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As the FDA moves to ban most flavored e-cigs sold in stores, Juul pushes back harder on copycats

As the FDA moves to ban most flavored e-cigs sold in stores, Juul pushes back harder on copycats Love Juul or hate it, you can probably appreciate why the e-cigarette company is frustrated. It has grown like gangbusters since the first Juul vaporizer was introduced in...

How to transfer photos to an iPad

How to transfer photos to an iPad iPad screens are great for looking at your favourite photos. Here's how to use Photo Stream, AirDrop or iTunes to get snaps from an iPhone, Mac or camera to your Apple tablet How to transfer photos to an iPad Source: Mac World How...

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A closer look at Royole’s foldable display

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display You’d be forgiven if Royole doesn’t ring any bells. Even here China, it’s far from a household name. Still, the Shanghai-based startup recently secured an undisclosed Series E, vaulting its valuation to an apparent $5...

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out Brooks Rainwater Contributor Share on Twitter Brooks Rainwater is the director of the Center for City Solutions and Applied Research at the National League of Cities. More posts by this contributor As tasks wane,...

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site YouTube quietly added around 100 ad-supported Hollywood movies to its site, beginning last month, according to a new report from AdAge. The titles include a mix of classics like “Rocky” and “The Terminator,”...

iPhone battery replacement cost and deadline

iPhone battery replacement cost and deadline Here are the details of Apple's iPhone battery replacement scheme. Including how to get an iPhone 6 (or later) battery replacement, prices in the UK and US, when the dealine for getting Apple to replace the battery is, and...

Court filings accidentally reveal charges against Julian Assange

Court filings accidentally reveal charges against Julian Assange In a turn of events that reads like a plot point from an unreleased Coen Brothers script, information has surfaced revealing that prosecutors have charged embattled Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. The...

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display

You’d be forgiven if Royole doesn’t ring any bells. Even here China, it’s far from a household name. Still, the Shanghai-based startup recently secured an undisclosed Series E, vaulting its valuation to an apparent $5 billion, up from $3 billion in late 2016.

Founded in 2012, Royole’s best-known release was a wearable cinema display. That changed last month, however, when it surprised the industry by announcing the imminent arrival of the FlexPai, a flexible screen smartphone that appears on track to to beat the Samsung Galaxy X to market.

The FlexPai’s anticipated December release seemingly came out of nowhere. Like competitors, Royole had shown off its proprietary folding technology as part of a standalone demos, but it hadn’t teased the arrival of a smartphone until the device was ready to ship. It’s a far cry, certainly, from the not ready for prime time prototype Samsung marched out on stage last month.

At an event in Shenzhen, CEO Bill Liu told TechCrunch that the company was built around the desire to bring the technology to market. “We started from the flexible displays and flexible sensors,” he explained. “We started the company with a focus on the flexible displays and sensors. And then along the way, we realized this could be a huge application for the technology.”

A foldable smartphone was simply the first product that made sense for the underlying tech. With development dating back a half-dozen year, Royole was the first to achieved the industry’s long standing goal of delivering a foldable screen — beating even the massive Samsung to market.

Being first isn’t always a blessing in this industry, but it’s an impressive feat, nonetheless. The FlexPai is real. I can’t speak to the scalability of the product, until it actually starts shipping out next month, but I can attest to the fact that at least one of the things exists in the world. I held it in my hands. I folded it. It worked.

It’s a difficult problem and Royole solved it with in-house technologies. No one can take that away from the company. I can’t say my initial apprehensions were ultimately dissuaded, however. The FlexPai mostly works as desired, but the execution isn’t what ultimately the kind of premium product one would expect, given the ultra-premium price tag (around $1,300 American).

Liu happily dropped the phone a couple of times on stage, in an attempt to put to rest any durability question. While the display ultimately didn’t crack or scratch, the flexible material looks almost like cellophane and sports crinkles that catch the light — the clarity also leaves something to be desire.

As far as portability, it’s true that you can fold it up and stuff it in your pocket, though it’s pretty chunky when you do so. Ultimately, these are first generation products — and likely a result of a company pushing to be first to market, knowing full well that companies like Samsung were breathing down its neck.

Royole sees potential to license the technology out for other categories. “Right now for the smartphone industry, we haven’t done any licensing,” said Liu. “For industrial applications like automotive or media, we do have customers. We sell the licenses to them, and we’ve already sold a lot of licenses.”

