Google Adds Notification Center And Rich Notifications To Chrome Beta 28, Will Work Even When The Browser Is Closed
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 19:48
This isn’t exactly the launch of Google Now for the desktop, which many of us have been patiently waiting for, but Google today announced that it is bringing a richer notifications experience to Chrome, starting with the latest beta. This definitely feels like it brings Google Now yet another step closer to the desktop.
These new notifications, which developers can easily add to their own Chrome packaged apps and extensions, will pop up outside of the browser window and live in a center outside of the browser, so users will be able to receive notifications, even if the browser is not open.
This feature is now available for Windows and Chrome OS users. Google says it’s coming to OS X and Linux “soon.”
Chrome, of course, already features basic web notifications (and if you’re a Chrome and Google Apps user, you’ve probably seen them from services like Gmail). These rich notifications go a step further, though, as developers can add their own full-bleed icons, images, headlines and short messages to them. Developers can also decide for how long notifications should stay on the screen by specifying different priorities for each alert.
The new notification center will be available through the Windows system tray or from the Chrome OS launcher.
Last week, Google also announced its new Cloud Messaging for Chrome push notification service. While Google doesn’t mention them in today’s announcement, there is no reason why those push notifications couldn’t soon arrive in the new notifications center, too.
You can find a full changelog of what’s new in Chrome 28 here.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 19:44
Score one for technology: Doctors 3D-printed an emergency airway tube that saved a 20-month old baby boy’s life. After imaging the boy’s faulty windpipe, doctors at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital printed 100 tiny tubes and laser-stitched them together over the trachea (video below).
“Quite a few of the doctors said that he had a good chance of not leaving the hospital alive,” said the mother of the baby boy, who suffered from a severe version of tracheobronchomalacia, causing his bronchus to collapse.
Desperate for a solution, the doctors obtained emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to surgically sew the 3D-printed splint on the child’s airway. “It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK,” said University of Michigan Professor Dr. Glenn Green, who came up with save-saving solution, with his partner Dr. Scott Hollister.
“The material we used is a nice choice for this. It takes about two to three years for the trachea to remodel and grow into a healthy state, and that’s about how long this material will take to dissolve into the body,” added Hollister.
Considering that most of the news around 3D printers has been about lethal, undetectable firearms, it’s nice to know that people are also using humanity’s newly found technological powers for good.
Catégories: News informatiques
Imonomy Raises $400K Seed For Its Visual Semantic Software That Adds Relevant Photos To Publishers' Websites, Monetised With Ads
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 19:30
Imonomy, an Israeli startup which makes software that analyses webpages and automatically inserts relevant, copyright-free images to accompany the content, has closed a $400,000 seed round from a group of angel investors. Investors include Inon Axel, former CEO of Kasamba (acquired by LivePerson for $40m), Liron Rose, cofounder of AfterDownload (acquired by ironSource for $28m), and Itai Levitan and Tal Shaked, partners at AfterDownload.
Imonomy said it will be using the new seed funding for product development and initial marketing and sales activities.
The startup was founded in the middle of last year by Oren Dror and Amit Halawa who previously held senior R&D and engineering positions at Yedda, an online Q&A service that was acquired by TechCrunch’s parent company AOL, back in 2007.
Imonomy targets its software at smaller-sized web publishers who have a pool of online content but don’t necessarily have the means to spice it up with illustrations — either lacking the production staff to spend the time hunting down royalty free images or the licensing money to pay to display copyrighted images. Imonomy says its semantic software is being used by more than 500 medium-sized websites (with up to 10 million monthly impressions) at present, including AOL Answers and Articles Base.
Imonomy’s software scans web content to figure out relevant images to serve up from its database of copyright-free images, and also determines the optimal place to position them on the page to improve user engagement. Inserted images support hover over links to other articles and also displaying ads, giving publishers (and Imonomy) a way to monetise the added eyecandy. It’s effectively a more aesthetic version of inline text link ads.
“The idea behind Imonomy is that publishers of content-heavy web sites need to tools to help their sites be visibly attractive,” the startup tells TechCrunch. “High quality copyright-free images are hard to come by and the time and effort required to locate such pictures is a hassle. Imonomy created its content enrichment and monetization system to automate this process in order to help publishers save time, improve user engagement and create monetization opportunities.”
Here’s how it describes its system on its website:
Our database contains millions of images that cover every possible topic. Our system scans your webpage, finds the best fitting image and automatically insert them into the published page. Thus making content more interesting and informative. Our technology brings our customers greater user engagement and lower bounce rates, which has been in proven to result in significantly increased revenues. imonomy also creates intelligent links between pages, which encourages visitors to easily navigate to additional relevant content. The visual semantic engine can be implemented easily on any website, and we also provide a free API that expands the functionality and the systems abilities.
In terms of competition, Imonomy concedes there are “numerous content enrichment tools” out there — name-checking the likes of OutBrain, Zemanta and GumGum — but argues that its approach is unique because it’s bundling “content enrichment and monetization opportunities in a single automated process to publishers for free”.
It’s not charging for use of its technology, instead it has a freemium model, tied to the ads that are inserted along with the images — sharing this revenue with its publisher customers so also taking a cut itself. Its revenue-sharing percentage depends on the size of the publisher and the volume of traffic on its website. But for larger sites with more impressions it takes a lower percentage than for smaller, less well visited sites. The startup added that it expects to be profitable by the end of the year.
An example of an added image plus ad powered by Imonomy’s engine is shown below:
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 19:30
Toronto-based startup MyShoebox is facing a time in which photo sharing announcements are thick and deep; Google unveiled its updated Google+ photos experience last week at I/O, and this week we seen pretty big announcements from Yahoo! around Flickr. Does that intimate MyShoebox, a photo-focused startup launching its version 2.0 product on the tail of those bits of news? Not really, says MyShoebox founder and CEO Steve Cosman.
