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Think fast – this system watches you answer questions to make sure you’re human

Think fast – this system watches you answer questions to make sure you’re human

The war against bots is never-ending, though hopefully it doesn’t end in the Skynet-type scenario we all secretly expect. In the meantime it’s more about cutting down on spam, not knocking down hunter-killers. Still, the machines are getting smarter and simple facial recognition may not […]

Ultrasound could waken a sleeping smart home

Ultrasound could waken a sleeping smart home

The home of the future, we are assured, will be swarming with tiny sensors: security cameras, carbon monoxide detectors, speakers, and everything else. Few need to be running all the time — but how do you wake them up when they’re needed if they’re off […]

Sonos One is the speaker to beat for those that want great sound and smarts

Sonos One is the speaker to beat for those that want great sound and smarts



The connected speaker wars are upon us, and one day they will be detailed in history books for all to remember. But here now, it can be hard to cut through the various narratives surrounding the options out there and pick a winner. Now that the cards are on the table in terms of offerings from the major players, however, it’s pretty clear that Sonos has the best option available for most people.

Sonos One, the connected speaker that the company released last year, is a terrific sounding Wi-Fi-enabled speaker that also has built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa, which is if not the best smart assistant out there, then at least tied for first with Google’s Assistant.

On the sound front, Sonos has the most experience of any of the top three companies making smart speakers worth your consideration, too. The Sonos One is, in many ways, just an updated version of the Sonos Play:1 that’s acoustically very similar – but that’s actually a really good thing. The Sonos One, like the Play:1, is a terrific sounding audio device, especially given its size and physical footprint.

I’ve been using a pair of Sonos Ones for the past couple of weeks, and it’s clear that they do a great job of filling a room with sound, thanks in part to Sonos’ sound shaping tech that uses a two-minute setup process involving waving your phone around to properly model the audio they put out for your space.

Individually, a Sonos One is already a strong contender even against the Google Home Max and HomePod for sound quality for most people (who don’t need the additional power or won’t notice the auditory improvements afforded by the larger speakers) but the Sonos One has a another neat trick up its sleeve, since it can form a stereo pair with a second Sonos One. This provides true sound separation, meaning left and right channels reproduced as they were actually meant to be, instead of via some simulated stereo separation effect (which can be pretty cool, as HomePod reviews show, but which ultimately can’t match true stereo separation).

Another huge benefit of Sonos vs. the competition: the Sonos One integrates out of the box with the rest of your Sonos setup, should you have one. You can control all speakers via voice, and group them together for whole home/room-by-room playback. Google’s Home Max can work together with Chromecast-enabled speakers for similar multi-room streaming setups, and HomePod is set to get an update that will add multi-room and stereo syncing, but Sonos One offers both of these now, and using a method that’s proven to work.

There’s also pricing to consider. Sonos One, in a bundle with two, is available for $349 right now, which is the same price as a single HomePod. It’s an unbeatable deal, given the other advantages listed above, especially since it means you can see if you like it alone, or equip multiple rooms with Alexa smarts and quality connected sound in one go.

There are reasons to consider other options, to be sure, especially if you’re 100 percent committed to the Apple ecosystem of device and services, but in general for most people, for most use cases, Sonos One is the far better choice.



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Edtech company Kidaptive raises $19.1 million for its adaptive learning platform

Edtech company Kidaptive raises $19.1 million for its adaptive learning platform

Edtech startup Kidaptive, an adaptive-learning company that begin its life with a suite of curriculum-focused iPad games for kids, announced today it has closed on $19.1 million in Series C funding, in a round led by Formation 8 and Korean education company Woongjin ThinkBig. The investment […]

Tresorit adds file restore to its e2e encrypted cloud storage service

Tresorit adds file restore to its e2e encrypted cloud storage service

Europe-based cloud storage startup Tresorit which mainly focuses on selling to small to medium size businesses has added a file restore feature to its e2e encrypted cloud storage platform which it’s touting as a helpful feature if you’re trying to recover from a ransomware attack. Or, more […]

Say goodbye to Android Pay and hello to Google Pay

Say goodbye to Android Pay and hello to Google Pay



As we reported last month, Google is uniting all of its different payment tools under the Google Pay brand. On Android, however, the Android Pay app stuck with its existing brand. That’s changing today, though, with the launch of Google Pay for Android. With this, Google is rolling out an update to Android Pay and introducing some new functionality that the company hopes will make its payment service ubiquitous — both in stores and on the internet.

In addition, Google is also launching a redesign of the Google Wallet app for sending and requesting money — and it’s now called Google Pay Send. Users in the U.S. and U.K., though, will also soon be able to use the Google Pay app for sending and requesting money. New users can download the Google Pay app today and existing Android Pay users will get updated over the course of the next few days.

At first glance, the new Google Pay app is basically a redesign of Android Pay, with a look and feel that adheres closer to Google’s own Material Design guidelines than the original. In terms of functionality, there isn’t all that much here that’s new. One notable change, though, is that the Google Pay home screen now shows you relevant stores around you where you can pay with Google Pay. That list is personalized, based on previous stores where you used the service, and based on your location, too. In addition, the home screen also shows you all of your recent purchases and you can also still add all of your loyalty cards to the app, too.

