Tech Digest daily roundup: Apple Books launches AI-narrated audiobooks


Apple has launched a raft of audiobooks narrated by artificial intelligence to its Apple Books platform, but maintains it “remains committed to celebrating and showcasing the magic of human narration”. According to The Guardian, which said the tech giant had “quietly” uploaded the text-to-speech content in “an attempt to upend the lucrative and fast-growing audiobook market”, Apple was due to launch the project in mid-November, but delayed it. Now, a search of the Apple Books platform of “AI narration” reveals a number of titles including Chasing Rainbows by Mona Ingram. The Book Seller 

Meta has been hit with a €390m fine (£343m) fine by regulators for forcing users to agree to personalised adverts. The penalty has been handed out by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which said the social media giant had breached EU privacy rules. As well as the hefty fine, Meta has also been banned from forcing users to sign up to such ads. The promotions are based on someone’s online activity, allowing advertisers to target those likely to be interested in their products and services. Sky News 

Amazon plans to cut more than 18,000 jobs, the largest number in the firm’s history, as it battles to save costs. The online giant, which employs 1.5 million people globally, did not say which countries the job cuts would hit, but said they would include Europe. Most of the job losses will come from its consumer retail business and its human resources division. Boss Andy Jassy cited the “uncertain economy” for the cuts, saying it had “hired rapidly over several years.” “We don’t take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they might affect the lives of those who are impacted,” he said in a memo to staff. BBC 

BT has invested £5m in a startup seeking to create a drone corridor across southern and central England to carry cargo and other supplies. The telecoms group’s digital hub, Etc, is investing the money into the drone firm Altitude Angel, to support its work on Project Skyway. The scheme would involve a 165-mile drone corridor created above Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Coventry and Rugby – in what the two firms hope will become the UK’s drone superhighway and the largest and longest network of its kind in the world. The Guardian

New car registrations in the United Kingdom fell to 1.6 million last year, the lowest level since 1992, as a global chip shortage hammered sales in the first six months. The supply constraints saw many manufacturers prioritize the delivery of battery electric vehicles, which enjoyed record sales and overtook diesel cars for the first time in the UK market. Tesla’s (TSLA)Model Y was the third-best seller overall, behind the Nissan Qashqai and Vauxhall Corsa. CNN

As part of its connected world strategy unveiled at CES 2023, Samsung unveiled extended partnerships with several other companies, one of which was Signify, the owner of Philips Hue. And at the same event in Las Vegas, Samsung and Signify announced the release of a new smart TV app called Philips Hue Sync TV, which could be described as a software version of the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box with some additional benefits. The Philips Hue Sync TV app supports all image formats and gives users various options for customizing intensity, brightness, and other parameters. 

Chris Price
For latest tech stories go to