MyShoebox is a service that scans a user’s entire offline photo collection, uploads it to cloud storage and applies organization algorithms to automatically categorize pics and provide different ways of viewing them. The cloud-based computational stuff is similar to what Google unveiled last week, though Google’s product is more advanced in terms of being able to identify “keeper” shots and automatically enhance uploads, but Cosman says his company isn’t worried about lagging behind giants like Google in terms of computational power.
“I’m envious of the tech they’ve got,” he said in an interview. “We’re not about to catch up to Google in terms of cloud computational power and sophistication… [but] it’s much more interesting when you apply it to 10,000 photos than to the ones you upload piecemeal. If your photos are still sitting on the hard drive, there’s not much you can do with cloud computing editing tricks.”
MyShoebox’s strength is in getting the pictures from storage and sources that aren’t connected, to the web, as quickly and painlessly as possible. It’s a shotgun, not a scalpel, and it’s very good at what it does. Now, the version 2.0 update introduces features that make that wide-cast net even wider, since it allows for sharing with friends and family. The new Shared Gallery feature means you can swap photos with small groups of friends, each dumping into the same pool. Cosman says that where you’d normally only get the one or two photos with you in it your friend chooses to upload, with this new system you’ll end up with thousands of photos added to your collection. His own nearly doubled when beta testing this feature, he says.
Also new with this update is a dedicated iPad app, as well as rebuilt mobile apps for browsing your uploaded photo collection. The whole point of the update has been on taking the MVP that MyShoebox launched back in October, which saw tremendous demand, and bring it up to a level of performance that could better wow users. Cosman says that interest and engagement continues to be consistently high for MyShoebox, but says we’ll have to wait a while longer for updated hard numbers on its user base.
The company may be a small fish in a big pond, but it’s looking to be the service that’s first to solve the problem of not what to do with your photos once they’re online, but the one that gets them there in the first place. That will put it in a perfect position to leverage the cloud computing tricks that are making photo editing and sharing great once they’re there, Cosman believes.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 19:11
Today a TechStars-backed company is launching out of private beta and into the App Store in an attempt to bring the Utopian notion of a barterer’s lifestyle to fruition. Bondsy, founded by a long-haired, bearded, and Brazilian Diego Zambrano, lets users trade anything they own for anything their network has to offer.
When you first sign up, you’re asked to give permissions to Twitter and Facebook and you instantly dive into a stream of your friends’ trade-worthy items. These can be things like tickets, an old bicycle, access to your home while you’re away for the week, herbs from your garden, or really anything you’re looking to get rid of.
Zambrano told me over coffee that he once traded some left-over chili to a couple of friends once. See, Bondsy only lets you trade with friends and friends-of-friends, with the ability to designate a certain item to one or both groups. You can even designate different prices for friends as opposed to the outlying network.
Let’s say I’m getting rid of my old dresser. I can ask for $200 from friends-of-friends, and “Let’s talk…” for friends, meaning I’d be open to negotiating a fair offer or giving them a discounted price.
See, Bondsy encourages you to trade things that aren’t necessarily of monetary value, since the network is only people who you know. Because friendship is baked right in, the actual transaction feels less like a chore and more like meeting up with a friend. And there’s already a topic of conversation on the table in the form of the things you’re trading.
This also means that tradable items are more likely to be favors, baked goods, and experience-based than money-based.
You can choose to flip through the stream of your friends’ items or see the entire friend-of-friend network, and the same social features that you see on other stream-based sharing sites still apply. On Bondsy, you can repost an item if your friends will be interested in it, and you can even cc particular friends in the comment with an @mention.
Bondsy is available now in the iOS App Store.
Catégories: News informatiques
Google Takes Street View Trekker And Underwater Cameras To The Galapagos Islands, Coming To Google Maps Later This Year
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 18:33
Google today announced that it has been taking its Street View Trekker – the compact backpack version of its Street View cars – and its underwater Street View cameras to the Galapagos Islands and that it plans to make these images available on Google Maps later this year. The company worked together with the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Galapagos National Parks Directorate and, for the underwater survey, the Catlin Seaview Survey.
The Street View team, Google says, spent 10 days in the Galapagos to capture imagery from 10 locations that were selected by its partners. During these hikes, Google Maps project lead Raleigh Seamster says, the team “walked past giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, navigated through steep trails and lava fields, and picked our way down the crater of an active volcano called Sierra Negra.”
Google, of course, has been taking the Trekker across the world already and most recently hiked around the Grand Canyon to take enough images for over 9,500 panoramas there and handed it over to a local hiker to get imagery of Canada’s Arctic territory.
The underwater part of the project, however, is maybe even more impressive. As Google revealed at I/O last week, the Catlin Seaview Survey currently has four underwater Street View cameras and its diver can cover about 2km during a single dive.
The Galapagos expedition, Seamster noted in today’s announcement, marks the first time the team has captured imagery from both land and sea at the same time.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 18:29
Barely a month or two after launching the Y Combinator-backed photo-sharing service Popset, the team realized they were solving the wrong problem. Users weren’t struggling to share their photos with groups; they needed tools to help them organize and manage their photo libraries across a variety of platforms and services. So the company decided to change its course, and today it’s announcing what it has in store: Loom, a cloud storage and syncing service that’s like a better alternative to iCloud.
“People were requesting features and giving us feedback that caught our attention,” explains Popset and now Loom co-founder Jan Senderek. After interviewing hundreds of users over a month’s time, the founders had a better idea of what its user base wanted. People told the team of their awful routines for managing photos – backing them from iPhones to external hard drives, having to sync them through iTunes, how quickly the photos ate up precious disk space on their portable devices and MacBook SSD drives, and so on.
