Published on October 13 2017

Amazon will hire 120,000 temporary workers this holiday season

'Tis the season for temporary employment.

Amazon will be hiring more than 120,000 seasonal workers in the US this year, the company said Thursday. The jobs will span 27 states and cover customer service sites, sortation centers and fulfillment centers. That's about 20,000 more positions than last year.

The e-commerce giant kept many of its seasonal workers from 2015.

"Last year alone, more than 14,000 seasonal employees stayed on in regular, full-time positions after the holidays and we expect to increase that number this year," said Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment, Mike Roth, in a statement.

If working in a fulfillment center isn't quite your style, maybe by next year you'll land a job at an Amazon convenience store.

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Published on October 13 2017

Google will invest $1 billion over the next five years in nonprofit organizations helping people adjust to the changing nature of work, the largest philanthropic pledge to date from the Internet giant.

The announcement of the national digital skills initiative, made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in Pittsburgh, Pa. Thursday, is a tacit acknowledgment from one of the world's most valuable companies that it bears some responsibility for rapid advances in technology that are radically reshaping industries and eliminating jobs in the U.S. and around the world.

Pichai's pitstop in an old industrial hub that has reinvented itself as a technology and robotics center is the first on a "Grow with Google Tour." The tour that will crisscross the country will work with libraries and community organizations to provide career advice and training. It heads next to Indianapolis in November. 

"The nature of work is fundamentally changing. And that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity," Pichai said in prepared remarks at Google's offices in Pittsburgh. "One-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren't common today. It's a big problem."

Google will make grants in its three core areas: education, economic opportunity and inclusion. Already in the last few months, it has handed out $100 million of the $1 billion to nonprofits, according to Pichai.

The largest single grant — $10 million, the largest Google's ever made — is going to Goodwill, which is creating the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. Over the next three years Goodwill, a major player in workforce development, aims to provide 1 million people with access to digital skills and career opportunities. Pichai says 1,000 Google employees will be available for career coaching. 

In all, Google employees will donate 1 million volunteer hours to assist organizations like Goodwill trying to close the gap between the education and skills of the American workforce and the new demands of the 21st century workplace, Pichai said.

Google to give $1 billion to nonprofits and help Americans get jobs in the new economy

The announcements, which drew praise from state and local politicians including Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, come as Google scrambles to respond to revelations that accounts linked to the Russian government used its advertising system to interfere with the presidential election.

Google is embroiled in a growing number of other controversies, from a Labor Department investigation and a lawsuit by former employees alleging systemic pay discrimination, to the proliferation of misinformation in search results and extremist content on YouTube. As the controversies have multiplied, so too have calls for Washington to regulate Google because of its massive scale and global reach.

"This isn’t the first time we’ve seen massive, market-creating and labor market-disrupting companies try to address growing public pressure and possible regulatory limits in this way. But it often has been individual corporate titans who’ve gotten into philanthropy — Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller — as a way to rehabilitate their own images, tarnished by anxiety about the size of their companies and treatment of workers," said Margaret O'Mara, a history professor at the University of Washington.

"What’s interesting here is what this signals about how Google’s future business ambitions. It is betting that its next era will be one not of search and apps but of devices and labor market interventions."

Google's not alone fending off critics. A recent headline in tech news outlet TechCrunch read: "Dear Silicon Valley: America’s fallen out of love with you."

The tech industry, once a shiny symbol of American innovation and pride, has found itself on the defensive after the election of Donald Trump, which telegraphed the deepening disillusionment of everyday Americans who have watched the gains of the economic recovery pass them by.

While whole communities in the nation's heartland have fallen into economic decline, the tech industry, clustered in vibrant coastal hubs like San Francisco and New York, has grown wealthy off new developments that are disrupting how Americans live and work. 

The pace of that innovation is quickening. For years tech companies could not deliver on promises of hyper-intelligent machines capable of performing human tasks. Now the technology is catching up to the aspirations.

