Juice Jacking, Goodbye HBO Max, Hello NYPD Robots

Juice Jacking, Goodbye HBO Max, Hello NYPD Robots

Dear Studio Fam,

This week's tech news includes a major update to a popular streaming platform, a test of NYPD's first street patrol robots, and yet another creepy and amazing generative AI film trailer. Of course we also review the latest Twitter drama and highlight a new warning from the FBI and FTC for travelers with smartphones against "juice jacking."

Meet Max, the New Home for HBO & Discovery+

Credit: TechCrunch

Warner Bros. Discovery, the new conglomerate that was formed when AT&T spun off its disastrous acquisition of Time Warner, unveiled its new streaming platform Max this week, promising fundamental technical improvements as well as more personalized content recommendations. While at first confusing – some tech outlets originally reported that HBO itself was being rebranded as “Max” – the news marks a sensible evolution for WBD. CEO of Streaming JB Perrette had the task of unifying the tech stacks and content libraries of Warner Brothers and Discovery which are still fragmented unto themselves.

As of last week for example, HBO maintained separate streaming websites for traditional cable customers (HBO Now), satellite and cable customers abroad (HBO GO), and domestic cord cutters (HBO Max). Soon all of these brands will be deprecated and replaced with the singular Max platform. Despite decades more experience and blockbuster franchises like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, HBO only has 96 million customers globally. Max should provide WBD with efficiency and scale to properly compete in the streaming market dominated by Netflix (230 million customers) and Disney+ (161 million customers).

AI Imagines Wes Anderson’s Lord of The Rings

Credit: Substack

Generative AI video is still in its nascent stages yet we’ve all been captivated by the eerie and hilarious promos put out by brands like Balenciaga. Independent generative AI video projects are just getting started, like this attempt at imagining The Lord of Rings as directed by Wes Anderson.

NYC Testing Security Robot In Times Square

Credit: ARS

Amidst surges in violent crime and stubbornly low subway ridership, NYC Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a pilot program to police Times Square with a large egg shaped robot. The Knightscope K5 Autonomous Security Robot will begin a six month test this summer and New Yorkers are hoping it turns out better than previous tests.

FBI Warns Travelers of “Juice Jacking”

Credit: Mac Observer

Public charging ports for smartphones are the newest means for hackers to steal personal information, the FBI warned this week. These USB ports, commonly found in airport waiting areas and hotel lobbies, aren’t inherently dangerous until compromised by hackers. Similar to how ATMs can be physically modified to steal your PIN code, public charging ports can be modified with hidden components that create a data connection with your device and attempt to download your personal information. The FCC also warns consumers against the threat and has dubbed it “juice jacking.”

Nobody wants to get on an airplane with a low battery, so there are a number of ways you can keep yourself safe from getting juice jacked. We’re huge fans of Anker power banks, and Android users can buy charging cables that block data transfer. If you have to use a public charging station, you can still protect yourself by watching out for a data transfer request upon jacking in. On iPhone, there's a popup asking “Trust This Device?” A public charger should never ask that, so just say no.

Twitter Is Officially X

Credit: Elon Musk

Twitter has officially been absorbed by X Corp, the holding company owned by Elon Musk. With Musk's reputation for pushing boundaries and disrupting industries, the implications of this merger are yet to be fully understood. Some industry experts speculate that this could mark a new era for Twitter, potentially leading to innovative changes and new developments in the platform's features and functionality.

As Twitter's future unfolds under the umbrella of X Corp, users and stakeholders alike will be closely watching to see what changes lie ahead. Will this merger lead to further consolidation of Musk’s businesses? Considering that SpaceX, The Boring Company, and Neuralink all remain privately held, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that Musk plans to roll them all up into his “everything” company.