Skydio’s autonomous drone lands in Apple retail stores, now supports Watch controls

Skydio’s autonomous drone lands in Apple retail stores, now supports Watch controls

With a few taps, you can now direct Skydio‘s $1,999 autonomous drone from your Apple Watch allowing you to fulfill the geeky dream you never knew you had, directing an expensive autonomous drone with your little wrist computer.

The very cool R1 self-flying drone will also be going up for sale in US Apple Stores, a big win for the young drone startup which has only been taking orders via its own website. Apple doesn’t have a very robust selection of drones either, with most of their selection coming from drone giant DJI, putting Skydio in some pretty elite company.

Now, let’s get back to the real question here. Why on earth would you need to control a drone from your Apple Watch? Well, it’s certainly a valid question. The Apple Watch launched with a ton of third-party apps and one-by-one they kind of seemed to drop off as developers — and Apple — learned that the device is generally at its best when it’s part of a passive experience.

Skydio sort of bills the R1 as a drone built for the GoPro crowd, delivering a very unique type of footage but ultimately one that can be self-controlled. Navigating the Skydio app on your phone always takes you out of action for a bit and makes it so that you staring at your phone is always the first part of every cinematic shot. With Apple Watch support, some use cases make a lot more sense than others. People who use the drone to video themselves while biking will probably find this particularly useful, as the controls are all of a sudden in a much more accessible place on your wrist. Otherwise, the Watch support makes the very niche problem of controlling a drone in the most low-key way possible just a little bit easier.

The Watch app has a very straight-forward UI and really gives you a lot of control over the drone. You can cycle through the list of skills, tapping modes like Lead, Follow and Orbit and putting the drone to work, but you can also interestingly identify people in the R1’s feed for it to follow as well. It all works surprisingly well on the Watch, and feels like an unusually powerful set of features for the device.

For the Skydio user, the Watch is now in your control repertoire. It’s certainly not going to be the most logical piloting mechanism at all times, but if you’ve been looking for more effortless ways to direct the R1, you have some new options.

Source: Tech Crunch

Scribd and The New York Times announce a joint $12.99 subscription

Scribd and The New York Times announce a joint .99 subscription

If you want to subscribe to both Scribd and The New York Times, you can now do it for a combined price of $12.99 per month — particularly impressive when you consider that a standard NYT digital subscription costs $15.99 on its own.

You sign up and pay through Scribd, but once you do, you’ll get separate logins. Those will give you full access to The Times’ website and apps, as well Scribd’s library of ebooks, audiobooks and more. (One caveat: You’ll need to be a new subscriber to both services.)

The two companies have worked together in the past, both on a student subscription and by incorporating selected Times articles into the Scribd service. This, however, looks like their biggest partnership yet.

When asked about the price, The Times’ vice president of customer experience and retention Dork Alahydoian said simply, “We felt the need to be competitive with other major services.”

He added that The Times is hoping use these kinds of bundles to find and retain new subscribers. However, it hasn’t done many of these partnerships in the past — basically, a promotion with Spotify is the only one in the United States.

“We definitely needed to make sure it was the right partner, the right audience, the right model,” Alahydoian said. In his view, Scribd was a good fit because it attracts a similar audience as The Times, namely educated readers who are “willing to pay for content.”

As for whether The Times might do more deals like this in the future, he said, “We’re always looking for the right partnership. It’s about making sure it’s an impactful relationship.”

Scribd, meanwhile, has been experimenting with subscription bundles of its own. In this case, CEO Trip Adler said he’s hoping to provide “everything you could want to read in one subscription.”

“By having such a great offering, we think we can really expand the number of people who pay for news and for books and for written content,” he added.

Source: Tech Crunch

YouTube experiences a major outage lasting for more than an hour

YouTube experiences a major outage lasting for more than an hour

No, it’s not just you. As of Tuesday evening Pacific Time, YouTube was down for many users. The outage appears to have begun some time around 6:15 p.m., making this a pretty long outage for such a major site.

The company is well aware of the issue and tweeting its updates. The account began responding to tweets reporting the outage about an hour ago and has painstakingly replied to many, many reports from users since.