In recent years, Google and other companies have made long strides, from self-driving cars that whisk you to your destination to digital assistants who answer your questions. This new wave of automation that aids consumers in their everyday lives has a dark side: It's killing off traditional jobs and stranding workers, still struggling after the recession, who are unprepared for the shift.

Google, says O'Mara, will have "undeniably disruptive impacts on the jobs people do and the skills they need for them."

In the 1960s when computer-aided automation worried the nation, presidential and congressional commissions and government agencies tackled the challenge. 

"Now it’s the private sector. And even though $1 billion sounds like a lot, it is a small number compared to government education programs or, for that matter, the balance sheets of large tech companies," O'Mara said.

When Pichai came to the United States from his native India 24 years ago, it was the first time he had been on a plane. Pittsburgh was the first city he saw. Though Pittsburgh was moored to its early 20th century roots as a steel town, Carnegie Mellon University was already propelling the city into the future.

"As a new arrival, I was homesick but struck by something new: the sense of optimism," he said. "I remain a technology optimist."

Pichai envisions that transformation for Pittsburg as a blueprint for the country to make the transition to a new industrial era. On Thursday, Pichai detailed other programs Google is undertaking.

- Grow with Google is a free online program to help Americans secure the skills they need to get a job or grow their business. Job seekers, business owners and teachers can learn the basics of working with tech, from spreadsheets to email, get training and certificates through Google says it has rolled it out to 27,000 middle and high school students and now plans to expand it to community colleges and vocational programs.

- In January, Google will launch an IT certificate program developed with online education provider Coursera that includes hands-on labs to prepare people for jobs in eight to 12 months and then connects graduates with potential employers. Google will sponsor 2,600 full scholarships through nonprofit organizations. 

- Working with Udacity, Google is creating the Google Developer Scholarship Challenge. The top 10% of applicants who enroll in Google developer courses will receive scholarships.

- Google will give away 20,000 vouchers to get G​ ​Suite​ ​certification​.

"We don’t have all the answers. The people closest to the problem are usually the people closest to the solution," Pichai said. "We want to help them reach it sooner."

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Published on October 13 2017

General Motors plans to scale back production and temporarily shutter an assembly plant in Detroit through the end of the year amid a slump in car demand across the industry.

The automaker will idle its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for six weeks beginning in mid-November, according to a source familiar with the plans. The downtime will begin the week of Nov. 13, which had been previously scheduled. It will be followed by five additional weeks that will idle the plant through the holiday shutdown at the end of December.

The move, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will mean layoffs for roughly 1,500 workers who build the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Volt -- all sedans with relatively high inventories.

GM, in an emailed statement, confirmed it “will be making schedule adjustments to keep supply and demand in balance,” including the plant operating under a reduced production schedule effective Oct. 20.

"This action will help maintain more stable production," the company said.

Those plans, a source confirmed, include reducing plant output by about 20 percent and reducing the plant’s 1,800 hourly workforce by less than 200 people.

While U.S. sales of the Cadillac CT6 are up 51 percent to 8,128 this year through September, the flagship luxury sedan is a low-volume seller. U.S. sales of the Buick LaCrosse are off 21 percent this year while demand is down 32 percent for the Impala and 6 percent for the Volt.

Across the industry, U.S. car demand has dropped 11 percent through September and is on track to decline for the fourth consecutive year.

In the first nine months of this year, the Detroit-Hamtramck plant produced 75,361 vehicles, a 43 percent decrease from the 132,086 it built in the same period in 2016, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

A local union representative was not immediately available to comment on the plans.

GM eliminated a second shift at the plant earlier this year as consumer preferences shift away from sedans and coupes to pickups, crossovers and SUVs.