As Google’s VP of Product Management for Payments, Pali Bhat told me, the team really wanted to make it extremely easy to get started with Google Pay and use the service to pay for goods online and in the real world — and to do so with as little friction as possible. That means that users who bank with Bank of America in the U.S. or a Google partner like Mbank in Poland,  you can set up Google Pay right from your bank’s app without having to even install Google Pay. Once that’s set up, you can simply pay with Google Pay online and out in the real world.

Similarly, if an online app or website wants to support this, developers can simply call a Google API to see if a given user has Google Pay enabled and then can then accept payments through Google Pay (which still get routed through the developers’ regular payment processors like Stripe or Braintree). “We give developers a very simple API to implement Google Pay,” Bhat noted, “The API is simple because we are not processing that payment. We just securely pass the credentials to whoever is doing it.” Apps like DoorDash, Airbnb, Hotel Tonight and others already support this feature today.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch



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Culture juggernaut Hypebeast takes a majority stake in The Berrics to make skating huge again (still)

Culture juggernaut Hypebeast takes a majority stake in The Berrics to make skating huge again (still)

In the middle of LA there is a tin roofed warehouse that houses a machine shop. Behind that there’s a brick building dotted with loading dock doors. Behind this is are a row of taller, better looking warehouse slots spottily occupied by businesses and non […]

Tandem launches a credit card that offers cashback and no fees when spending abroad

Tandem launches a credit card that offers cashback and no fees when spending abroad

Tandem, the U.K. challenger bank that recently acquired the banking arm of the famous Harrods department store partly in order to get its banking license back on track, has launched its first banking product: a credit card that offers cashback on every purchase and no […]

Uber parks its service in Morocco

Uber parks its service in Morocco



Uber is pulling the brakes on its service in Morocco, which will cease on February 23, as it waits (and hopes) for local regulators to accommodate app-based ride-hailing.

The company announced the move on its country blog yesterday, writing that it has “not had any clarity” on how its service can be integrated into the existing transport model since it launched in the market three years ago.

“[T]he current regulatory uncertainty does not allow us to provide a safe and reliable experience that meets the requirements of our customers, both drivers and passengers. So, as long as there is no real reform and an environment conducive to new mobility solutions, we are forced to suspend our operations this week,” it writes. 

It does not explain why it took three years to decide to stop operating if doing so was unsafe.

Uber says it has 300 drivers using its app in the market and “nearly 19,000 regular users”. It adds that it remains committed to returning to the market “as soon as new rules are in place”.

It’s also going to be providing some financial assistance for drivers — to help them through what it calls “this difficult transition”. On this, an Uber spokesperson told us: “We are providing drivers with an estimate of revenues generated over two weeks of driving with Uber.”

Last year the company announced a similar pause on its service in Finland, but in that case it’s awaiting a specific law to be passed deregulating its taxi industry this year.

It also parked its UberPop p2p ride-hailing service in Norway, leaving only licensed driver services operating there — saying it wanted to engage in a “constructive dialogue with policymakers” to lobby for rule changes that would enable it to restart its engines. But without a firm restart date.

Such moves are in marked contrast to the Travis Kalanick ‘foot to the metal’ Uber era approach to regulatory roadblocks — which the company used to expand rapidly across the globe in its early years, exploiting the disconnect between new technologies and policymakers’ understand of them. Uber says its business now serves more than 15 trillion trips per day, globally.

But both Uber as a company, led now by emollient CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and cities as an unaware playground for VC-fueled tech giants to do as they please have moved on and woken up to tech’s disruptive playbook. Now the game is all about honing a policy strategy.

“Since we launched in Morocco over two years ago, there has been a lack of clarity about new platforms like Uber and how they fit into the existing transport model,” Uber told Reuters in a statement. “Despite consistent dialogue… we have yet to see any constructive progress on the regulations and can safely say we have exhausted all measures.”

Uber’s p2p ride-hailing service remains shut out of multiple cities in several European markets, including Barcelona, Brussels, Frankfurt, Hamberg and Paris. It still operates some professions driver services in some cities where it has paused its p2p service.

In London the company lost its license to operate last year in a shock move by the city regulator, although it is continuing to operate during its appeal.

Last week London’s transport regulator published a safety-first vision for regulating the fast-changing private hire vehicle space. Uber has also recently announced a “safety” cap on driver hours in the UK, and has also been expanding subsidized insurance offerings in the region.

Featured Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images



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Homie raises $4M to help London’s ‘Generation Rent’ find their next property

Homie raises $4M to help London’s ‘Generation Rent’ find their next property

So bad is London’s housing crisis, which sees house prices make homeownership a pipe dream for many, a 2015 report by PWC reckons that by 2025 more than half of under 40 year olds will be living into rental properties. The answer, of course, is […]