apps

Watchdogs ask Googlers to stop it favoring its own search results

A new coalition of activist groups led by Yelp and TripAdvisor are renewing the fight to get Google to give a fair opportunity to all sites instead of putting its Knowledge Cards atop the results for subjective search queries. The alliance that includes Fight For The Future and Consumer Watchdog.org has assembled tens of thousands of dollars to run targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “calling for Google employees to introspect and examine how Google’s One Boxes or Answer Boxes are harming the open internet,” says the project’s leader Luther Lowe, Yelp’s VP of public policy. The initiative is certainly self-serving, as Yelp and TripAdvisor have the most to lose from Google’s own local results getting to sidestep the PageRank algorithm and be shown atop search results pages befor...

Zuckerberg avoided tough questions thanks to short EU testimony format

Mark Zuckerberg got to cherry-pick the questions he wanted to answer from EU Parliament after it spent an hour taking turns rattling off queries in bulk before leaving just a half-hour for his batched responses. Zuckerberg immediately trotted out his dorm room story of not expecting Facebook’s current duty to safety and democracy, and repeated his pledge to broaden the company’s responsibility. While he’s vowed to have his team follow-up with point-by-point replies, he managed to escape the televised testimony without any newsworthy gaffes. The public will have to wait for canned, written responses to the toughest questions about why Facebook didn’t disclose the Cambridge Analytica issue immediately, how it uses shadow profiles and what he thinks about Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp bein...

Amazon to launch a new app store with tools for its two million sellers

Amazon is launching new app store with tools created specifically to help its sellers manage their inventory and orders. Called the Marketplace Appstore, it will feature apps made using Amazon Marketplace Web Service (Amazon MWS) by Amazon and third-party developers screened by the company. According to a report by CNET, the Marketplace Appstore launches to sellers today. There are now about two million sellers on Amazon, including more than a million small to medium-sized businesses in the United States. Amazon MWS is an integrated web service API that allows sellers to share data about their inventory, orders and logistics with Amazon in order to automate more tasks. It also enables sellers to build apps for their own accounts and other sellers. The company told CNET that “many developer...

Instagram says ‘you’re all caught up’ in first time-well-spent feature

Without a chronological feed, it can be tough to tell if you’ve seen all the posts Instagram will show you. That can lead to more of the compulsive, passive, zombie browsing that research suggests is unhealthy as users endlessly scroll through stale content hoping for a hit of dopamine-inducing novelty. But with Instagram’s newest feature, at least users know when they’ve seen everything and can stop scrolling without FOMO. Instagram is showing some users a mid-feed alert after a bunch of browsing that says “You’re All Caught Up – You’ve seen all new post from the past 48 hours.” When asked about it, Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s testing this feature. It declined to give details about how it works, including whether the announcement means you’ve seen literally every post from...

La Belle Vie wants to compete with Amazon Prime Now in Paris

French startup La Belle Vie announced a new funding round of $6.5 million earlier this week (€5.5 million). Julien Mangeard, Thibaut Faurès Fustel de Coulanges, Louis Duclert, Kima Ventures and Shake-Up Factory participated in the founding round. Online grocery shopping is becoming quite competitive in Paris. You can order groceries from Amazon using Amazon Prime Now. And all the traditional supermarkets are launching or relaunching services to order and receive groceries within a couple of hours — Carrefour Livraison Express, Franprix’s mobile app, etc. But all those services aren’t necessarily designed for this kind of offering. With Franprix’s app for instance, a rider is going to pick up your groceries in the nearest store and bring them to you. With Amazon Prime Now, Amazon has a big ...

Siempo’s new app will break your smartphone addiction

A new app called Siempo wants to un-addict you from your smartphone and its numerous attention-stealing apps. To do so, Siempo replaces an Android device’s homescreen, while also taking advantage of a number of design principles to push distractions further away, and give you more control over your notifications. The startup, which launched a few weeks ago on Google Play, actually began as a hardware company.  A hardware startup shifts to software In 2015, the original co-founders Andreas Gala and Jorge Selva began developing a minimalist feature phone device called Minium, in response to their concerns with today’s always-on culture. But designing hardware from scratch is hard, so they pivoted to making a mindful smartphone called Siempo using an existing handset from China. The following...

WARD is an app for placing fantasy bets on eSports games

Prediction markets, such as those that exist in the realm of fantasy sports, have taken off amongst consumers in the last few years. But fantasy sports have yet to make much of a play in one of the hottest areas online right now, namely eSports. And it’s a big market. Fantasy eSports have been thriving across international markets. In 2017 over 360 million viewers watched League of Legends alone, significantly overtaking the SuperBowl viewership. By 2020 eSports industry is estimated to be worth over $1.5B, with the target audience being 21-35 years old. But quite how to take advantage of this arena has been a conundrum. Now a new startup thinks it has the answer. What if you could create a live predictions market around eSports as it happens? That’s the aim of WARD, a startup out of Berli...

A free web tool can predict your hair, skin, and eye color from DNA data

A new tool by researchers at the School of Science at IUPUI and Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands can predict your hair, skin, and eye color from your DNA data. The system, which is essentially a web app that can accept DNA sequences, compares known color phenotypes to known data and tells you the probablities of each color. The app, called HIrisPlex-S, can tell colors from even small amounts of DNA like that left at a crime scene. “We have previously provided law enforcement and anthropologists with DNA tools for eye color and for combined eye and hair color, but skin color has been more difficult,” said forensic geneticist Susan Walsh from IUPUI. “Importantly, we are directly predicting actual skin color divided into five subtypes — very pale, pale, interm...

YouTube rolls out new tools to help you stop watching

Google’s YouTube is the first streaming app that will actually tell users to stop watching. At its Google I/O conference this week, the company introduced a series of new controls for YouTube that will allow users to set limits on their viewing, and then receive reminders telling them to “take a break.” The feature is rolling out now in the latest version of YouTube’s app, along with others that limit YouTube’s ability to send notifications, and soon, one that gives users an overview of their binge behavior so they can make better-informed decisions about their viewing habits. With “Take a Break,” available from YouTube’s mobile app Settings screen, users can set a reminder to appear every 15, 30, 60, 90 or 180 minutes, at which point the video will pause. You can then choose to dismiss th...

Fantasmo is a decentralized map for robots and augmented reality

“Whether for AR or robots, anytime you have software interacting with the world, it needs a 3D model of the globe. We think that map will look a lot more like the decentralized internet than a version of Apple Maps or Google Maps.” That’s the idea behind new startup Fantasmo, according to co-founder Jameson Detweiler. Coming out of stealth today, Fantasmo wants to let any developer contribute to and draw from a sub-centimeter accuracy map for robot navigation or anchoring AR experiences. Fantasmo plans to launch a free Camera Positioning Standard (CPS) that developers can use to collect and organize 3D mapping data. The startup will charge for commercial access and premium features in its TerraOS, an open-sourced operating system that helps property owners keep their maps up to date and su...

8 big announcements from Google I/O 2018

Google kicked off its annual I/O developer conference at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. Here are some of the biggest announcements from the Day 1 keynote. There will be more to come over the next couple of days, so follow along on everything Google I/O on TechCrunch.  Google goes all in on artificial intelligence, rebranding its research division to Google AI Just before the keynote, Google announced it is rebranding its Google Research division to Google AI. The move signals how Google has increasingly focused R&D on computer vision, natural language processing, and neural networks. Google makes talking to the Assistant more natural with “continued conversation” What Google announced: Google announced a “continued conversation” update to Google Assistant that mak...