“There are so many thing that are wrong, and it’s kind of obvious how to solve that – by simply putting everything in the cloud and making it accessible to you on all your devices,” says Senderek.
That, of course, is the promise of Apple’s iCloud. But it doesn’t seem to work as well as it should.
In recent months, Apple users and developers have become increasingly frustrated with iCloud, which has proved to be difficult, buggy, and confusing to end users.
“People don’t really understand iCloud. They don’t understand what Photostream is or how it works,” Senderek explains. “It actually makes the problem worse.” Photostream, which saves the last 1,000 photos on your device, appears like a separate album, which also confuses some users.
The team, which also includes co-founders Philipp Wein and Daniel Wagner, realized they had a choice to make. They could either double-down on Popset or respond to the problems users wanted fixed with a whole new product.
They chose the latter.
Popset users were notified at the beginning of this month that the service would be closing in June, and were offered a downloadable .zip file of the photos they had shared.
The new product, Loom, puts all your photos and videos in the cloud, allowing you to empty your Camera Roll and reclaim lost disk space. Designed to replace the native Photos app, Loom instead uses smart technology to intelligently cache photos and videos based on the size of the device that you’re using. In other words, if you’re snapping high-def photos with your 16 GB iPhone 5, you don’t really need the full resolution version of those photos in order to enjoy them on the small screen, or share them with others.
Loom also works even when it doesn’t have a network connection – like Apple’s own Photos app does. It will just sync everything you do while offline once the device is connected again. And it will support some of Popset’s old feature set around album creation and sharing.
Also like iCloud, media stored in Loom will be available on all your devices. A developer API will be available, too.
Initially, the service will work on iPhone, iPad, Mac and web, but the plan is to bring the technology to Android as well, where it will be able to more deeply integrate with the operating system. In addition, photos and videos are only the beginning – the long-term plan is to support other file types including documents, music, audio, TV and movies.
Though Loom is offering something that solves a problem for many, if it goes the freemium route as it’s now intending to do, it will be up against several services with competitive pricing in terms of photo sync and storage. Facebook, Google, Flickr and even Shutterfly are offering photo upload (even automatic upload) and hosting, either entirely free or with large enough free tiers to make their services the better option for those watching their budget.
But Loom also has another interesting idea for making money – if users ever wanted to download their entire photo archive, Loom could send them either a link to download, or as an additional paid option, send them an external hard drive filled with their media.
Pricing details, however, are not yet available.
Loom is opening up its private beta in about a month. TechCrunch readers who sign up here will be able to get into the first batch which is limited to 1,000 users.
The San Francisco-based startup, now a team of eight, had already raised additional funding for Loom shortly after Popset’s launch. An additional seed round is also closing soon.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 18:23
LoyalBlocks, a startup that makes a mobile-focused technology platform for brick-and-mortar businesses looking to encourage customer loyalty, has raised $9 million in new funding.
The round, which serves as LoyalBlocks’ Series A, was led by General Catalyst Partners with participation from Founder Collective and existing investor Gemini Israel Ventures. This brings the total investment into LoyalBlocks to $12.2 million. As part of the funding, General Catalyst’s Adam Valkin, who joined General Catalyst from Accel Ventures late last year, will join LoyalBlocks’ board.
LoyalBlocks, which is headquartered in New York City and has its engineering operations in Israel, says it will use the new funds to further scale out its operations throughout the United States — at the moment, it’s got a solid foothold with over 1500 locations using the platform, CEO Ido Gaver tells me. The company has a full-time staff of 18 that could also grow with the new funds.
LoyalBlocks is essentially a platform that lets small brick-and-mortar businesses easily create their own customized app experience to give incentive for customers to spend more money and make return visits — it’s like a modern version of the old fashioned punch-cards and reward cards handed out by small businesses of yore (or, well, 10 years ago.) LoyalBlocks turns a business owner’s venue into an “automated zone” that lets companies interact with customers as soon as it detects that they walk through the door, by sending them offers and promotions automatically.
Of course, there are many other players that have emerged in this space over the past several years, taking hold in certain regions and eyeing expansion to take the larger market. LoyalBlocks is in part differentiated by the fact that there’s an intellectual property play here, too. LoyalBlocks says it has the “only patented technology that enables automated hand-free punch cards and customer rewards.” It will be interesting to see which ones end up dominating as the next-generation customer loyalty space evolves.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 18:22
The U.S. House of Representatives just released its own version of a high-skilled immigration reform bill and is actively seeking input through the collective IQ of the Internet. House Oversight Chairman and one of our Most Innovative People in Democracy, Darrell Issa, has placed the Supplying Knowledge-Based Immigrants And Lifting Levels of STEM (SKILLS) Visas Act on his very own public markup utility, Project Madison (we partnered with Issa’s nonprofit, the Open Government Foundation and have integrated it into our CrunchGov site).
Details Of The New Bill
A few important details about the bill that took an admirable bit of linguistic gymnastics to come up with a title to fit that obviously pre-determined acronym. (U.S. government 101: in order to become law, both the House and the Senate will have to combine their bills. The details below are the important differences between the House and the Senate).
1). SKILLS is a net neutral green card allotment system; the 120,000 high-skilled visas are reached by cutting out the diversity visa program and the 65,000 green cards for siblings (unlike the Senate version). It also increases 25,000 green card visas for spouses and children.
2). Expands the the foreign worker visa (H1-B) cap from 65,000 to 155,000 (about 30K more than the Senate).
3. Allots up to 10,000 startup-visa cards. Right now, immigrants are tethered to a sponsoring employee, which has prevented brilliant workers from striking out on their own. Immigrants are eligible so long as they can create 5 American jobs and have at least $500,000 in investment.
4. Attempts to get rid of abuse in the H1-B system by allowing the federal government to audit businesses and requires that they give immigrants a prevailing market wage.
