TIME Companies

Judge Lets Drivers’ Class Action Lawsuit Against Uber Go Forward

Eric Risberg—AP A man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco on Dec. 16, 2014.

The lawsuit could set a precedent that reshapes some of the world's most promising young companies

A California judge handed down an order on Tuesday that could spell big trouble for the on-demand economy. Northern District Court Judge Edward Chen determined that 160,000 current and former Uber drivers in the state could be treated as a class, which will allow a lawsuit against the company to go forward. At stake are questions about the future of jobs in America and potentially billions of dollars for one of the world’s fastest-growing companies.

The lawsuit alleges that those drivers were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, and that Uber has thus cheated them out of things that employees get under California law, like reimbursements for gas, worker’s compensation and other benefits. The lawsuit also claims that the company failed to pass on tips to the workers.

Chen said in his order the court will allow four named drivers to stand in for the whole lot as lawyers battle over their worker status and tips they may be owed. He denied their request to seek reimbursements for things like gas as a class—saying the four drivers might not be representing everyone’s best interest—but he also gave Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer representing the drivers, 35 days to file arguments convincing him otherwise.

Uber itself has said that if the case doesn’t go in their favor, allowing them to keep treating drivers as contractors—which in turn allows them to avoid costly outlays ranging from payroll taxes to minimum wage—the company might be forced to change its entire business model. That kind of precedent could also send many other companies who have followed Uber’s lead rushing to revamp their business models, converting their booze deliverers or cleaners or handymen to employees. And it would likely influence judges overseeing more than a dozen other cases about the status of workers in the on-demand economy.

At a hearing in early August, Uber’s lawyers argued that their drivers are too diverse—and have such various relationships with the company—that they cannot reasonably be treated as one class. There is no such thing, they asserted, as a “typical” Uber driver. If that argument had prevailed, those 160,000 people would have been left to bring lawsuits on their own, a costly and time-consuming task most likely wouldn’t pursue.

But Chen said that the company was taking an impossible position: asserting on the one hand that all drivers are categorically contractors and then also asserting that they’re so wildly different that no court could treat them all the same. “Uber argues that individual issues with respect to each driver’s ‘unique’ relationship with Uber so predominate that this Court (unlike, apparently, Uber itself) cannot make a classwide determination,” Chen wrote.

A further conference regarding the case has been set for October 22.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TIME Comcast

This Is How Much Comcast Is Charging For Unlimited Data

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

And it’s only available in one state

The nation’s largest cable company has decided to charge $30 to let customers bypass Comcast’s data limit of 300GB per month, Ars Technica reports.

The company has been experimenting with data caps in nine different states. When customers exceed 300GB, they have to pay $10 for each additional 50GB, although they are given three months of leeway before they are penalized.

Comcast recently decided to test an unlimited data option in a few Florida locations — Fort Lauderdale, the Keys, and Miami. Customers in these areas can choose to pay an extra $30 per month to stop worrying about going over their limit. If they end up using less than 300GB, they will not be reimbursed. The additional charge is only worth it for customers who tend to use more than 450GB each month.

TIME Smartphones

Qualcomm Brings Artificial Intelligence to Smartphone Security

Qualcomm's technology will be used in a variety of Android smartphones

Upcoming cell phone chips from Qualcomm will use artificial intelligence to block malware before it infects your phone. The chip company said on Monday that the next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor used in a variety of Android smartphones will be the first chip that uses machine learning to detect threats and privacy issues thanks to an application called Snapdragon Smart Protect.

The learning aspect is important because security threats today are no longer static. They constantly evolve, and relying on continuous updates to keep your phone protected would be burdensome to the user (and their data plan). Qualcomm’s plan is to use the Zeroth neural networking technology it has developed in the last few years to help the Snapdragon Smart Protect software running on the phone adapt to the threats it will encounter in the wild, all in real time. This will be the first time theZeroth technology has been actually put into action.

Qualcomm has done three things here technology-lovers should pay attention to. The first is bringing machine learning, or artificial intelligence, to security. The second is bringing machine learning to the smartphone, where power is at a premium. Typically most machine learning algorithms run on large servers plugged into a wall at a data centers—a far difference scenario than a battery-operated device that needs to last all day. The third thing is that Qualcomm is working with security software providers via an application programming interface to share some data so the Snapdragon Smart Protect application on the chip can learn what threats are out there and how best to handle them.

This kind of data sharing is invaluable in the security world for training artificial intelligence to identify looming threats, but it is also the competitive advantage of security software makers, which means they don’t give it up lightly—or at all. For Qualcomm to get them to start sharing some of this data to help train the artificial intelligence powering this software on its chip is a big deal. It will ultimately offer firms that participate, including Avast, AVG, and Lookout, an advantage because their software will run better on smartphones. Depending on the terms of the deal it may also improve their software across all lines of business.