As of Oct. 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center, inventories of the cars produced at Detroit-Hamtramck were collectively well above the 70-day supply that the industry considers healthy:

• Buick LaCrosse: 284 days, down from 286 on Sept. 1

• Cadillac CT6: 106 days, down from 145 on Sept. 1

• Chevrolet Impala: 67 days, up from 49 on Sept. 1

• Chevrolet Volt: 107 days, up from 97 on Sept. 1

Both GM and rival Ford Motor Co. have worked for most of this year to rein in high inventories of passenger cars as consumers have shifted to buying pickups, crossovers and SUVs. Overall, GM had a 76-day supply of vehicles as of Oct. 1 (down from 87 on Sept. 1) and Ford had a 72-day supply (down from 81 on Sept. 1).

Production cuts slice into revenue, but could also help automakers avoid deeper price cuts on vehicles they can sell.

"This is consistent with our view that domestic (manufacturers) continue to face steep competition in the passenger car segment and production must be aligned with waning sales in order to reduce the elevated amounts of inventory," Buckingham Research Group analyst Joseph Amaturo wrote in a client note about the Hamtramck news.

Earlier this year, GM eliminated the plant's second shift, saying it was laying off around 1,200 workers.

GM has reduced the number of shifts at five of its plants and several other facilities. The automaker announced last month that it would cut the third shift at its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, as of late November.

A GM spokesman said there are no plans to reinstate any of those shifts at this time.

Article Source: GM to idle Detroit-Hamtramck car plant for 6 weeks, cut output

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Published on September 27 2017

iPhone 8 Plus vs. iPhone 7 Plus speed test: No one saw this coming

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are both available in stores right now, meaning that you can already buy Apple’s fastest iPhone ever. The A11 Bionic chip powering both phones is Apple’s best chip yet, scoring as high as a 2017 MacBook Pro in benchmark tests. It crushes Android devices in real-life performance tests, as a comparison with the Galaxy Note 8 showed a few days ago. But how does it perform against the previous Apple flagship phone?

YouTube channel EverythingApplePro put both phones through its usual speed test, and the results were surprising.

The test consists of having both phones open a set of apps twice. In the first lap, the same apps are opened for the first time on both devices. Then, on the second lap, the apps that were just opened are brought up again from memory. The phone with the shortest time wins.

This isn’t a scientific speed test, but various YouTube channels have used it in previous years to test a phone’s speed in real-world conditions where you’d open plenty of apps and switch back and forth between them. The iPhone always offered a more consistent experience, outpacing the best Android phones available time and time again.

That’s why it’s a bit surprising to see the iPhone 7 Plus still come out ahead in this test. That’s a shocking result, which will probably be corrected in the future, as Apple and app developers further optimize the software experience for the new A11 Bionic chip.

The iPhone 8 Plus is still faster at booting up and it’ll open most apps faster than its predecessor. It also crushes the iPhone 7 Plus in benchmark tests, obviously. Check out the full video below:

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Published on September 23 2017

It's officially iPhone launch day, and MacRumors videographer Matt stopped by the Palo Alto Apple Store this morning to pick up some new products to test out. After running into Apple CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams, who were also hanging around the store, Matt walked away with a Space Gray iPhone 8 and a Gold iPhone 8 Plus. 

Matt went hands-on with both products to give MacRumors readers still on the fence about purchasing a chance to see them up close. 

Apple's Gold iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are using a new shade of the color that's almost a meld of last year's Gold and Rose Gold shades. It's a rosier color with more red in it than past iPhone models, and it looks great paired with the glass body. The Space Gray is a darker shade that's almost similar to the Matte Black of the iPhone 7, and it too looks great with that shiny glass finish. 

Because of the glass body, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus are heavier than past iPhones, but at the same time, easier to hold, both due to small thickness increases and the grip of the glass itself. 

With the new speaker enhancements, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are loud, and the True Tone display looks different, but it's not a major change over previous-generation devices. 

Apple's iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are available for purchase starting today online and in Apple retail stores around the world. The iPhone 8 starts at $699, while the iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799.

Article Source: Hands-On With Apple's New iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

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Published on September 23 2017

As he often does on product launch days, Apple CEO Tim Cook this morning stopped by the Apple Store in Palo Alto, California as customers gathered to purchase an iPhone 8, Apple Watch Series 3, or 4K Apple TV. 

