Apple faces two EU antitrust probes, Amazon launches a new social distancing tool, and remote work needs more chit chat.

It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Wednesday, June 17, and I’m your host Baneet Braich.

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Apple is the recent target of European Union antitrust investigations into its App Store and Apple Pay. Regulators are saying Apple distorts competition and hurts consumers by limiting choice and innovation and high prices. This investigation is another push from the EU to challenge the dominance of tech giants. The EU will be looking at whether Apple Pay’s rules require online shops to make it the preferred or default option which would shut out rival payment systems. The EU is also investigating concerns that Apple limits access for rival payment systems with the “tap and go” wireless function on iPhones.

Amazon has launched a new AI tool called ‘Distant Assistant’ to maintain social distancing in its facilities. The technology combines a TV screen, depth sensors, and AI-enabled camera to track movements in real-time. If employees come closer than six feet with one another, circles around their feet flash red to encourage workers to move apart. Amazon compares the technology to radar speed checks that give drivers feedback in real-time. Hundreds of more ‘Distant Assistants’ are planned to roll out to new locations in the coming weeks. The technology will also be open-source so other companies can quickly replicate and use the devices.

Lastly, office small talk is not just chit chat, researchers have found it’s quite valuable as a social ritual. The little chats that spark in the hallway, by the coffee machine, or before a meeting are quite important. Jessica Methot, a Rutgers University professor recently published a study that says employees who engaged in more small talk, feel more acknowledged and have a better sense of connection with coworkers. They might even go out of their way to help others based on these mini conversations. As employees work from home the chit chat becomes a challenge however, Methot encourages managers to leave a little time before meetings for casual conversations. All to say small talk is not very small at all. Professor Methot told the New York Times that, “the loss of these rituals is really profound.”

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. I’m Baneet Braich, thanks for listening.



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