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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Self-Driving Cars Should Look Down, Not Just Ahead

A Boston-based startup wants to equip AVs with ground penetrating radar, which they can use to identify exactly where they are.
Source: Wired

The Persistent Myth of Speed and "Productivity"

It’s not immoral to want relief from being too slow, scared, or fat, but speed could set you up for brain damage and psychosis—and life-­draining repetition.
Source: Wired

Apple cracks down on gambling apps in China

Apple is cracking down on illegal content in China after it removed potentially thousands of apps related to gambling, including ‘lottery’ services.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. phone-maker purged as many as 25,000 apps — that’s a figure that was first cited by state-owned broadcaster CCTV [link in Chinese]. Apple didn’t comment on the number of apps removed, but it did confirm that it took action.

“Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China. We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Apple offers over 1.5 million apps in China. Greater China — which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan — is Apple’s third largest region based on business, grossing $9.6 billion in the most recent quarter. That’s around 18 percent of its total revenue.

The removals come weeks after a number of state-media reported criticism of Apple for failing to prevent issues such a spam, gambling, pornography and more concerning its business in Asia.

That criticism has been linked to the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S. — a spat that cost Qualcomm’s its $44 billion acquisition of NXP — but that may be wide of the mark. Apple is not alone in being rebuked by Beijing for content deemed unsuitable, a number of China’s up-and-coming startups have also had their wings clipped.

Earlier this year, ambitious new media firm ByteDance — which operates news and video apps and is currently talking to investors to raise $2.5-$3.5 billion — was ordered to shutter a parody app it operated in China. Additionally, four news and content apps were suspended from the App Store and Google Play for offending authorities. ByteDance responded by doubling its content moderation team and developing stronger systems for checking content.

“Content had appeared that did not accord with core socialist values and was not a good guide for public opinion. Over the past few years, we put more effort and resources toward expanding the business, and did not take enough measures to supervise our platform,” founder and CEO Zhang Yiming said in a statement that seemed designed to appease internet regulators.

Apple has, of course, taken criticism for kowtowing to Beijing by removing more than 50 VPN apps, which can be used to circumvent China’s internet censorship system, from the App Store. CEO Tim Cook has expressed his belief that the apps — and others removed by Apple in order to comply with Chinese law — will return, but it is difficult to envisage a scenario in which that happens.


Source: TechCrunch

Top 5 reasons to use a VPN video – CNET

If you’re going to go online, better safe than sorry, right?
Source: CNET

Philips Hue's newest smart lights are coming for your TV – CNET

The new Play and Signe smart lights are designed to color your living room walls and smarten up your home entertainment experience.
Source: CNET

Walmart completes its $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart

Walmart announced over the weekend that it has completed a $16 billion investment in Flipkart that sees it become the majority owner of the Indian e-commerce company.

The deal was first revealed back in May and now it has closed after receiving the necessary approvals. It sees Walmart take a 77 percent share in the company, buying out a number of prior investors in the process and expanding its rivalry with Amazon to a new horizon. The investment capital also includes $2 billion in new equity funding which will be used for growth while the transaction was structured so that Flipkart itself can still go public. That latter point could mean that the Indian firm must go public within four years, as TechCrunch previously reported.

Flipkart will continue to be run by its leadership with Tencent and Tiger Global retaining board seats. Those two have remained investors in the business, alongside others that include Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and Microsoft. Walmart previously suggested that other allies would come aboard as investors. Google was strongly mooted, but so far there have been no strategic additions.

Walmart said that its plans for India will include investments that “support national initiatives and will bring sustainable benefits in jobs creation, supporting small businesses, supporting farmers and supply chain development and reducing food waste.”

As we previously reported, it also plans to use Flipkart as a “key center of learning” for the rest of its business across the world, and that includes its home market.

“Not only is [Flipkart] innovative [with the] problem-solving culture that they have, but they are doing some great work both in the AI space, how they are using data across their platforms but particularly in terms of the payment platform that they’ve created through PhonePe. All of those things we can learn from for the future and see how we can leverage those around the international markets and potentially into the US as well,” Walmart COO Judith McKenna said back in May when the deal was announced.

Flipkart’s business could also get a whole lot more transparent since its quarterly results will be reported as part of Walmart’s earnings. Although they will be part of its international business so that might provide some protection from direct scrutiny.