Cook had a few minutes to speak with CNBC, and he said that he's "thrilled" with what he's seeing on launch day. Some stores have sold out of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus he says, and many locations are out of the LTE Apple Watch Series 3 models.

Apple CEO Tim Cook 'Thrilled' With Launch Day Response to iPhone 8
"Here's what we're seeing right now. The watch with LTE -- the Series 3 Watch -- we are sold out in so many places around the world. And we're working really hard to meet demand. We've sold out of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in some stores, but we've got good supply there. You can see what's going on here this morning -- I couldn't be happier."

Cook spent time mingling with friends and joining in on the staff tradition of cheering and waving to customers purchasing a new iPhone. "We really like what we're seeing," Cook said. 

Cook also commented on the LTE issues plaguing the new Apple Watch, which have caused some major publications not to recommend the device for purchase.

"The issue is very minor, it will be fixed in a software update," Cook told CNBC. "It has to do with the handoff between Wi-Fi and cellular, and we'll fix that. It only happens in a rare number of cases. I've been using it for quite a while and it works great. So we're very happy about it."

The bug surfaced when reviewers got their hands on the Apple Watch Series 3 and noticed that it often wouldn't connect to LTE. It turns out, the watch is mistakenly joining unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks with interstitial agreement pages that can't be bypassed. Apple has said the bug will be fixed in an update, but has not given a timeline for the fix. 

Despite Cook's positivity, some reports from around the world have suggested demand for the iPhone 8 is low. Reuters reported a "bleak turnout" in Australia and later said there was a "muted launch" in Asia. 

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are in stock and available for launch day purchase in many stores around the world.

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Published on September 23 2017

IKEA today has launched a new "tribute campaign" to Apple and the inductive wireless charging features of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, playing off of popular Apple catchphrases like "This changes everything" and "Think different".

IKEA Launches New Apple-Inspired Ad Campaign for Qi Charging Furniture

The campaign is called "This Charges Everything," and includes multiple other references to Apple's advertising campaigns of years past, as well as a few jokes aimed at the internet's wish for AirPower to be called "Apple Juice." 

IKEA Launches New Apple-Inspired Ad Campaign for Qi Charging Furniture

The new IKEA ads are aimed at the RIGGAD LED lamp with Qi wireless charging, which runs for $69.99, and the VARV Table lamp with Qi wireless charging, which runs for $79.99. Other Apple references include: "One more thing... it's also a lamp," "Link different," and a question asking Siri "what lamp should I buy?" 

IKEA has quite a few pieces of furniture and home accessories with Qi pads, including bedside tables, floor lamps, and individual charging pads (single and triple) that you can place anywhere. 

IKEA Launches New Apple-Inspired Ad Campaign for Qi Charging Furniture

IKEA teamed up with advertising agency ACNE to build the campaign for "This Charges Everything." According to Morten Kjær, Creative Director at IKEA Creative Hub, “IKEA has been very progressive with wireless charging, and we are thrilled that new iPhone owners finally can make use of one of the most powerful lamps we’ve ever made.” 

IKEA Launches New Apple-Inspired Ad Campaign for Qi Charging Furniture

The new campaign has been shared to time with today's launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are the first of Apple's iPhones to ever support wireless charging through the Qi standard. When it launches in November, the iPhone X will also support the feature and will be able to charge through IKEA's furniture. For a look at current and upcoming Qi-supported charging pads, check out our roundup here.

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Published on September 23 2017

Well, we had a good run.

After weeks of pre-orders and another full week of actual in-store sales, the Galaxy Note 8 is falling out of its honeymoon period and getting into the swing of things. That means that Samsung's "do bigger things" incentives for getting in on the Galaxy Note 8 are coming to a close — September 24 is the end of the line for the freebies.

Samsung's great Galaxy Note 8 order freebies end Sept 24, so act fast!