The company will also be working with developers to create content for the new form factor, with a $30 million program it launched last month. The Chinese version is due out in December.

 

A closer look at Royole’s foldable display
Source: TechCrunch

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.”

Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like to ask a different question: How can cities build stronger start-up ecosystems for the Amazon yet to be built?

In September 2017, Amazon announced that it would seek a second headquarters. But rather than being the typical site selection process, this would become a highly publicized Hunger Games-esque scenario.

An RFP was proffered on what the company sought, and it included everything any good urbanist would want, with walkability, transportation and cultural characteristics on the docket. But of course, incentives were also high on the list.

Amazon could have been a transformational catalyst for a plethora of cities throughout the US, but instead, it chose two superstar cities: the number one and five metro areas by GDP which, combined, amounts to a nearly $2 trillion GDP. These two metro areas also have some of the highest real estate prices in the country, a swath of high paying jobs and of course power — financial and political — close at hand.

Perhaps the take-away for cities isn’t that we should all be so focused on hooking that big fish from afar, but instead that we should be growing it in our own waters. Amazon itself is a great example of this. It’s worth remembering that over the course of a quarter century, Amazon went from a garage in Seattle’s suburbs to consuming 16 percent — or 81 million square feet — of the city’s downtown. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest global technology company in 1994 (the year of Amazon’s birth) was Netscape, which no longer exists.

The upshot is that cities that rely only on attracting massive technology companies are usually too late.

At the National League of Cities, we think there are ways to expand the pie that don’t reinforce existing spatial inequalities. This is exactly the idea behind the launch of our city innovation ecosystems commitments process. With support from the Schmidt Futures Foundation, fifty cities, ranging from rural townships, college towns, and major metros, have joined with over 200 local partners and leveraged over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young businesses, leverage technology and expand STEM education and workforce training for all.

The investments these cities are making today may in fact be the precursor to some of the largest tech companies of the future.

With that idea in mind, here are eight cities that didn’t win HQ2 bids but are ensuring their cities will be prepared to create the next tranche of high-growth startups. 

Austin

Austin just built a medical school adjacent to a tier one research university, the University of Texas. It’s the first such project to be completed in America in over fifty years. To ensure the addition translates into economic opportunity for the city, Austin’s public, private and civic leaders have come together to create Capital City Innovation to launch the city’s first Innovation District at the new medical school. This will help expand the city’s already world class startup ecosystem into the health and wellness markets.

Baltimore

Baltimore is home to over $2 billion in academic research, ranking it third in the nation behind Boston and Philadelphia. In order to ensure everyone participates in the expanding research-based startup ecosystem, the city is transforming community recreation centers into maker and technology training centers to connect disadvantaged youth and families to new skills and careers in technology. The Rec-to-Tech Initiative will begin with community design sessions at four recreation centers, in partnership with the Digital Harbor Foundation, to create a feasibility study and implementation plan to review for further expansion.

Buffalo

The 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Center (BNMC) is home to eight academic institutions and hospitals and over 150 private technology and health companies. To ensure Buffalo’s startups reflect the diversity of its population, the Innovation Center at BNMC has just announced a new program to provide free space and mentorship to 10 high potential minority- and/or women-owned start-ups.

Denver

Like Seattle, real estate development in Denver is growing at a feverish rate. And while the growth is bringing new opportunity, the city is expanding faster than the workforce can keep pace. To ensure a sustainable growth trajectory, Denver has recruited the Next Generation City Builders to train students and retrain existing workers to fill high-demand jobs in architecture, design, construction and transportation. 

Providence

With a population of 180,000, Providence is home to eight higher education institutions – including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design – making it a hub for both technical and creative talent. The city of Providence, in collaboration with its higher education institutions and two hospital systems, has created a new public-private-university partnership, the Urban Innovation Partnership, to collectively contribute and support the city’s growing innovation economy. 

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh may have once been known as a steel town, but today it is a global mecca for robotics research, with over 4.5 times the national average robotics R&D within its borders. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is creating a more inclusive innovation economy through a Rec-to-Tech program that will re-invest in the city’s 10 recreational centers, connecting students and parents to the skills needed to participate in the economy of the future. 

Tampa

Tampa is already home to 30,000 technical and scientific consultant and computer design jobs — and that number is growing. To meet future demand and ensure the region has an inclusive growth strategy, the city of Tampa, with 13 university, civic and private sector partners, has announced “Future Innovators of Tampa Bay.” The new six-year initiative seeks to provide the opportunity for every one of the Tampa Bay Region’s 600,000 K-12 students to be trained in digital creativity, invention and entrepreneurship.