YouTube doesn’t experience downtime very often, making Tuesday’s outage pretty notable. We’ve reached out to YouTube about the cause of the outage and will update this story when we learn more.

Update 8 p.m. Pacific: Google confirms that YouTube is back online and should be working again for all users.

Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook News Feed now downranks sites with stolen content

Facebook News Feed now downranks sites with stolen content

Facebook is demoting trashy news publishers and other websites that illicitly scrape and republish content from other sources with little or no modification. Today it exclusively told TechCrunch that it will show links less prominently in the News Feed if they have a combination of this new signal about content authenticity along with either clickbait headlines orlanding pages overflowing with low-quality ads. The move comes after Facebook’s surveys and in-person interviews with discovered that users hate scraped content.

If illgotten intellectual property gets less News Feed distribution, it will receive less referral traffic, earn less ad revenue, and the there’ll be less incentive for crooks to steal articles, photos, and videos in the first place. That could create an umbrella effect that improves content authenticity across the web.

And just in case the scraped profile data stolen from 29 million users in Facebook’s recent massive security breach ended up published online, Facebook would already have a policy in place to make links to it effectively disappear from the feed.

Here’s an example of the type of site that might be demoted by Facebook’s latest News Feed change. “Latet Nigerian News” scraped one of my recent TechCrunch articles, and surrounded it by tons of ads.

An ad-filled site that scraped my recent TechCrunch article. This site might be hit by a News Feed demotion

“Starting today, we’re rolling out an update so people see fewer posts that ink out to low quality sites that predominantly copy and republish content from other sites without providing unique value. We are adjusting our Publish Guidelines accordingly” Facebook wrote in an addendum to its May 2017 post about demoting sites stuffed with crappy ads. Facebook tells me the new publisher guidelines will warn news outlets to add original content or value to reposted content or invoke the social network’s wrath.

Personally, I think the importance of transparency around these topics warrants a new blog post from Facebook as well as an update to the original post linking forward to it.

So how does Facebook determine if content is stolen? It’s systems compare the main text content of a page with all other text content to find potential matches. The degree of matching is used to predict that a site stole its content. It then uses a combined classifier merging this prediction with how clickbaity a site’s headlines are plus the quality and quantity of ads on the site.

Source: Tech Crunch

Periscope broadcasters can now assign their own chat moderators

Periscope broadcasters can now assign their own chat moderators

It’s going to be harder for trolls to disrupt Periscope broadcasts. The Twitter-owned live streaming app has offered chat moderation capabilities for years, but it has so far relied on group moderation. That means when users flagged a comment as abuse, spam or harassment, Periscope would randomly select a few other viewers to take a look and decide if that’s true. Violators would be banned if the users agreed. That worked well in some cases, but it still put control in the hands of the crowd, not the live streamer. Now, Periscope is changing that.

Instead of relying solely on group moderation, the company says broadcasters will instead be allowed to assign chat moderators before they start streaming.

These moderators can then watch the chat during the live broadcast and actively mute commenters in the audience who are disruptive.

After being muted, the person will not be allowed to chat for the remainder of the broadcast. This muting activity will be visible to anyone joining the broadcast from either Periscope or Twitter, but assigning chat moderators can only be done from Periscope, the company says.

When the live stream wraps, the broadcaster can then view a list of all the muted accounts and can choose to block those users from joining in future broadcasts.

The addition, which arrived alongside new replay editing tools, is another step towards improving the health of conversations on Periscope, the company claims. It follows another change announced this past summer, which focused on stricter enforcement of its rules around abuse and harassment.

Before, trolls whose comments were flagged during a broadcast were only temporarily blocked from chatting. They wouldn’t be able to comment on that live broadcast, but they could still join others in the future and continue to disrupt, threaten or abuse the video creator or the community.

The change that rolled out this summer made it so that those people who repeatedly got suspended for violating the guidelines would have their Periscope accounts reviewed and suspended.

Online harassment is not a new problem, to be sure, but the major social platforms have been struggling to get a handle on the issues.

