India continues to crack down on Chinese apps, Microsoft launches a deepfake detector and Google offers a personalized news podcast. This is your Daily Crunch for September 2, 2020. The big story: India bans PUBG and other Chinese apps The Indian government continues its purge of apps created by or linked to Chinese companies. It already banned 59 Chinese apps back in June, including TikTok. India’s IT Ministry justified the decision as “a targeted move to ensure safety, security, and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.” The apps banned today include search engine Baidu, business collaboration suite WeChat Work, cloud storage service Tencent Weiyun and the game Rise of Kingdoms. But PUBG is the most popular, with more than 40 million monthly active users.
The tech giants Microsoft launches a deepfake detector tool ahead of US election — The Video Authenticator tool will provide a confidence score that a given piece of media has been artificially manipulated. Google’s personalized audio news feature, Your News Update, comes to Google Podcasts — That means you’ll be able to get a personalized podcast of the latest headlines. Twitch launches Watch Parties to all creators worldwide — Twitch is doubling down on becoming more than just a place for live-streamed gaming videos. Startups, funding and venture capital Indonesian insurtech startup PasarPolis gets $54 million Series B from investors including LeapFrog and SBI — The startup’s goal is to reach people who have never purchased insurance before with products like inexpensive “micro-policies” that cover broken device screens. XRobotics is keeping the dream of pizza robots alive — XRobotics’ offering resembles an industrial 3D printer, in terms of size and form factor. India’s online learning platform Unacademy raises $150 million at $1.45 billion valuation — India has a new startup unicorn. Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch The IPO parade continues as Wish files, Bumble targets an eventual debut — Alex Wilhelm looks at the latest IPO news, including Bumble planning to go public at a $6 to $8 billion valuation. 3 ways COVID-19 has affected the property investment market — COVID-19 has stirred up the long-settled dust on real estate investing. Deep Science: Dog detectors, Mars mappers and AI-scrambling sweaters — Devin Coldewey kicks off a new feature in which he gets you all caught up on the most recent research papers and scientific discoveries. (Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.) Everything else ‘The Mandalorian’ launches its second season on Oct. 30 — The show finished shooting its second season right before the pandemic shut down production everywhere. GM, Ford wrap up ventilator production and shift back to auto business — Both automakers said they’d completed their contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services. The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Spotify explores virtual concerts, Twitter tests a “quotes” count and Google’s Nest Hub becomes more hotel-friendly. This is your Daily Crunch for August 26, 2020. The big story: Spotify is testing virtual events We can’t have real-world concerts at the moment, so the popular music streaming service is exploring virtual alternatives. The feature isn’t live yet, but reverse-engineering scoopster Jane Manchun Wong tweeted out photos of an “Upcoming Virtual Events” section.
Spotify already highlights upcoming concerts from artists you like through various ticketing partners, and the screenshots show Songkick as the ticketing partner. Presumably, Spotify would be able to support virtual events with only minor changes to its bargaining agreement. And how big can these events be? K-pop megastars BTS raised nearly $20 million for a single show — but it’s probably safe to assume that most events will fall far short of that. The tech giants Twitter experiments with adding a ‘Quotes’ count to tweets — This engagement metric would sit alongside the tweet’s existing retweets and likes counts. Instagram Guides may soon allow creators to recommended places, products and more — The feature, which launched in May, has allowed select organizations and experts to share resources related to managing your mental health. Google is pushing to get the Nest Hub in more hotel rooms — A new update is tailored for the hotel experience, with key features like wake-up calls, weather and local businesses. Startups, funding and venture capital SpaceX will launch Masten’s first lander to the moon in 2022 — Masten’s first lunar mission is set to take place in 2022 if all goes according to plan. Here are the 94 companies from Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 Demo Day 2 — So many companies! Course Hero, a profitable edtech unicorn, raises rare cash — A Series B extension of $70 million, to be more specific. Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch Synthetic biology startups are giving investors an appetite — Impossible Foods is only the most public face of a growing trend in bioengineering. Funding for mental health-focused startups rises in 2020 — As wellness startups drift generally, VC hotspots emerge. (Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.) Everything else GM teases two new all-electric Chevy Bolt models — Both vehicles will go into production in summer 2021, according to GM. Learn how to scale social impact startups at Disrupt with Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Jessica O. Matthews — Uttering the words “making the world a better place” isn’t the same as doing it, or doing it well. The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Google is using accelerometers in an interesting new way, Twitter allows everyone to limit tweet replies and Mozilla announces major layoffs. This is your Daily Crunch for August 11, 2020. The big story: Android phones become earthquake detectors Google said that smartphone accelerometers are sensitive enough to detect P-waves, which are the first waves to arrive during an earthquake. So if your Android phone thinks it has detected an earthquake, it will communicate