How to Contribute
Issa is seeking your brilliant ideas! His staff helped create the historic crowdsourcing platform and will be actively looking at your recommendations. Head over to our version of the public markup utility here.
There are (very simple) instructions about how to get started. On Project Madison, you can amend the SKILLS act line-by-line and vote up the best suggestions.
We at CrunchGov love direct democracy and look forward to your contributions
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 18:04
At Google I/O last week, Google announced that its Google App Engine High Replication Datastore (HRD) – its schemaless object data storage service – currently processes over 4.5 trillion transactions per month, has an uptime of 99.95 percent and stores over a petabyte of data. Today, the company announced that it is dramatically reducing the pricing for some Datastore features. Storing a gigabyte of data previously cost $0.24 per month, but the company has now reduced this price to just $0.18 per month.
In addition, Google is also reducing the prices for read and write operations on the service. Write operations now cost $0.09 per 100,000 operations (previously $0.10) and read operations cost $0.06 per 100,000 operations (previously $0.07).
The High Replication Datastore automatically replicates data across multiple Google data centers to ensure that it’s always available. Before launching its HRD solution in 2011, Google previously offered a more traditional Master/Slave replication topology, but this old system has been deprecated since 2012.
Google’s HRD also forms the basis of its newly announced Cloud Datastore – a NoSQL database that’s currently in preview. Cloud Datastore’s pricing is currently coupled to App Engine’s pricing, so its users will see the same price reductions. Google also offers Cloud SQL for developers who need access to a more traditional relational database.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 18:00
It was almost one year ago (to the day!) that my colleague Kim Mai-Cutler wrote our first story on Lyft, and how the company was going to offer some lower-priced competition to on-demand ride leader Uber in San Francisco. Now, 366 days later, Lyft is celebrating the anniversary of that launch with some huge news: It’s raised a $60 million round of financing led by Andreessen Horowitz.
The new funding will give Lyft a huge shot in the arm as it plans to expand aggressively both in the U.S. and internationally, according to founder John Zimmer. And it will have Andreessen Horowitz to help, as a16z general partner Scott Weiss will be joining the board and the firm will be lending some of its operational experience to Lyft as it scales up.
“Andreessen Horowitz has demonstrated that they are the top VCs in the world to work alongside entrepreneurs and build real and established businesses,” Zimmer told me. “It’s great to work alongside someone like Scott, and Mark and Ben, who have built really large companies and are willing to roll up their sleeves and work alongside us.”
“This is why [Andreessen Horowitz] came together as an organizing principle. All of us have scaled companies,” Weiss said. As it pertains to Lyft and its growth moving forward: “Now it’s an execution play of bringing this out to the entire world. It’s about, ‘How do you bring in management talent and move faster than you thought you could?’ We’re going to put the full weight of the firm behind [Lyft] doing that.”
In addition to its new funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Lyft is also confirming a $15 million round led by Founders Fund, which we reported on earlier this year. Altogether, the company has raised a total of about $83 million since being founded as Zimride in 2007. Along with Weiss and founders Zimmer and Logan Green, the Lyft board of directors also includes Founders Fund principal Geoff Lewis, as well as Raj Kapoor, who had invested in the company as managing director of Mayfield Fund.30,000 Rides A Week
The funding comes as Lyft is already growing rapidly in all of its markets, including San Francisco, where it competes against ride share offerings from Uber and SideCar. There’s also growing adoption of taxi e-hail apps such as Flywheel and hybrid taxi-community app InstantCab. With mounting competition, Lyft has more than doubled its number of drivers in its launch market, and is still trying to keep up with demand.
The incredible growth that Lyft has shown is one thing that impressed Weiss and Andreessen, as they evaluated the company for investment. “Two months ago, they were doing 14,000 rides a week,” Weiss told me. “Now they’re doing 30,000 rides a week.”
Lyft is also seeing fast adoption in new markets. It launched service in Los Angeles in January, Seattle in March, and Chicago earlier this month. In each case, both the number of drivers and passengers who have signed on in the first several weeks of a new market has outpaced the market that preceded it.
With the new funding in place, Lyft plans to accelerate its expansion schedule. The company brought on Cherry co-founder Travis VanderZanden to lead operations and, with three or four launches under its belt, the team thinks it’s got its expansion playbook down. Lyft will be hiring in all aspects of its business — community, engineering, operations, and public policy — as it plans to scale globally. Yes, globally.Safety First
While it plans to expand into a number of new markets, the Lyft team recognizes that there will be challenges on the regulatory front as it attempts to get regulators on board with the idea of on-demand ride-sharing services. Competitor SideCar has faced regulatory scrutiny in a number of new markets that it has launched in, including Austin, Philadelphia, and New York City.
So how does Lyft plan to convince regulators that its service should be allowed to operate? Safety is key.
“I think this is the year for a lot of that [regulation] to get ironed out,” Zimmer told me. “Our approach is and always will be to work together with regulators and stress what’s important, which is safety. I think technology can actually get us to a safer place.”
For Lyft, that includes background checks and driver safety checks. But the company goes above and beyond that, trying to hire drivers who are actually, you know, friendly and nice to talk to. And, of course, it ties everything back to an identity layer, requiring all drivers and passengers to connect to a Facebook account. That helps to ensure that, even if something does go wrong, Lyft has a way to identify both parties in the case of a ride gone bad.
Weiss admits that requiring someone’s real identity through Facebook Connect could limit the potential market in some ways, but it also builds a required level of trust between driver and passenger. Breaking that trust barrier is necessary when you’re talking about peer-to-peer services, and Lyft appears to have succeeded. For instance, more than 50 percent of Lyft passengers are women, Weiss notes.