These eight cities help demonstrate the innovation we are seeing on the ground now, all throughout the country. The seeds of success have been planted with people, partnerships and public leadership at the fore. Perhaps they didn’t land HQ2 this time, but when we fast forward to 2038 — and the search for Argo AISparkCognition or Welltok’s new headquarters is well underway — the groundwork will have been laid for cities with strong ecosystems already in place to compete on an even playing field.

Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out
Source: TechCrunch

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site

YouTube quietly added around 100 ad-supported Hollywood movies to its site, beginning last month, according to a new report from AdAge. The titles include a mix of classics like “Rocky” and “The Terminator,” as well as other family fare like “Zookeeper,” “Agent Cody Banks,” and “Legally Blonde,” among others.

Before, YouTube had only offered consumers the ability to purchase movies and TV shows, similar to how you can rent or buy content from Apple’s iTunes or Amazon Video.

Currently, YouTube is serving ads on these free movies, but the report said the company is open to working out other deals with advertisers – like sponsorships or exclusive screenings.

YouTube’s advantage in this space, compared with some others, is its sizable user base of 1.9 million monthly active users and its ability to target ads using data from Google .

The addition of a an ad-supported movies marketplace on YouTube follows Roku’s entry into this market, which began last year with the launch of its free collection of movies, called The Roku Channel.

This year, Roku has been expanding the type of content on that channel to also include things like live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and The Young Turks, and – more recently – entertainment and live sports. 

Walmart also offers its own free movies collection through Vudu, and recently teamed up with MGM on original content for the service. Tubi operates a streaming service with free, ad-supported content, too. And Amazon is rumored to be working on something similar.

 

 

YouTube quietly added free, ad-supported movies to its site
Source: TechCrunch

iPhone battery replacement cost and deadline

iPhone battery replacement cost and deadline

Here are the details of Apple’s iPhone battery replacement scheme. Including how to get an iPhone 6 (or later) battery replacement, prices in the UK and US, when the dealine for getting Apple to replace the battery is, and how to get a refund if you already had the battery replaced…
iPhone battery replacement cost and deadline
Source: Mac World How To

Court filings accidentally reveal charges against Julian Assange

Court filings accidentally reveal charges against Julian Assange

In a turn of events that reads like a plot point from an unreleased Coen Brothers script, information has surfaced revealing that prosecutors have charged embattled Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

The information came to light as part of the recently unsealed filing of a seemingly unrelated sex crimes case. How Assange’s name and fate appeared in those court documents is apparently anyone’s guess. Wikileaks, for one, is chalking the whole kerfuffle up to a “cut-and-paste error.”

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The three-page filing itself dates back to August, originating from the court of the Eastern District of Virginia. It was unsealed the following month, but hadn’t received much attention until now, when George Washington University faculty member Seamus Hughes stumbled upon an odd passage in the filing.

“[D]ue to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case,” the filing reads, “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

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Hughes suggested that the mention was a Freudian slip from someone who, “just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.” Ultimately, the truth of the matter seems much more unfortunate for Assange, who has been holed up in London’s Ecuadoran embassy.

“The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed,” Assange lawyer Barry Pollack told The New York Times. “The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”

The charges could ultimately have additional cascading effects, impacting other major cases including Robert Mueller’s on-going investigation into the 2016 election.

Court filings accidentally reveal charges against Julian Assange
Source: TechCrunch

Snap up a spectator ticket to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018

Snap up a spectator ticket to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018

Don’t miss your chance to bear witness as a cohort of sub-Saharan Africa’s exceptional entrepreneurs launch their early-stage tech startups to the world. Startup Battlefield Africa 2018, our premier pitch competition, takes place on 11 December in Lagos, Nigeria.

Join us to cheer on the competitors and enjoy a series of outstanding panel discussions from the region’s top tech and VC leaders. Spectator tickets cost $10 + VAT — they’re going fast, so grab your tickets today.

With more than 300 technology hubs connecting entrepreneurs across Africa, the continent’s startup scene continues to evolve and grow rapidly, which makes it an exciting time and place to be an early-stage startup founder or investor. That’s why — in addition to the Startup Battlefield competition — we’ve added exciting panel discussions to this action-packed day. We recruited a slate of experts to share their insight, discuss emerging trends and talk about what it takes to succeed in Africa’s diverse startup ecosystem.