Source: TechCrunch

I learned to drive like Ford's test drivers – Roadshow

Getting an idea of what it takes to pass Ford’s Tier 4 driver certification.
Source: CNET

One extra week to apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2018

Begnadigung. That’s German for reprieve… well, close enough for us. And that’s what we’re giving all the lollygaggers, procrastinators and last-minute decision-makers. We extended the deadline to apply for Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. Yup, you now have until August 27 at 9 p.m. PST to submit your application. But why wait any longer — apply right here, today.

If you’re an early-stage startup founder with dreams of building a company to rival the likes of Dropbox, Mint or Yammer, then our premier startup pitch competition was designed for you. We should know because the founders of those companies — and more than 750 others — launched to fame and fortune from the Startup Battlefield stage and have gone on to collectively raise $8 billion dollars and generate 102 exits.

Here’s what you need to know about competing in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2018.

First, TechCrunch editors, who clearly have a flair for identifying high-potential startups, review every application. Our acceptance rate is typically 3 percent, making this event highly curated and competitive. We’ll choose up to 15 startups to participate.

Startup Battlefield takes place in front of a live audience — thousands of people, including investors, journalists and influential technologists. Each team gets just six minutes to present a live demo to an expert panel of investors and entrepreneurs. Following each pitch, the judges get six minutes to put each team through an intensive Q& A.

Approximately five teams move to the semi-finals and endure another round of pitching and inquisition. And then only one team will emerge victorious, hoist the Disrupt Cup and take home the $50,000 equity-free cash prize.

If that sounds nerve-wracking, well, it is. But the good news is that TechCrunch editors provide all team founders with free pitch coaching before they ever step onstage. You’ll be ready to handle anything the judges throw your way.

And win or lose, all Startup Battlefield teams benefit from broad investor and media exposure. Plus, we live-stream the entire Startup Battlefield competition to a global audience on TechCrunch.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (and make it available later, on-demand).

This is a prime opportunity to place your early-stage startup in front of Europe’s top tech investors, and you’ll never know if you have what it takes to win it all if you don’t apply.

Startup Battlefield takes place at Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. The new application deadline is August 27 at 9 p.m. PST. Take advantage of your begnadigung and apply right now.


Source: TechCrunch

SoftBank’s Vision Fund to help Chinese online insurance giant ZhongAn go international

SoftBank’s Vision Fund is backing Chinese online insurance giant ZhongAn through its latest investment, which could take the company — which has struggled for stability following a monster IPO last year — into international markets.

The Vision Fund announced today it has made an undisclosed investment in ZhongAn International, the global arm of the five-year-old company created by $200 billion insurance giant Ping An and internet firms Tencent and Alibaba. The ZongAn business is widely-heralded as China’s first digital insurance company. Its insurance products cover lifestyle, consumer finance, health, travel and automotive, and it went public last September in a Hong Kong IPO that raised $1.5 billion. ZhongAn International was created in December of last year to scout out overseas opportunities.

Despite impressive credentials and a trailblazing business, it hasn’t been smooth sailing.

Disappointing financial results — which center around hefty fees paid to online platforms that give it distribution — have seen the value of ZhongAn shares nosedive. The current price of HKD35.55 is down on the HK$59.70 IPO price, and a far cry from a peak HKD 93.65 back in October.

Aside from adding the support of a major name — SoftBank’s Vision Fund is easily the largest tech investment firm in the world, with a $90 billion-plus purse — this investment might give cause for optimism. Alongside the investment, ZongAn International is creating a new entity in partnership with SoftBank that will be dedicated to “exploring international opportunities.”

More specifically, SoftBank plans to use ZongAn’s technology and its network to expand to “multiple markets” in Asia, although it isn’t specific about which countries or a timeframe for the potential launches.

“We are pleased to announce this partnership which will allow us to explore new and innovative ways to serve more companies and customers outside of China. SoftBank is an important business partner and we believe this collaboration will significantly boost our technology solutions businesses,” said ZhongAn Online CEO Jeffrey Chen in a statement.

The deal, and joint entity, signifies a growing trend of SoftBank becoming operationally involved in investments with companies that are looking at overseas growth opportunities.

SoftBank inked a joint-venture with Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing to launch a taxi-booking service in Japan. While it has also announced a JV to bring Indian payment service Paytm to Japan. Both companies are long-term investments for SoftBank, but SoftBank believes its experience and network can help them navigate international waters. The same thinking applies to the ZhongAn deal although it appears that the partnership is shooting for more than just Japan.


Source: TechCrunch

Logitech's MX Vertical mouse aims for wrist comfort – CNET

The $99 mouse is designed with ergonomics in mind, but it’s not a perfect solution for every desk.
Source: CNET

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