So far, its safety record is one of the main reasons that Lyft has won over regulators in jurisdictions like California. And it’s a key part of Lyft’s plan to get regulators in upcoming expansion markets to allow ride sharing in their cities.Airbnb for transportation?
Lyft has plenty of work ahead, Zimmer admits. But he’s confident that the company is on the right track to bring peer-to-peer rides to the world, and in doing so, fundamentally improve the transportation industry. About 80 percent of seats in cars are empty today, and Lyft wants to change that. The funding is just a small part of what will help get the company there, as Lyft is still on “page one” of a 100-page story, Zimmer says.
“For us, raising money is not what we set out to do,” Zimmer tells me. “We want to change the world and create a new form of transportation. Now we have all the ingredients we need to build out our community and make transportation more affordable and efficient.”
For Weiss, the idea of establishing a peer-to-peer marketplace around transportation was fundamentally different from what others in the space were doing and is part of what attracted him to Lyft’s model. “It wasn’t that Lyft was using smart phone technology to make existing transportation systems [like cabs and limos] better,” Weiss told me. “It was using the existing capacity of cars already on the road.”
The end result, they hope, will be a more efficient use of existing resources. In that way, Lyft reminds Weiss a whole lot of Airbnb, another company that Andreessen Horowitz made a big bet on. Will Lyft do to transportation what Airbnb did to the tourism and hospitality industry? Only time will tell, but the folks at Andreessen Horowitz sure hope so.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 17:51
For those who use Evernote as a to-do list application, the service just became more useful today with the launch of a much-requested feature: reminders. Available to both Evernote and Evernote Business users on Mac, iOS and web (to start), the option now appears as an alarm clock icon at the top-right of the note on Mac and web, and the bottom of the note on mobile (iPhone and iPad).
Though a seemingly minor addition, the feature actually addresses the top three user requests, Evenote’s VP of Marketing, Andrew Sinkov, explains in the official announcement about the release. Besides the reminders themselves, users wanted a way to more quickly created note-based to-do lists as well as pin notes to the top of their Note list. Now, all of these items are supported.
Reminders are simple to use – you just click the button, add a time and time, and then you’ll get both an in-app alarm as well as an optional email when a reminder is due. The note title will also appear in a new section at the top of your Note list, and you can reorganize Reminders by dragging them around. When the task is complete, you tap the check or, on iOS, swipe to remove the Reminder from your list.
Though everyday organizers will appreciate the addition, of course, the feature is also useful for Business users, and it’s supported in Evernote’s shared notebooks.
The end result turns a shared notebook into a something that’s sort of like a very basic project management utility. Evernote itself uses Reminders for the company’s Video Projects, Sinkov says. Reminders could also appeal as an alternative to the common hack of using Calendar appointments when all you really needed was a simple reminder, not a scheduled meeting.
Evernote makes a few other suggestions for Reminders which also see in encroaching more into the calendaring space, including birthday reminders and doctor’s appointments (with notes and questions attached), as well as packing checklists.
The company has been busy expanding its feature set designed for business users in recent months, having not only taken the app to new markets, including a localized version for China, but also enabling enterprise-ready options like a Business Library, Related Notes, and improved search. This new Reminders option is something personal and business users would both want, however.
Evernote is now working to bring the Reminders feature to other platforms, and expand its functionality in the future.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 17:20
Today TaskRabbit is launching a new set of tools in its three-month-old TaskRabbit for Business portal that are designed to help companies hire ongoing temporary workers for jobs that will span over multiple days, weeks, or months.
The TaskRabbit for Business portal launched in early March at South By Southwest, with the aim of helping companies there bring on staffers to help out over the course of the several-week festival. Since then, TaskRabbit for Business has emerged as the company’s fastest-growing segment of users, chief revenue officer Anne Raimondi told me in an interview this week, with 16,000 businesses signing up over the past several months. TaskRabbit now has 11,000 workers on its platform, 10 percent of whom use TaskRabbit as their sole source of income.
With the newly expanded features, now businesses in all nine markets throughout the US where TaskRabbit is active can use TaskRabbit for Business to bring on a W-2 employee for work that takes up more than 15 hours per week. TaskRabbit, which will take a 26 percent commission on all W-2 classified jobs (normal tasks charge a 20 percent fee), will handle all compliance paperwork, including payroll taxes, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Traditional temp agencies typically take a 40 to 60 percent commission, Raimondi says.
It’s a big launch for the 65-person TaskRabbit that puts it squarely into competition with a new set of companies — the temp hiring industry is estimated to be worth some $230 billion annually and is dominated by huge global firms such as Adecco and Manpower. But in a way, it’s a very natural evolution for TaskRabbit, Raimondi said.
“We built this out because it was the single biggest ask from our business users. Customers were already trying to do it on the site,” Raimondi said, pointing to TaskRabbit’s practice of running comprehensive background checks on all the people working in its system. “But the pieces that were missing were behind the scenes — paperwork processing, tax compliance, W2s, workers compensation, payroll, unemployment insurance, time sheeting.”
Temp jobs will appear in the same stream as regular tasks on the TaskRabbit dashboard, but with a small icon of a briefcase to designate that they’re for ongoing positions. There are some small changes with how errand runners will display interest in the positions — pulling in more detailed resume information from LinkedIn, writing a cover letter, and the like.