Qualcomm expects consumer devices using this technology to be on the market next year. Of course, for it to take off, handset manufacturers will have to adopt the next-generation Qualcomm chipset, and whether or not they will is still somewhat of an open question, especially since Samsung had dumped Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 in its high-end handsets late last year. However, the new technology may be exactly what Qualcomm needs to win over smartphone makers once more.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Google

See How Google’s Logo Has Evolved Over the Years

The company made another big change Tuesday

TIME Google

Introducing Google’s Brand New Logo

Google 2015

Google's new 'look' is designed to look good on any screen.

It should come as no surprise that the search giant, now owned by holding company Alphabet, takes its letters very seriously.

Those iconic, multi-colored six characters have to look good anywhere, everywhere—”even on the tiniest screen,” writes product management vice president Tamar Yehoshua and user experience director Bobby Nath on the corporate blog. That means the symbols have to shine on your desktop computer, pop in your car, dazzle on your watch, gleam on your phone, sing in your smart contact lenses, and please eyes everywhere in between.

“G-o-o-g-l-e” can’t get old. And so, to stay current in the multi-screen age, the company has decided to introduce a brand new logo.

The update flattens out the letters into a sans-serif typeface, and softens their color palette. For the search giant, it’s a more modern look—one that seems to take its cue from Alphabet’s own unfussy wordmark.

You can learn more about the evolution of Google’s logo in a video on the company’s blog. As Yehoshua and Nath say, the design is an ever-iterating process.

This isn’t the first time we’ve changed our look and it probably won’t be the last, but we think today’s update is a great reflection of all the ways Google [fortune-stock symbol=”GOOG”] works for you across Search, Maps, Gmail, Chrome and many others. We think we’ve taken the best of Google (simple, uncluttered, colorful, friendly), and recast it not just for the Google of today, but for the Google of the future.

You’ll see the new design roll out across our products soon. Hope you enjoy it!

Earlier this year, Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] introduced a new lightweight, mobile-optimized logo as well. German automaker BMW [fortune-stock symbol=”BMW”], restaurant chain IHOP [fortune-stock symbol=”DIN”], and Airbnb are among those who have recently done the same.

Appearances, names, looks, mediums—they come and go. That won’t stop Google from bleeding blue, red, yellow, and green.

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TIME Apple

Apple’s Former Supplier Cuts 40% of Its Workforce

Apple Starts iPhone 6 Sales In Germany
Sean Gallup—Getty Images

Apple hired the company to produce sapphire screens for its iPhones

Apple’s former supplier GT Advanced Technologies is laying off 40% of its workforce after losing its deal with Apple and filing for bankruptcy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In 2013, Apple hired the New Hampshire-based manufacturer, which previously manufactured industrial equipment, to produce sapphire screens for its iPhones at a Mesa, Ariz. plant. But the company struggled to produce screens that were at the quality Apple demanded, and Apple decided not to use sapphire screens at all for the iPhone 6.

The supplier filed for bankruptcy in October, less than a month after Apple revealed an iPhone version that used glass screens instead of the sapphire screens that GT Advanced Technologies attempted to produce. The supplier had spent $900 million to transform from a successful industrial equipment manufacturer to Apple’s partner—a decision that resulted in no revenues when Apple refused to buy.

GT Advanced Technologies has already laid off 700 employees. It stated that it had 1,000 when it filed for bankruptcy.

Apple plans to convert the factory, which was originally slated to produce 2,000 jobs, to a data center that employs 150 people. The failed plant was supposed to be the world’s largest artificial sapphire production facility.

TIME Media

Pandora Is Going Ad-Free for One Day Only

Bloomberg/Getty Images

It's a 10th birthday celebration for the company

For one glorious day Pandora users will be able to listen to as many tunes as they want without being interrupted by ads. The Internet radio platform is celebrating its 10th anniversary with “Listener Love Day,” which will remove commercials from the service for 24 hours starting at midnight EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Despite an onslaught of competition from streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes Radio, Pandora has managed to steadily increase its user base and now boasts close to 80 million monthly listeners. The company is encouraging people to check out its “10×10” playlist as well, which features the 10 songs that have received the most thumbs-up over the last decade.

Listeners who decide they prefer the ad-free Pandora can sign up for Pandora One, which costs $4.99 per month to excise ads from the service.

TIME cars

Shift Review: There’s a New, Easy Way to Sell Your Used Car

Courtesy of Shift A photographer creates images of a Shift user's car before it's listed on their site, a peer-to-peer marketplace that announced $50 million in funding on Sept. 1.