with a central server to confirm. In California, Google is also partnering with the United States Geological Survey and California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to provide earthquake alerts. For everyone else, you’ll only see this earthquake data if you search for “earthquake” or a similar term. This is part of a broader set of Android-related announcements today, including updates to Android Auto and Android’s emergency location service, new accessibility features and better sleep through the Android Clock app. The tech giants Twitter now lets everyone limit replies to their tweets — A small globe icon will start to appear at the bottom of your tweets, and if you tap it, you can limit replies just to those who follow you, or just to those who you tag in the tweet itself. Dell’s latest Chromebook blends enterprise security with premium specs — Once relegated to consumer or education use, Chromebooks are gaining traction in enterprise environments. Tencent and Universal Music to take Chinese artists global under joint label — Tencent Music Entertainment, which spun off from Tencent, commands the lion’s share of China’s music streaming industry. Startups, funding and venture capital Google, Nokia, Qualcomm are investors in $230M Series A2 for Finnish phone maker, HMD Global — Since late 2016, the startup has exclusively licensed Nokia’s brand for mobile devices, going on to ship some 240 million devices to date. Atomwise’s machine learning-based drug discovery service raises $123 million — Atomwise has already signed contracts with corporate partners that include Eli Lilly & Co., Bayer, Hansoh Pharmaceuticals and Bridge Biotherapeutics. Scribd acquires presentation-sharing service SlideShare from LinkedIn — According to LinkedIn, Scribd will take over operation of the SlideShare business on September 24. Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch How Moovit went from opportunity to a $900M exit in 8 years — Private investor (and former Moovit president) Omar Téllez shares the inside story. No pen required: The digital future of real estate closings — One potential silver lining of the pandemic, at least for the real estate world, may be a forced reckoning with the mortgage closing process. Emergence’s Jason Green still sees plenty of opportunities for enterprise SaaS startups — One consistent thread runs through Emergence’s portfolio: They focus on the cloud and enterprise, a thesis that has paid off big time. (Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.) Everything else Mozilla lays off 250 — This move comes after the organization already laid off about 70 employees earlier this year. EU-US Privacy Shield is dead. Long live Privacy Shield — The EU’s executive body and the US Department of Commerce have begun talks toward fashioning a new “Privacy Shield.” The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
With the launch of Android 11 getting closer, Google today launched the third and final beta of its mobile operating system ahead of its general availability. Google had previously delayed the beta program by about a month because of the coronavirus pandemic. Image Credits: Google Since Android 11 had already reached platform stability with Beta 2, most of the changes here are fixes and optimizations. As a Google spokesperson noted, “this beta is focused on helping developers put the finishing touches on their apps as they prepare for Android 11, including the official API 30 SDK and build tools for Android Studio.” The one exception is some updates to the Exposure Notification System contact-tracing API, which users can now use without turning on device location settings. Exposure Notification is an exception here, as all other Android apps need to have location settings on (and user permission to access it) to perform the kind of Bluetooth scanning Google is using for this API. Otherwise, there are no surprises here, given that this has already been a pretty lengthy preview cycle. Mostly, Google really wants developers to make sure their apps are ready for the new version, which includes quite a few changes. If you are brave enough, you can get the latest beta over the air as part of the Android Beta program. It’s available for Pixel 2, 3, 3a, 4 and (soon) 4a users.
Google’s budget Pixel 4a addresses its premium predecessor’s biggest problem
Days after announcing the Pixel 4a, Google has quietly discontinued sales of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. The move, noted earlier by The Verge, represents an extremely truncated life cycle for a Google flagship — around half of the 18 months the company continued to sell its two predecessors. Google already announced the imminent arrival of the Pixel 5, when it noted the forthcoming handset would be one of two Pixels devices to sport 5G, along with the Pixel 4a 5G. “Google Store has sold through its inventory and completed sales of Pixel 4|4XL,” the company tells TechCrunch. “For people who are still interested in buying Pixel 4|4XL, the product is available from some partners while supplies last. Just like all Pixel devices, Pixel 4 will continue to get software and security updates for at least 3 years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the U.S.” The Pixel 4 was a largely well-received device, owing mostly to impressive camera work. But the handset was hampered by bad battery life — something Google has since addressed in the 4a. The new budget handset also sports an excellent camera for its price point, making the Pixel 4’s existence somewhat redundant. Though the end of the Pixel 4 XL does leave Google with a larger option. The company has clearly been dealing with a kind of identity crisis with its smartphones. A recent management shakeup appears to point to a desire for a new direction for the line, which has long suffered from uneven sales. Among other things, Google entered an already saturated market and has had some trouble distinguishing its offerings from other Android handsets. It remains to be seen whether the Pixel 5 will be the first device to benefit from the division’s new direction.