Small business task posting already accounts for 30 percent of the company’s sales, despite being a minority of the company’s users, Raimondi said. It stands to reason that making it easier for companies to do more things through TaskRabbit could allow the company to capture a bigger slice of the cash that goes back and forth in the business world. With enterprise hotter than ever, it’s no surprise to see startups that have made their names on the consumer front home in on the enterprise world as well. This could be a big boost for TaskRabbit’s revenue, if it all works out well.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 16:58
Remember how over a year ago, everyone was all excited about the forthcoming Pinterest API? CEO Ben Silbermann even teased its release in a March 2012 email to Pinterest users detailing a Terms of Service change. And API documentation even once popped up on the site, only later to lead to a 404? Well, don’t get all excited again, but the API documentation has returned…um, sorta.*
This week, when Pinterest announced support for more pin types (product, recipe, and movie pins) as well as a new Pin It button that works in mobile apps, it also launched a developer site at developers.pinterest.com. The company says the site will be the home to some of the existing documentation and resources that had previously lived on the Pinterest Business site, as well as the new information on the pins and the mobile Pin It button.
“Over time, as more tools become available to third parties, we will continue to post resources on this site,” a Pinterest spokesperson says.
New tools like that long-awaited API, perhaps?
Though not directly linked on the site itself, an easy guess at the URL structure led to this – http://developers.pinterest.com/api/ - a section which contains some half-written (if that) documentation about the Pinterest API. Details are limited, but the site speaks of a restful, JSON API and offers a couple of sections with very little additional info. (See screenshot below).
Previously, the company had been asking developers interested in an API to fill out the form here to “be one of the first to know when it’s ready.” However, several very interested developers tell us that they have yet to hear from Pinterest about the API or even the new Developer site itself, in fact.
* Of course, after asking Pinterest about this page, it disappeared. (The API page now redirects to the main Developers site). Sorry you can’t see it for yourself.
“We are still working on finishing up this page. It is currently not linked to from anywhere else on the site,” the spokesperson says. “We’re still working on some kinks and want to make all of the content and what’s available is great before releasing.”
This isn’t the first time API docs appeared on Pinterest’s homepage before disappearing, so this appearance alone doesn’t guarantee a timeframe for its arrival. But it’s promising.
Plus, Pinterest’s recent launch of richer pins and mobile buttons shows that the company is now moving forward with its plans to turn Pinterest into a platform. And an API is a necessary part of that longer-term goal, in order to enable developers to build rich, third-party apps on top of Pinterest’s service.
Catégories: News informatiques
JustFab Goes Up A Size In Europe, Acquires Fab Shoes To Take Its Fashion Subscription Service To France And Spain
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 16:46
JustFab, the subscription-based fashion commerce site, is putting the $109 million that it has raised so far to use: today it is announcing the acquisition of The Fab Shoes, a European e-commerce shoe club in France and Spain, to build out its global operations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal will give JustFab a stronger foothold in the European market: it already has operations in Germany, where it has a European HQ in Berlin, as well as in the UK; now it will be adding France and Spain, with the integrated site coming in July 2013. Growth in Europe has been coming at a fast pace for the company so far. In 2012, JustFab did $2 million in sales, co-founder and co-CEO Adam Goldenberg tells TechCrunch (he shares the CEO role with co-founder Don Resller). ”This year we are on track to exceed $30 million.” The Fab Shoes has slightly more than 500,000 users; combining that with the 1.5 million across Germany and the UK, JustFab will now have over 2 million members, with 15 million worldwide, and is on track to do $250 million in revenue globally ($215 million in the U.S.).
Call it a funny coincidence, but this isn’t the first acquisition JustFab has made of a would-be competitor with the word “Fab” in its name. Earlier this year, the company acquired FabKids to spearhead a move into children’s fashion. “We have a running joke that whoever is called ‘Fab’, we’ll buy them,” says CEO Adam Goldenberg. (And indeed that may not extend to the biggest Fab of all, Fab.com, which apparently is now raising a $250 million round at a $1 billion valuation.)
More seriously, Goldenberg says that his company is not singularly focused on buying up so-called “clones” of its own service. Taking a lesson from some of the challenges companies like Groupon have had digesting large, inorganic acquisitions to scale up their services — from what we understand Groupon has yet to migrate many of its extensive global assets on to a single common platform with the U.S. operation — JustFab has a different approach.
As Goldenberg describes it, the company’s M&A policy is based on acquiring smaller businesses that complement JustFab’s and are also built on the same subscription model. This means that they can be easily integrated into the bigger company’s infrastructure.
There is another reason for this: it’s increasingly a challenge for e-commerce fashion companies these days to raise money, with much of it going instead to those that have proven to have the most scale. “This is part of the reason why we raised such a big round last year,” Goldenberg noted. The Fab Shoes, founded in early 2012, was raising financing — or trying to — when JustFab came knocking.
“Scale and infrastructure are key if you want to grow quickly in the fashion business,” said Pablo Szefner, CEO of The Fab Shoes, in a statement. “While The Fab Shoes has had a lot of early success, we are thrilled to take our core business to the next level. With JustFab, we can provide our existing members and potential new customers with excellent styles, quality and service for an outstanding shopping experience.”
“We met Pablo and Xisco” — Pablo Szefner, CEO of The Fab Shoes and Xisco de la Calle, its COO — “and we decided this would be a great talent acquisition as well.” De la Calle will become the VP of operations for JustFab Europe, while Pablo becomes General Manager for France and Spain, overseeing 12 employees in Barcelona and Paris.
While some have waved a red flag over subscription-commerce sites — the implication being that they are not transparent enough about how they charge users on a regular basis — Goldenberg is insistent that this is a model that works well and is a hit with its customers, and investors. “There is a subscription commerce funding craze right now,” he says. “But because it is so low-cost you have to have the scale to make the economics of it work. We have millions of satisfied customers.”
Looking ahead, he says the company is planning to launch more products beyond the shoes that are the basis of the company’s model. In addition to childrens’ clothes that will go online in June, there is already denim and handbags that altogether make up about 30% of the company’s sales. And he hints that there will be another fashion category being launched later this year. “We’re building the next generation of H&M and Zara,” he says. Through all of that, “we’re staying entirely focused on subscription-based commerce.”