In Twitter’s case, in particular, it’s been called out for being too tolerant of online harassment and hate speech, under the guise of protecting free speech. But Twitter has been trying to better handle abuse complaints, in more recent months, including through the acquisition of anti-abuse technology provider Smyte, which is helping to automate some of the processes here, as well as with the rollout of more stringent policies and anti-abuse features. Periscope hasn’t received as much attention, but is focusing on reducing the abuse that occurs during the real time conversations on live broadcasts.

More info on how the new chat moderation feature works is here.


Source: Tech Crunch

No, your Twitter was not hacked

No, your Twitter was not hacked

Twitter users on iOS were hit with a strange bug today. Instead of receiving notifications that included the tweet itself, they received a string of alphanumeric characters. The issue only affected iOS users, we confirmed with the company, and has since been resolved.

Twitter was quick to address the problem, following complaints from Twitter users about the weird notifications.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted at 12:42 PM ET today that Twitter was aware of the issue and was working on a fix.

Minutes later, he tweeted again that the issue was resolved.

We asked Twitter for more details on what went wrong, as a lot of people were wondering why their phones’ notification screen looked like this.

Some were also concerned it was a security issue of some kind, and didn’t know if a password reset was in order.

Twitter now says the issue was only a bug – nothing to be concerned about.

The company pointed us to a tweet from its Support channel (see below), which explains the issue in layman’s terms. It says the bug was related to the code used for iOS notifications – specifically the “red bubbles” (meaning the app icon’s badges).

Normally, you would not see this in “numbers and code,” Twitter explains.

Or, as @Jack put it in more technical terms: “We send an invisible background notification to the app with badge counts (mainly unread notifications, DMs, etc.). The issue caused these notifications to become visible for a short period of time. We don’t know exactly why, but quickly reverted.”

In any event, the issue is fixed, it’s not a hack, and we can all rest easy.


Source: Tech Crunch

Pokémon Go update bringing ‘mon from the Sinnoh region is live

Pokémon Go update bringing ‘mon from the Sinnoh region is live

If you’ve been laying off the Pokémon Go for a while due to a lack of new monsters, prepare to be glued to your phone again. Niantic is now adding pokémon from the rugged Sinnoh region that first appeared in 2007’s Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum games.

Of course, it’s not so simple as a dump of a hundred new ‘mon into your area. The new guys are arriving in waves, likely meaning the most common sorts will start appearing today, while cooler ones and sets of themed critters will arrive over the coming weeks.

These are part of the Generation 4 set, but it’s not clear yet which will be appearing first or indeed at all. It’s entirely up to Niantic and you can be sure they’re going to mete these little guys out over several months, interspersed with other events — anything to keep you catching.

Everyone will probably have a Chimchar on their shoulder soon, because that sucker is cute, but ultimately everyone is going to want a Dialga. I get the feeling they’re going to be a regular feature at gyms soon. I for one will be working to evolve a Glaceon.

There are also some new evolutions, so don’t trash your mid-tier pokémon just yet. Magmortar, Electivire, Tangrowth, and Rhyperior mean you’ll have a use for all that extra candy.

Update your app and start draining that battery, Trainer! And don’t forget that we’ve got Niantic’s Ross Finman at our AR/VR Session in LA this Thursday. Drop by if you’re in the area.

Source: Tech Crunch

Arm launches Neoverse, its IP portfolio for internet infrastructure hardware

Arm launches Neoverse, its IP portfolio for internet infrastructure hardware

Arm-based chips are ubiquitous today, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. After announcing its ambitions for powering more high-end devices like laptops a few months ago, the company today discussed its roadmap for chips that are dedicated to internet infrastructure and that will power everything from high-performance servers to edge computing platforms, storage systems, gateways, 5G base stations and routers. The new brand name for these products is ‘Neoverse’ and the first products based on this IP will ship next year.

Arm-based chips have, of course, long been used in this space. What Neoverse is, is a new focus area where Arm itself will now invest in developing the technologies to tailor these chips to the specific workloads that come with running infrastructure services. “We’ve had a lot of success in this area,” Drew Henry, Arms’ SVP and GM for Infrastructure, told me. “And we decided to build off that and to invest more heavily in our R&D from ourselves and our ecosystem.”

