Right to repair in New York is about to become much easier

New York has passed the first “right to repair” bill in the United States, bringing everyone in the state one step closer to fixing their electronic devices without breaking the bank. Under the new bill, dubbed the Digital Fair Repair Act, manufacturers selling “digital electronic products” within New York will be required to make parts, tools, software, and repair manuals available to both consumers and independent repair shops. The state legislature passed the ruling 145-1 on Friday, June 3.

Leading self-repair company iFixit, one of the most vocal right to repair advocates, celebrated the passing of the Digital Fair Repair Act. In a blog post, the company called the measure “one giant leap for repairkind,” saying that manufacturers not only have to pack the self-repair tools into the electronic devices they sell, but they would also have to compete with independent repair shops instead of referring them to repair shops carrying manufacturers’ seal of approval.

“The passage of this bill means that repairs should become less expensive and more comprehensive: People who want to fix their own stuff can. And your repair experience should improve even if you’re intimidated by the thought of cracking open your laptop or phone,” iFixit co-founder Kyle Wiens said. “Where before, manufacturers could push consumers to use manufacturer-authorized shops, now they’ll have to compete. Independent repair shops are often able to do repairs the manufacturer told a customer were impossible.”

It’s important to note that this is the first right-to-repair bill in the country focused specifically on electronics. However, it doesn’t cover everything. The bill’s language mentions only phones, computers, tablets, and gaming systems like the Steam Deck — leaving out home appliances, medical devices, police radios, and automobiles. Furthermore, the Digital Fair Repair Act also isn’t the first bill of its kind to ever exist. Massachusetts passed a similar bill covering only automobiles, and California is working on another one that covers things beyond electronics.

The Digital Fair Repair Act is now awaiting the signature of New York Governor Kathy Hochul without any challenges. Once signed into law, it will take a year for the measure to take effect.

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3 Reasons Why a Google Store in New York Could Succeed

Call it a long time in the making, but an actual brick-and-mortar Google Store is coming to New York City. It’s going to be located at Google’s headquarters in the Chelsea meighborhood, which has long been an established landmark with its hard-to-miss Google signage adorning both sides of the building. Even though Google has experimented in the retail space before with its pop-up store in New York City in 2018, this time it’s looking to be a more substantial, permanent fixture. Google’s not wasting any time, either, coming off the heels of Google I/O 2021.

Whenever a tech giant such as Google makes an announcement about having a physical store to showcase and sell its products, It raises a red flag because you only need to look at another behemoth to see how it can end up being a failure. I’m talking about Microsoft, which once had flourishing retail shops across the country, but ultimately shuttered all of its stores.

The future’s unpredictable, but here’s why Google’s venture has a more promising future ahead of itself.

Google has more consumer tech to show off

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Sure, Microsoft has Windows to carry the company through any major crisis, but one advantage for Google in opening up a physical store is the expansive presence Google has through various categories. From Chromebooks to Pixel smartphones, Nest-branded security cameras to Fitbit wearables, and smart displays to smart speakers, Google’s name can be found on an abundance of tech products.

While I’m confident that we’ll have gadgets and accessories on hand from third-parties at the Google Store, the sheer amount of Google-branded devices overshadows anything that Microsoft had in its stores with its own homemade devices. With a broader reach thanks to its own line of products, this store will be able to attract far more consumers — especially whenever the company unveils or announces something new into the fold.

Bigger events throughout the year creates more interest

Sundar Pichai Google I/O 2021

Speaking of unveilings, there’s no denying that Google attracts far more people to its events than Microsoft. I’m not trying to discredit the Redmond. Washington-based company here, since one of the most iconic unveilings I’ve had the chance to witness firsthand was Microsoft’s Panos Panay wowing of the media and crowd at the announcement of the first Microsoft Surface Book in New York City. But that’s just it, Microsoft’s time in the limelight is isolated to one hardware event that’s typically held in the fall.

Google’s events, on the other hand, go beyond just staple product offerings like its Pixel smartphones. There’s Google I/O for example, which attracts both consumers hungry for new tech and developers who are eager to unlock the true potential of these gadgets in our lives.

These events will undeniably help to draw visitors into the Google Store, so if the company ends up expanding its footprint, it’ll be a great opportunity for people to experience devices firsthand as soon as they’re announced — rather than having to wait a week or so before they’re shipped, which is the current model that’s in place.

Substantially better marketing push

Google Booth CES 2018
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

And finally, I can’t tell you the number of people I know — not just media folks and influencers, but friends and family members — who proudly share their support of all things Google through indirect marketing. I’m talking about tagging their social media posts with @madebygoogle or perhaps the #teampixel hashtag I see whenever someone shares a photo captured by a Pixel device.

This sort of free marketing is a strong indication of how ingrained Google’s presence is in the consumer space. I’m not sure about you, but I can’t think of an original Microsoft hashtag that comes close to reaching the same popularity as #teampixel. The Google Store will benefit greatly because this can help steer those unfamiliar with all of Google’s news toward visiting the store after hearing or seeing something in a social media post.

If you’re eager about visiting the Google Store, it’s going to be located in Chelsea at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 15th Street. You can’t miss it with the giant Google signage out front. Inside, you can expect to see products made by Google — along with experts to help customers with questions or recommendations. There will be health and safety measures in place to make the shopping experience pleasant for all visitors. It will open for business to the public in summer 2021, but there’s no official date yet.

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Tech News

Excelsior Pass COVID-19 “passport” launched in New York

One of the first hurdles that nations around the world faced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was how to keep track of people that patients came in contact with before testing positive for the coronavirus. Contact tracing became almost the perfect opportunity for technology, especially mobile and cloud, to make things easier. Now that vaccinations are underway, a new need has risen, the need to keep track of who has gotten their shots already. Again putting technology to use, New York State just launched the Excelsior Pass, perhaps one of if not the first COVID-19 “passport” to be deployed to the public.

Tracking data is something that today’s technology is great at, sometimes for not-so-innocent purposes even. There have been various forms of contact tracing tech and apps that have been used by different governments and organizations but the most common ones revolve around making use of smartphones and apps. Now the same is being done for keeping track of COVID-19 testing and vaccination statuses, at least in the state of New York.

Developed together with IBM, Excelsior Pass, named after the state’s motto, is one of the first so-called COVID-19 passports to be deployed en masse. Like a regular passport, it will be a sort of ticket for events and establishments that are starting to open within the state. New York has made it mandatory to have a negative COVID-19 test result for large events and venues and the Excelsior Pass is meant to make it convenient to store that data and show it when needed.

Users of the Excelsior Pass app can opt to either print the QR code that verifies their negative result or vaccination status or keep the data in the app’s “Wallet”. Businesses will also have to download a companion app that they will use to scan the QR code to verify that data before granting entry.

As with contact tracing apps, privacy is one of the biggest concerns over such methods of storing and sharing people’s information. The QR code generated by Excelsior Pass only continues information about the validity of the pass and not the user’s personal information. Of course, the use of Excelsior Pass itself is optional but New Yorkers will still need to present the required test results of vaccination status for those gatherings and events.

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