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 16:37
Twitter today made the latest push in its bid to cozy up to Madison Avenue and the world of big-budget advertising, by tapping more into the kind of mainstream mediums where advertisers like to spend their money. Today the big focus is TV and your living room. In New York, the company announced Twitter Amplify, a way of bringing real-time video into the site, with initial partners including the broadcasters BBC America, FOX, Fuse and The Weather Channel. And it also announced TV ad targeting, one of the first fruits of the company’s acquisition of BlueFin Labs.
Twitter ad targeting works like this: an advertiser or media buyer uses a special dashboard that Twitter has created for the service, which lets a brand monitor when an ad has aired on TV. Through this, the campaign manager can then send out Promoted Tweets that coordinate with them. They synchronise, Twitter says, using “video fingerprinting technology to automatically detect when and where a brand’s commercials are running on TV, without requiring that advertiser to do any manual tracking or upload media plan details,” Michael Fleischman, one of the co-founders of BlueFin Labs, and now a product manager for Twitter, notes in a blog post.
Through this, the advertiser is able to measure how socially responsive people are to the TV campaigns and vice versa. Using Twitter handles and hashtags on the TV ads will be how those advertisers shuttle people to the social network.
Twitter says it will be able to determine where and when an ad ran on TV, as well as track those who have subsequently tweeted about the ad and the TV program that it ran against. “We believe a user engaged enough with a TV show to tweet about it very likely saw the commercials as well,” the company notes on its blog.
The company is banking on a crucial stat as the leap of faith that this will all work: it says 64 percent of mobile-centric users on Twitter use it in front of the TV at home.
For now Twitter’s targeting service will be available only in the U.S.Broadcasting clips
Meanwhile, the instream broadcasting clips that are part of Twitter Amplify, starting with BBC America, FOX, Fuse and The Weather Channel, will be very closely tied to ads and video directly on the platform. This is something that Twitter has already been doing with partnerships with, for example, the NBA, where a video also features a link to an ad:
What’s interesting is that it looks like Twitter will be limiting use of this new kind of Twitter card to paying users, with Glenn Brown, director of promoted content and sponsorships, noting that they will be “powered by Promoted Tweets.” The idea appears to be that rather than replacing the TV experience (not yet at least!) these in-stream videos will be used as “spectacular, timely content that rounds out their TV experience or reminds them to tune in.” In other words, ways of getting people to the TV with teaser clips rather than simply offering them a way of seeing what they want on Twitter and cutting out the tube altogether.
Speaking at the New York event, CEO Dick Costolo talked about how the company has made advertising a more “frictionless” experience because of its emphasis of real-time updates. It’s clear that adding more broadcasting-like experiences into Twitter will further that concept.
Twitter has been making increasingly strong moves this year to get its platform to be more ad-friendly (and revenue-friendly). That kicked off in February with the launch of an advertising API so that larger advertisers can better manage their campaigns on Twitter; an improved advertising analytics dashboard; and Google AdWords-style keyword targeting (TC coverage here, here and here). Just earlier this week the company also unveiled the official launch of Lead Generation Cards, something Twitter had been testing for a while already, which lets advertisers include actions like requests for more information that users can get automatically by clicking a button in an advertising tweet. (You can see how this last one also sets the stage for Twitter making the leap into commerce, with one-click purchasing.)
While Twitter has not provided any official public guidance on how much it expects to make in advertising this year or in the future, there has been a lot of speculation about the number because many expect Twitter to go public, with a likely date in late 2013 or 2014, according to observers. A report from eMarketer in March noted that it was raising forecasts for the company to $583 million in 2013 and $950 million in ad sales in 2014, 60% coming from mobile.
The stats that Twitter’s president of global revenue, Adam Bain, provided last year shows just how much the company has grown over the last year. Bain noted at the time that Twitter had 140M+ active users; now that figure is estimated to be closer to 300 million.
Bain also had noted that 55% of users access Twitter on mobile, with 40% growth quarter over quarter, and that among Twitter’s active users, only some 60% actually tweet, but all of them “listen.” And in a sign that Twitter was always going to figure out a better way of leveraging ads on the platform, even a year ago, some 79% of people on the site were already following brands.
More to come.
Image: Jim Prosser
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 16:30
Another day, another acquisition by Yahoo.
Yahoo said this morning it’s acquired PlayerScale, a California-based startup that makes software infrastructure for cross-platform gaming. Financial details haven’t been disclosed.
PlayerScale, which was self-funded and cash-flow positive as of this past January, was founded in 2009. According to a VentureBeat article also from January, the company had a staff of 14. It’s not clear yet how many staff are involved and will be joining Yahoo — we’ve reached out for details and will update this with any information we receive. Update: Yahoo tells us that 7 people from PlayerScale are joining Yahoo as part of the transaction.
The four-year-old PlayerScale says its platform now has more than 150 million players, which marks significant growth from just this past January when our own Anthony Ha reported the platform had crossed the 100 million user line. For now this does not look like a straight acqui-hire situation, as both Yahoo and PlayerScale say the gaming platform will remain active post-acquisition and continue to be developed.
Here is a statement provided by Yahoo PR:
“The team has built an incredible gaming platform that is used by over 150 million players worldwide. We intend to continue to support and grow PlayerScale’s technology, and we look forward to building great new experiences on Yahoo! using the PlayerScale platform.”
“Today is a great day — both in our journey with PlayerScale and for users of our Player.IO product. We are happy to announce the next big step toward our goal of building the best possible gaming infrastructure platform: we have been acquired by Yahoo!. And don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere. Our platform will continue to support the same great games that you love playing today … and in fact, it will only get better from here!
Our goal has always been to help developers build the best possible games, without having to worry about building and scaling the infrastructure required to operate today’s biggest successes. In working with the folks at Yahoo!, it has become clear that we share this passion.