For people in San Francisco, Los Angeles and nearly 20 more markets by the end of next year

When Minnie Ingersoll tried to sell her BMW on Craigslist, she thought it would be a cakewalk. But after four test drives, financing snafus and distress over how fast strangers drive cars they don’t own, the former Google product manager gave up and went to a dealer, knowing she would get less money. That was the moment she realized that an idea her colleague had been pushing might really change the roughly $350 billion peer-to-peer car sales industry.

That colleague was George Arison, now the CEO of Shift, a San Francisco startup that announced a $50 million funding round on Tuesday morning. Shift’s mission is to make it easy for one person to sell their used car to another person, without all the trust issues and amateur photography and insecurities about what the right price really is.

“People voiced this massive frustration with the existing system, the fact that there was so much work to do to get the car,” Arison says. “We wondered if we could build a marketplace for party-to-party transactions, that mimics what, say, Airbnb does.” The new funding round led by Goldman Sachs will help the company expand from their current two markets — San Francisco and Los Angeles — to another 20 by the end of next year.

Like other new-economy players, Shift is not interested in owning things. They don’t ever hold the titles to the cars that they help sell — much like Airbnb does not own deeds for the charming bungalows that their guests book. No one working there has a dealer’s license and no one is paid on commission. In fact, having previously been a car dealer is sure way not to get hired. “Our goal is to be really transparent. If you’ve got an extra thousand miles or dents, those things matter,” says Ingersoll, who left Google to become COO of Shift. “We’re not trying to screw anybody.”

Here’s how the process works, as tested out on my 2011 Prius (because the shame of owning a non-hybrid car in the Bay Area is topped only by that of openly smoking tobacco and/or using plastic bags).

As a seller, you first go to their website and enter some basic information like the year, mileage and trim level to get a preliminary quote and “guaranteed minimum.” The quote is preliminary because the information is inevitably incomplete, given that few humans can recite from memory every single option or flaw their vehicle has (part of what makes it hard to correctly price yourself). Those details can make a huge difference for buyers and sellers: In my case, Craigslist ads offered that make and model in the Bay Area for prices ranging from $12,000 to $17,000. Shift’s algorithms spat out a guaranteed minimum of $13,100, with a likely sales price of $14,700.

Next Shift dispatches a person — who, in an oh-so-Silicon-Valley way, they call a car enthusiast — to come to your home at a time you pick and look over the vehicle. Stewart Ford arrived at my building a week later and five minutes early, carrying a tablet that would spit out a new, more precise estimate after he entered all of my car’s truth. He got in the driver’s seat, checked the lights and windows and mileage. He inspected all the panels and the doors and the engine. He politely barraged me with questions. “We try to put ourselves in the buyer’s shoes,” Ford said, meaning he checks for everything they might want checked and asks everything they might want to ask.

Ford said the scratches by my rear left wheel (which I forgot to mention on the site), could likely be touched up for about $300, and some wheel rash would cut my quote about $200. The repairs from a rear-end accident (totally not my fault) would also cost me. All in all, they’d list the car for about $15,000, he said, and I’d walk away with at least $12,000. With the demand for Prius’ in the Bay Area, he guessed they’d hold onto it for about two weeks. The story would be different in Detroit, he said. And if it took longer than a set time to sell — 60 days in my case — I’d get the minimum and be done with it.

Had I continued this charade and let the enthusiast take my car, he would have driven it to “The Hub” in South San Francisco, where Shift details and professionally photographs vehicles — including all their flaws — after mechanics give them a 150-point inspection. If they find a flaw related to safety, Shift will not sell the car until it’s fixed. In the case of something like my cosmetic wheel rash, they’ll offer the option to fix it, something they can provide at a lower-than-average price, because they get high-volume discounts from local mechanics.

Copywriters would have dealt with the listing and other SEO-related tasks that Ingersoll says are better handled by professionals. Then an Uber driver would have probably bought my car and renamed it something silly, unlike her current name, Destiny. Shift would take care of all the DMV dealings and other paperwork, the mere thought of which still exhausts me as I type.

On the buying side, Shift is pushing the convenience angle hard. All an interested party has to do is go on their site, peruse the listings and request a test drive. An enthusiast will bring the car to wherever they are in that local market — though some enthusiasts have driven up to two hours away — in as little as 45 minutes, for nothing and with no catches. When I made a request, which they get more than a dozen of each day, an enthusiast named Ed Yuen brought a black-on-black 2013 Porsche Cayenne to my office and let me tool around town pretending to be a Secret Service agent for a good hour (while covered by their insurance policy). He didn’t pressure me, in part because he’s paid hourly. Had I decided to buy it, as about one out of five Shift customers does on the spot, I would have been assured it was in good shape and given a seven-day window to return the car.

