and HDDs. (Ars Technica).
🛰️ The UN wants to curb anti-satellite missile tests: This comes almost a year after a Russian test that created a debris field, threatening the International Space Station (Wired).
📱 Wild leak suggests small Pixel flagship phone is in the works: A veteran leaker in China has made the claim, but we’re still skeptical (Android Authority).
🔒 TikTok won’t commit to stopping US data flows to China: Its COO declined to make this pledge when testifying in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee (CNN).
💳 Say hello to crazy thin ‘deep insert’ ATM skimmers: These super-thin ATM skimmers are paired with pinhole cameras hidden behind false panels on the ATM itself (Krebs on Security).
🚗 Tesla is sued by drivers over alleged false Autopilot, full self-driving claims: The company is accused of deceptively advertising full self-driving tech as fully working or on the horizon since 2016. It reminds me of that compilation of Musk promising self-driving cars “next year” since 2014 (Reuters).
🔋 Poll: Did your current phone come with a charger? (Android Authority).
🤔 What discontinued thing do you really want brought back?: I do love the answer “everything not being a subscription.” I miss the days of paying once for most apps or services (r/AskReddit).
We all know that fossils are a thing, but fossilized footprints and fossilized poop (called coprolites) are a thing too. However, researchers have now discovered 150 million-year-old fossilized vomit.
Researchers recently published a study on the vomit in the Palaios journal (h/t: CNET with image via Brian Engh), revealing that it contained frog bones and salamander bits. Scientists did some further investigation and found that it didn’t actually belong to a dinosaur but likely came from an ancient bowfin fish. Still beats dealing with fresh vomit, I guess.
Have a great day!
Hadlee Simons, Editor