We have spent the past four years growing a three-person startup into a product that powers games played by over 150 million people worldwide and we are adding over 400,000 new users every day. In the last four months alone, we have increased our daily user growth rate by almost sixty percent. With Yahoo!’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before. We will continue to support our existing product and deliver new services to help you grow and manage your success in cross-platform gaming — whether it’s casual, social or mobile.
Today marks a milestone for PlayerScale and I want to sincerely thank the team, our developers and millions of users for the adventure so far and can promise there will be more to come.
- Jesper Jensen”
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 16:26
The Fedora Project has been supporting Raspberry Pi, the diminutive $35 computer, for some time. Today they’re making the Pidora “remix” of the core Fedora distribution available. Like the Raspbian distribution of Debian, Pidora is compiled specifically to take advantage of the hardware already built into the Raspberry Pi.
Pidora offers a couple of interesting little additions to your standard Fedora desktop experience. The reduced oomph of the RPi means that the full-blown GNOME desktop is replaced with the lighter-weight XFCE. Pidora also offers an easy-to-use headless mode for folks running without a monitor. If you attach speakers to your RPi, it’ll helpfully say out loud what it’s IP address is. Clever trick.
The Pidora build was performed at Seneca’s Centre for Development of Open Technology, where they’ve been working with Fedora ARMv5tel/armv7hl build farms for the last couple of years. That experience was directly responsible for Pidora, since the RPi uses the ARMv6 architecture with a dedicated FPU, which is not strictly part of the ARMv6 spec.
According to CDOT’s Chris Tyler, there were three main challenges to getting Pidora out the door:
- Ordering the build — sequencing the initial build of over 10K source packages that have complex and sometimes circular dependency chains can be challenging.
- ARMv6-specific issues — armv5 and armv7 are the most common targets for ARM builds. Some packages make incorrect assumption or are missing code for armv6.
- Native building — Fedora has a native-build philosophy, which requires that package builds be performed on a system capable of executing the compiled code.
Tyler shared some additional details of why Pidora is an interesting option for Raspberry Pi owners:
Pidora contains a number of Raspberry Pi-specific Python modules and native libraries, such as WiringPi, bcm2835, and python-rpi.gpio. The kernel is also compiled to expose the Raspberry Pi interfaces such as I2C, SPI, serial, and GPIO, and several of these can be accessed with /sys file interfaces (even from bash) without using any special libraries or modules. In addition, Pidora contains Raspberry Pi-specific utilities and libraries for access to the Broadcom Videocore IV GPU.
I’ve only just recently acquired an RPi, and last night I installed Pidora onto an SD card. I was off to the races with no trouble at all.
The Fedora folks have a long history of giving out USB sticks with Fedora pre-loaded. I suspect we’ll soon start seeing SD cards pre-loaded with Pidora being handed out at conferences and events.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 16:17
Paper by FiftyThree is one of the most beautiful digital products on the market today.
The immersive drawing app for tablets has won Apple’s Design Award, a Crunchie, and was most recently honored at Time Inc.’s 10 NYC Startups To Watch party. So how do you build on that kind of success?
Well, according to the founders, Paper is but the first product in a series of creative tools. The team is thinking pretty seriously about what comes next, and it seems as though a stylus is where things are headed.
“The human hand has evolved to use tools,” said co-founder Georg Petchnigg. “You have wrists to do fine-detailed work, so the idea of a stylus is really interesting to us. It’s something that we’re thinking about because we want to deliver the best creation experience on tablets, so a stylus is right at the forefront of that.”
Currently, FiftyThree recommends customers on its website buy a stylus, linking to an Amazon stylus page as well as promoting the Pogo Connect.
But new products aren’t the only concern at FiftyThree. The team is also constantly thinking about how to reach a broader audience. As co-founder Julian Walker put it, “everyone out there is creative.”
That said, the company recently launched a new stream of content called Made With Paper, to help users get inspiration from other works created in the app. This is just a first step in building out more social, community-based features that will not only attract new users but keep loyal ones engaged.
Catégories: News informatiques
jeu, 23.05.2013 - 15:10
More signs today the HTC First might also be the last smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed: UK carrier EE confirmed today that the first Facebook Home phone won’t be launching in the UK soon as planned, as Facebook has decided to concentrate its efforts on making improvements to the Home software before looking to add international markets. EE says it will soon be contacting customers who already used its pre-order system to express interest in the First to let them know about the delay, which is indefinite in length.
Here’s the full statement direct from EE:
Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customisation features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision.
Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.
We’ve also received a near-identical statement from Orange in France, where customers were also able to register their interest, so this isn’t limited to just the UK.
This is not great news for either Facebook or HTC. We’ve seen reports that Facebook Home has been performing poorly as a download, and that the First isn’t selling well in the U.S. Home currently has a 2.5 cumulative average rating in the Google Play store, and AT&T is reportedly in the process of discontinuing the HTC First, though we’ve not heard definitely either way if that’s the final word as of yet.
A so-called “Facebook Phone” under-performing is nothing new; the HTC Status did almost just as poorly, lasting only 36 days before AT&T started considering a swing of the axe.
As of press time, there’s still a button on the Facebook Home splash page that directs you to a page where you can express interest in a pre-order, but presumably that will come down as the carriers move to reflect this change in their own pages and alert customers of the change in the First’s status.
Update: Facebook has povided the following official statement regarding its decision, which mirrors those issued by EE and Orange France:
We’ve listened to feedback from users on their experience using Home. While many people love it, we’ve heard a lot of great feedback about how to make Home substantially better. As a result we’re focusing the next few months on adding customization features that address the feedback we received. While we focus on making Home better, we are going to limit supporting new devices and think it makes a lot of sense for EE and Orange to hold off deploying the HTC First in Europe.
Catégories: News informatiques