As with all Arm architectures, the actual chip manufacturers can then adapt these to their own needs. That may be a high core-count system for high-end servers, for example, or a system that includes a custom accelerator for networking and security workloads. The Neoverse chips themselves have also been optimized for the ever-changing data patterns and scalability requirements that come with powering a modern internet infrastructure.

The company has already lined up a large number of partners that include large cloud computing providers like Microsoft, silicon partners like Samsung and software partners that range from RedHat, Canonical, Suse and Oracle on the operating system side to container and virtualization players like Docker and the Kubernetes team.

Come 2019, Arm expects that Neoverse systems will feature 7nm CPUs. By 2020, it expects that will shrink to 5nm. What’s more important, though, is that every new generation of these chips, which will arrive at an annual cadence, will be 30 percent faster.

Source: Tech Crunch

Medical device maker Medtronic finally fixes its hackable pacemaker

Medical device maker Medtronic finally fixes its hackable pacemaker

Medtronic, a maker of medical devices and implants, has pulled the plug on its internet-based software update system, which security researchers had found had a dangerous security vulnerability

The company said in a notice this week that it’s switching off the software distribution network after researchers found that a hacker could update the pacemaker’s software with malicious software that could manipulate the impulses that regulate a patient’s heartbeat. The researchers, Jonathan Butts and Billy Rios, revealed the vulnerability at the Black Hat conference in August, more than a year after first reporting the vulnerability to Medtronic.

The bug isn’t within the pacemaker itself but the devices that are used by doctors to connect to the pacemaker to check its battery and status. These “programmer” devices weren’t checking if downloaded software hadn’t been tampered with.

Medtronic issued several updates throughout the year to try to mitigate the vulnerability, but only this month shut down the internet updating feature, per a security advisory issued by the Federal Drug Administration.

Now, patients with one of the 34,000 CareLink affected pacemakers will have to receive the update over USB from their doctor when new software is released, according to Medtronic’s statement.

It’s a turnaround from how the medical device maker reacted when the flaws were first reported. Butts said at the time that the company “spent more time trying to twist the story than fixing it.”

Medtronic said that it’s not received any reports to date of anyone exploiting the vulnerabilities.

Source: Tech Crunch

Pinterest is turning more of its window shoppers into buyers with newest features

Pinterest is turning more of its window shoppers into buyers with newest features

Visual search engine Pinterest is rolling out new features this morning that will make it easier for people to purchase the products on its platform.

The $12 billion company, which has 250 million monthly active users, has rebuilt the infrastructure behind its product pins with a goal of making the mobile app and website more “shoppable,” per Pinterest’s head of shopping product Tim Weingarten.

The company says since it began testing the new features in the previous quarter, clicks on products to retail sites increased by 40 percent. That’s a big win for Pinterest, whose business model relies greatly on advertising revenue.

The three new features include up-to-date pricing and stock information on all product pins with links that take pinners to the retailer’s website. Plus, a new “Products like this” category under each fashion and home decor pin, which includes stylistically similar products that Pinterest thinks that user will like. It’s also added a new shopping shortcut within the app that connects users to similar products to a given pin. That new feature is accessible when users hold down on any home or style pin and click on the price tag logo (second image below).

“When you see something on Pinterest you’d like to own you should be able to buy it, or something just like it, that matches your unique style. That’s our vision for shopping with Pinterest,” Weingarten wrote in a blog post announcing the features. “Pinterest is like your personal stylist. We can give you recommendations for products to buy based on your unique taste and what’s trending, and show you a range of visual ideas.”

Pinterest has been trying to convert its users to buyers for a long time. Last year, the company launched Pinterest Lens, which lets users take a photo of something in their existing wardrobe or a cool pair of shoes they saw someone wearing on the subway, for example, upload it into the app and instantly view that product or similar ones.

The company has no choice but to beef up its ecommerce features, not only because it’s expected to make the transition into the public markets sometime in 2019 but because even larger players in the space, namely Facebook and Instagram, have begun integrating features that make it easier for their users to discover and consider purchases.

According to a CNBC report, Pinterest is expected to double its ad revenue to $1 billion this year. To date, it’s secured more than $1 billion in venture capital funding, most recently raising $150 million at a $12.3 billion valuation.

Source: Tech Crunch