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A mysterious battery-powered Google device appears in FCC filings

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It’s officially August, which means we’re getting close to the fall hardware season, and two recent FCC filings from Amazon and Google could hint at a couple products the companies may — or may not — reveal.

Google’s product is pretty mysterious; the product is described only as a “Wireless Device.” It appears to be battery-powered — there’s no AC connection — though it can be powered over a 5V USB connection, and one diagram shows it connected to a laptop for testing. As 9to5Google observed, the filing could indicate that this is some kind of Nest device — some Nest cameras have used 3.65V rechargeable batteries, for example.

Google has already said the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and Pixel Watch will arrive this fall, so whatever this “Wireless Device” is, it could be revealed when the company shares more details about those other products. Google didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

We’re more sure about the Amazon filing, which appears to point toward a barely revised version of the company’s premium Echo Studio smart speaker. At first glance, there’s not an obvious connection: the new product is described vaguely as a “Digital Media Receiver,” and digging a bit deeper, the filings indicate it has an AC power cable, which lets it plug into an outlet, and a Zigbee radio, which is commonly used for controlling smart home products. The filing itself doesn’t even look to be from Amazon — instead, it was filed by a company vaguely named Flake LLC.

But Amazon often uses fake shell companies for FCC filings to keep its products secret, and the photos of Flake’s one other product filed with the agency — another “Digital Media Receiver” — are an exact match of the Echo Studio. And the newer filing actually says that that Echo Studio and this second item are “electrical [sic] identical” except for a different MediaTek wireless chip. It’s not clear exactly why Amazon is swapping the chip, but perhaps it’s doing it to address supply chain issues, like what some other companies have done before: Tesla substituted alternative chips to help keep up production, while Panic said last year it would need to use a different CPU in later shipments of its Playdate gaming handheld.

Amazon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. The company often holds a September event packed with devices news, but given how minor the change appears to be, there’s a chance Amazon doesn’t say anything about it at all.

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Tuesday’s top tech news: Elon squares off against Apple

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Oh Elon. It was pretty obvious something was up when Twitter’s new CEO tweeted out of the blue that “Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter,” and asked whether “they hate free speech in America?” Following a question from my colleague Jake Kastrenakes, Musk confirmed that the iPhone maker was threatening Twitter’s presence in the App Store and/or making moderation demands. Welcome to hell, Elon.

Away from the chaos at Twitter there was more bad news in the crypto sector with the news that finance firm BlockFi has filed for bankruptcy amidst the continued FTX fallout, while crypto exchange Kraken has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines over possible Iran sanction violations. Thank god we’ve got another trailer for The Super Mario Bros. Movie to look forward to later today.

For now, here’s a silly tweet:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Tuesday, November 29th, 2022.



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‘No Cooperation’: How Sam Bankman-Fried Tried to Cling to FTX

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“Sam this is an excellent pick and I wholeheartedly hope you sign this tonight,” Mr. Dexter wrote in an email on the evening of Nov. 10. “The faster John is in place, the faster the company can resolve issues that require urgent progress.”

A flurry of emails followed. In a message at 3:38 a.m. on Nov. 11, Mr. Miller asked for an update on Mr. Bankman-Fried’s decision. “I am chatting with Sam,” responded Ken Ziman, a lawyer at the firm Paul Weiss who was representing Mr. Bankman-Fried.

Ten minutes later, Mr. Ziman confirmed that Mr. Bankman-Fried had signed the document, authorizing Mr. Ray to take over FTX. The company filed for bankruptcy a few hours later.

The filing was hardly the end of the chaos. The court submission listed more than 130 corporate entities tied to FTX, including its U.S. arm and Alameda, the hedge fund. But the filing was inaccurate: Some of the entities were not owned by the exchange. They belonged to AZA Finance, a separate company that had recently become partners with FTX to promote crypto in Africa.

FTX later acknowledged the error. But in a Nov. 11 Slack message to Mr. Miller and other officials, Elizabeth Rossiello, the chief executive of AZA Finance, called the mistakes in the bankruptcy filing “a storm of wild irresponsibility.”

“This is hurting 9 years of work we have done to create this platform!!” she wrote.

Mr. Miller responded defensively. “We had no cooperation of the founders in preparing this week,” he said. “It was unfortunate.”

Mr. Bankman-Fried was also frustrated. Despite giving up control of FTX, he continued contacting possible investors about new funding for the exchange. In a letter to former colleagues last week, he said he regretted filing for bankruptcy, claiming that “potential interest in billions of dollars of funding came in roughly eight minutes after I signed the Chapter 11 docs.”

He presented no evidence for that claim, and in any case, FTX was no longer his company to run. On the morning of Nov. 11, Mr. Miller moved quickly to make that clear, requesting the deletion of information about the firm’s old leadership from its website.



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The best Cyber Monday deals available now

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Below, we’ve rounded up the best Cyber Monday deals you can currently get, whether you’re in the market for a 4K OLED, a gaming laptop, or another piece of big-ticket tech that would normally require you to shell out your entire paycheck. We’ve included a number of budget-friendly items, too, just in case you’re looking for chargers, a cheap(er) pair of earbuds, or other essential gadgets to round out your arsenal.

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