You’ll hear from leading founders and investors alike. Here’s a sample of what to expect, and be sure to check out the full list of speakers.

  • Chris Folayan, the founder and CEO of Mall for Africa, a global economy e-commerce infrastructure company that lets Africans buy directly from international online retailers in the U.S. and Europe, as well as local online retailers in Africa
  • Nichole Yembra, chief financial, risk and investment officer for Venture Garden Group (VGG) and a managing partner at GreenHouse Capital
  • Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, co-founder at SureGifts, a Nigeria-based gift card retailer and technology provider

Of course, Startup Battlefield is the star of the show, and here’s a brief rundown of how it works. The format consists of three preliminary rounds with up to five startups going head-to-head in each round. Teams have just six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of judges consisting of top tech founders and VCs. Following each pitch, the judges get six minutes to ask in-depth questions.

No more than five teams move to the finals, where they’ll pitch again to a new set of judges — and answer a second round of Q&A. The judges confer and select one outstanding startup as the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 champion. The winning founders receive US$25,000 in no-equity cash, plus a trip for two to compete in Startup Battlefield in San Francisco at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

The TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 action takes place in Lagos, Nigeria on 11 December. Tickets are limited; when they’re gone, you’re out of luck. Buy your spectator ticket today. We can’t wait to see you in Lagos!

Snap up a spectator ticket to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018
Source: TechCrunch

Loans marketplace Mintos scores €5M Series A and plans to launch a debit card

Loans marketplace Mintos scores €5M Series A and plans to launch a debit card

Mintos, the Latvian fintech that operates a global loans marketplace to let you invest in loans from various loan originators, has raised €5 million in Series A funding. Backing the startup once again is the Riga-based venture capital firm Grumpy Investments (previously known as Skillion Ventures). More noteworthy, the new capital will be used to launch a Mintos banking account and debit card, significantly expanding the company’s offering.

“Both banking account and the card in our opinion is a natural step in our journey of revolutionising financial services through technology and serving our investors and will nicely complement our current offering of investments in loans, and low-fee mid-market rate currency exchange,” Mintos co-founder and CEO Martins Sulte tells me. “This development also means that, theoretically, our investors won’t need their banks anymore”.

The Mintos banking account will act like any other IBAN account. You’ll be able to receive a salary into your Mintos account, use it to get paid by companies, or receive money from friends. And of course you’ll be able to transfer money out of your Mintos account, just like a regular bank account.

Sulte says the idea behind plans to launch a Mintos banking account, and the reason why the company is applying for a European e-money license, is to improve the overall Mintos experience. This includes making it quicker to access money generated by the loans you have invested in (which is held by Mintos on your behalf) and easier to invest on a regular basis.

“The card will allow investors to access the money they hold on the Mintos account instantly by paying at their local grocery shop or online or withdrawing money at ATMs; basically use the card like any other bank card,” he says. “They will no longer need to request a withdrawal from the platform to their bank account and wait up to two days for their money to arrive”.

The fintech startup claims a customer base of 87,000 investors from 71 different countries. In addition to launching the Mintos banking account, the company will use the additional funding for further geographical expansion, including Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia). It will also invest in acquiring more customers, and significantly expanding the size of its 60 person team. Notably, Mintos has been profitable since January 2017.

To the end, the fintech company says it has already facilitated more than €1 billion in investments in loans through its marketplace since launching in 2005. It says Investors in total have earned €26.7 million in interest through loans to individuals and businesses and have attained an average net return of nearly 12 percent.

Loans marketplace Mintos scores €5M Series A and plans to launch a debit card
Source: TechCrunch

How to use the iPhone XS

How to use the iPhone XS

The iPhone XS hasn’t got a Home button! Here’s how to unlock (or turn off) your device, turn on Siri, use Apple Pay, enter DFU mode, take screenshots and use all the other Home button-related functions on the X-series iPhones
How to use the iPhone XS
Source: Mac World How To

11/11 shows biometrics are the norm for payments in China

11/11 shows biometrics are the norm for payments in China

Chinese consumers were quick to adopt digital payments, and a recent shopping binge showed they are ready for another leap: biometric payments.

On November 11, Alibaba wrapped up Singles’ Day – the world’s largest shopping event – and hauled in $30.8 billion in total transactions, a staggering amount bigger than Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined.