That means if you want to get a free Fast Wireless Charging Convertible charger bundled with a 128GB SD card, or a free Gear 360 camera, you'll need to order within the next couple of days. The nice thing is that Samsung makes it pretty darn easy to get these goodies if you order before the deadline. It doesn't matter if you're ordering through Best Buy, the carriers, Amazon or from Samsung's own site — you get the option to verify your purchase and have Samsung send you some free accessories.

Once you have your order in, it's pretty easy to register and get your gift. You just need to download the Shop Samsung app or visit the Samsung promo website and give Samsung some details so it can verify your purchase. Wait a bit, and you'll have the sweet free accessories.

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Published on September 23 2017

Samsung's Galaxy X 'Folding Phone' Gets Leaked

We've been hearing rumours for some time that Samsung will launch a Galaxy X folding smartphone at some point. The device has already been through some certification for its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth components. Now, according to LetsGoDigital, it seems like the whole thing is being inspected by the Korean National Radio Research Agency ahead of a launch, perhaps early next year.

The device has been using the model number SM-G888 as it's gone through the various regulatory steps needed to produce a compliant mobile device. The NRRA lists it as "radio equipment for LTE mobile communication" and when it was seen at the Wi-Fi Alliance it was described as a "Smartphone". While it's possible the Sm-G888 is another phone entirely, it doesn't fit with anything in the current ranges.

The idea of a foldable phone is nothing new. The image above was taken at CES in 2009 and showed off what Samsung then described as "The World's First Foldable AMOLED". The problem back then was that the technology was bulky and had a really poor resolution of just 480x272 and will have likely been incredibly expensive.

For Samsung to actually market a device it would need to be "normal" phone sized and survive the rigours of day-to-day life. But AMOLEDs have come on enormously since 2009 and Samsung has been playing around with bending displays since the Galaxy Note Edge and later the Galaxy S6 Edge. These phones and the ones that followed will have taught the firm a lot about unusual designs.

I suspect that if this device does arrive it will be very much like the Note Edge was, expensive and pretty rare. Samsung won't want to sell it in huge numbers, but it will likely be a mission to learn a bit more about how popular these devices are and how people use them.

But if we're honest, smartphones have been a little bit dull recently, so there is a need to innovate and produce new devices. It will be really interesting to see what Samsung does eventually produce and how it works. Personally, I'd love to have something that's a phone and a tablet and looks like that thing they use on Westworld. But that might be asking a little bit much of 2017 tech.

Anyway It's possible that Samsung will unveil the device at CES, but that show tends not to focus on mobile so much. It's perhaps more likely that the phone will get launched at MWC in Barcelona instead.

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Published on September 23 2017

iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 hit stores today

A week and a half after being unveiled on stage at the new Steve Jobs Theater, the iPhone 8/8 Plus and Apple Watch Series 3 have hit just hit store shelves. As ever, eager fans were queued up at stores across the globe to be among the first to get their hands on the new products, though a number of outlets are reporting that the crowd size is significantly sparser than past launches.

According to Reuters, the usual crowd of “hundreds” was “fewer than 30 people” in Sydney this time out. The new iPhone has been well received so far, including our own Matthew Panzarino, who had lots of nice things to say about the handset’s new camera.

Of course, Apple is probably cannibalizing 8 sales a bit with the promise of its ultra-premium iPhone X, which doesn’t actually hit shelves until November 3rd. Increased online orders may also be playing a role here, along with added competition on the high end of the market. Apple’s far from the only premium phone maker these days.

Reviews of the new Apple Watch were fairly mixed, as well. After wearing it around for a bit, I still consider it the best smartwatch on the market, but the device’s launch has no doubt been marred by recent reports of LTE issues. That’s a big bummer when it’s the key feature distinguishing the product from premium generations. Apple has already promised a fix, but that certainly isn’t the news cycle the company was hoping for ahead of launch.

As is the company's custom, we'll likely be hearing more on opening weekend sales figures come early next week.

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