The big question, of course, is whether is whether I could have sold my Prius for more or gotten the Cayenne for less if I had gone through all the headache of a pure peer-to-peer transaction. The answer is probably yes, though perhaps by just hundreds of dollars. Arison will say on the record that the price points they offer both buyers and sellers are better than what anyone could hope for at a dealership and more accurate than anything they’ll get from Kelley Blue Book, because Shift is constantly tuning algorithms to learn from comparison prices in local markets.

If Shift’s business model pans out, that amount will decrease as the company grows. At this stage, the gap between the projected sale price and guaranteed minimum (about $3,000 in my case) is how Shift makes money. If Shift can sell a car for more than the minimum, the company and seller split that profit 50/50. But they plan to eventually make their cash from other services, possibly setting up their own in-house body shop, likely providing on-demand oil changes and definitely offering financing.

The latter is already happening and was the original mission of the company founded in 2013. Arison had tried to get his own loan for a peer-to-peer purchase and was told by banks that he had to go through a dealership (who could, essentially, vouch for the worth of an asset banks aren’t set up to assess). He says he found that silly, giving dealerships control over people’s access to financing. Yet he says when he set out to offer people another option for capital, what they really wanted was to wash their hands of the whole process, except the part where they make or save a lot of money. So Shift pivoted, as startups do.

“Being able to buy a car online is great,” Ingersoll says of other startups trying to disrupt the used car space with technology. “But you don’t get the education, you don’t get the white-glove treatment, the convenience that we’re aiming to provide.”

TIME Gadgets

This Is the Most Advanced Nest Thermostat Yet

The new Nest has some tricks up its sleeve

In-house intelligence just got an upgrade, thanks to the Google-owned Nest.

Typical smart home gadgets turn on and off via an app. Some of the more advanced gear takes cues from data sources, like the weather or usage patterns they detect over time, and anticipate actions before users even ask for them. And with Tuesday’s announcement of the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, smart home devices have now gained the ability to troubleshoot, giving its users a “heads up” if it sees something going wrong with the furnace.

With a circular, brushed-steel and glass look similar to its predecessors, the latest, $249 Nest connected thermostat boasts a refined design and several new features. The new version is slightly thinner, part of a gradual shrinking of the thermostat that dates back to Nest’s original effort. In addition, the thermostat’s new high-resolution display has much more visual pop, with a 40% larger (and brighter) footprint.

But these design changes aren’t about turning heads as much as they’re meant to improve the Nest’s usability. Take, for instance, its new Farsight mode. Previously, users had to be within three feet of the thermostat for the display to wake up and show the status of the home’s HVAC. Farsight can detect occupants from across the room, and when it does, a display pops up showing the target temperature or a clock. Viewing this visual is only possible with the Nest’s lower profile edge (reducing the viewing angle) and its new, high-definition display.

The other killer feature of the new Nest is actually a savior. Furnace Heads-Up enables the thermostat to monitor the automatic shutoff setting of a home heating system, a failsafe that kicks on when it overheats. By looking for patterns in the shutdowns, the smart home device is able to diagnose potential problems and alert the homeowner in advance of a catastrophic furnace issue.

Later this year, Furnace Heads-Up will also be made available to Nest Learning Thermostat first- and second-generation units, a welcome addition for loyal users who might otherwise feel left out in the cold. And in another way to warm up to potential buyers, Nest also announced that it’s knocking the price of its second-generation learning thermostat down to $199. So, if Farsight isn’t a feature that’s important to you (maybe your thermostat is in a hallway), now might be a good time (especially before winter) to spring for some new smart home gear.

Read next: This New Wearable Helped Me Chill Out

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TIME Apple

Apple May Be Taking On Netflix and Amazon

Here's the latest rumor out of Cupertino

Apple has been meeting with Hollywood executives about producing original content like Netflix and Amazon do, Variety reports.

Apple is planning to begin hiring for the project “in the coming months,” with operations slated to get underway within a year, unnamed sources told the publication.

Still, there remain far more unknowns than knows. It’s unclear whether Apple would produce movies, TV shows or both, or if the company would produce content in-house or work with outside producers, like Netflix does. It’s also uncertain how Apple might monetize its content.

Another interesting nugget in Variety’s report is that Apple was among the parties involved in the bidding war for British automotive TV show Top Gear’s stars, who recently left the BBC and eventually found a new home at Amazon.

The latest rumor comes just a few months after Apple launched its music streaming service, Apple Music.

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