Instead of frantically inputting payment passwords to grab deals, Chinese users jumped on new technologies to shop in the blink of an eye. This year, 60.3 percent of Singles’ Day customers paid either by scanning their fingerprint or taking a selfie.

That’s according to Alipay as it collected the data for the first time. The Alibaba affiliate digital wallet handles online and offline transactions for 870 million users around the world and its close rival WeChat Pay, the payment method that runs on Tencent’s popular chat app, is on a par at over 800 million.

Both are racing towards a future of seamless payment. Alipay debuted pay-by-fingerprint back in September 2014. In less than a year, WeChat Pay announced its own. Over time Chinese shoppers got themselves familiar with biometric verification, using it to unlock smartphones and enter office buildings. By 2016, around 95 percent of the people surveyed by China’s Payment and Clearing Association said they “knew about” fingerprint recognition.

The more sophisticated selfie-taking method soon followed. Last year, Alipay rolled out a smile-to-pay scheme at a KFC store in Hangzhou, home to Alibaba and Alipay, and has since then launched face recognition verification for a wide range of offline scenarios, including delivery pickup.

alipay alibaba face recognition

Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial lets users scan faces to pick up deliveries. / Source: Alibaba

The government has also been swift to leverage face recognition for other purposes. A well-known example is its alliance with the world’s highest-valued AI company SenseTime to develop China’s national surveillance system that can, for instance, track down criminals on streets.

Chinese people are getting in on unique-to-my-body authentification fast. In 2016, just above 70 percent users were comfortable with paying with their biometric information, according to the CPCA survey. In 2017, the ratio jumped to 85 percent.

This fast adoption also raises issues. In 2016, half of the respondents from the survey expressed security concerns over using biometrics payments. In 2017, 70 percent said they were worried. That same year, 77.1 percent cited privacy as another concern, up from just under 70 percent a year ago.

11/11 shows biometrics are the norm for payments in China
Source: TechCrunch

The Ceph storage project gets a dedicated open-source foundation

The Ceph storage project gets a dedicated open-source foundation

Ceph is an open source technology for distributed storage that gets very little public attention but that provides the underlying storage services for many of the world’s largest container and OpenStack deployments. It’s used by financial institutions like Bloomberg and Fidelity, cloud service providers like Rackspace and Linode, telcos like Deutsche Telekom, car manufacturers like BMW and software firms like SAP and Salesforce.

These days, you can’t have a successful open source project without setting up a foundation that manages the many diverging interests of the community and so it’s maybe no surprise that Ceph is now getting its own foundation. Like so many other projects, the Ceph Foundation will be hosted by the Linux Foundation.

“While early public cloud providers popularized self-service storage infrastructure, Ceph brings the same set of capabilities to service providers, enterprises, and individuals alike, with the power of a robust development and user community to drive future innovation in the storage space,” writes Sage Weil, Ceph co-creator, project leader, and chief architect at Red Hat for Ceph. “Today’s launch of the Ceph Foundation is a testament to the strength of a diverse open source community coming together to address the explosive growth in data storage and services.”

Given its broad adoption, it’s also no surprise that there’s a wide-ranging list of founding members. These include Amihan Global, Canonical, CERN, China Mobile, Digital Ocean, Intel, ProphetStor Data Service, OVH Hosting Red Hat, SoftIron, SUSE, Western Digital, XSKY Data Technology and ZTE. It’s worth noting that many of these founding members were already part of the slightly less formal Ceph Community Advisory Board.

“Ceph has a long track record of success what it comes to helping organizations with effectively managing high growth and expand data storage demands,” said Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation. “Under the Linux Foundation, the Ceph Foundation will be able to harness investments from a much broader group to help support the infrastructure needed to continue the success and stability of the Ceph ecosystem.”

cepha and linux foundation logo

Ceph is an important building block for vendors who build both OpenStack- and container-based platforms. Indeed, two-thirds of OpenStack users rely on Ceph and it’s a core part of Rook, a Cloud Native Computing Foundation project that makes it easier to build storage services for Kubernetes-based applications. As such, Ceph straddles many different worlds and it makes sense for the project to gets its own neutral foundation now, though I can’t help but think that the OpenStack Foundation would’ve also liked to host the project.

Today’s announcement comes only days after the Linux Foundation also announced that it is now hosting the GraphQL Foundation.

The Ceph storage project gets a dedicated open-source foundation
Source: TechCrunch