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02.17.17 | 12:00 pm

Apple has decided that the iPad Pro isn’t a computer after all

Last August, Apple released an iPad Pro ad that positioned the tablet as an amazing computer. Now it has a new commercial that declares that the iPad Pro isn't a computer, but rather something better—faster than most laptops, with optional built-in LTE and the Pencil stylus. The semantic shift illustrates the challenge of explaining a device that has a distinctly different set of pros and cons than a garden-variety PC. And that issue is one of the factors that has made the iPad a tougher long-term sell for Apple than many of us would have predicted a few years ago.

I love my iPad Pro and use it for 95% of the things I used to accomplish with a laptop, so I'm down with Apple's pitch. But I wouldn't be startled if skittish Mac fans fret about the ad's message. Macs, after all, are most assuredly computers.


07.25.17 | 3 hours ago

Study: CTE present in 110 out of 111 former NFL players’ brains

A neuropathologist recently examined the brains of 111 players in the National Football League (NFL) and discovered that almost all of them, 110 to be exact, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative disease that has previously been linked to blows to the head. The disease can cause memory loss, depression, confusion, and dementia, and often exhibits symptoms years after blows to the head have stopped.

The study involved examining the brains of 202 deceased players, including the 111 former members of the NFL. Players ranged from age 23-89, and included players from every position on the field.

The NFL released this statement to NPR:

"We appreciate the work done by Dr. McKee and her colleagues for the value it adds in the ongoing quest for a better understanding of CTE. Case studies such as those compiled in this updated paper are important to further advancing the science and progress related to head trauma. The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes. As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence, and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE. The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries."

07.25.17 | 3 hours ago

Report: Lyft is now growing faster than Uber

It's an understatement to say the last year has been rough for Uber. The company has been mired in multiple scandals, each of which tainted its public image. Conversely, Lyft has kept a relatively low profile, which seems to have helped it better compete with the larger Uber.

In fact, growth for Lyft has been accelerating rapidly, reports Bloomberg. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg writes that Lyft's gross bookings grew by over 25% over this quarter to exceed $1 billion. This is allegedly faster growth than Uber, which reportedly told investors it was in the "mid-teens." 

Of course, Uber is still much bigger than Lyft. Thanks to its international business, the ride-hailing app saw gross bookings exceed $8 billion this past quarter, reports Bloomberg. Still, this Lyft growth will surely be something Uber—which is still looking for a new CEO—will keep tabs on. 

07.25.17 | 4 hours ago

Snopes has already hit its $500k crowdfunding goal

Yesterday, the oft-cited fact-checking website Snopes took to crowdfunding due to a dispute that left it without a steady flow of ad revenue. In a plea to its readers, the site asked people to donate to help keep things afloat as the legal mess gets figured out.

It's been only a day and the GoFundMe for Snopes has already exceeded the $500,000 goal. As of the writing of this post, over 18,000 people have helped raise nearly $509,000. The campaign is still roaring on so it's anyone's guess how much the site will be able to raise.

07.25.17 | 10:04 am

Cord-cutter watch: Nielsen starts counting some Hulu and YouTube TV viewing as traditional ratings falter

Audience measurement is a messy thing in 2017, and Nielsen has been trying to clean things up with new ways to count viewers who watch TV shows across various platforms and devices. In its latest move, the measurement firm said it will start reporting "eligible TV viewing" from Hulu and YouTube TV in its ratings. That would give the ad industry a better sense of how many people are watching a particular show on platforms other than traditional TV sets, Nielsen says. The company says the new Hulu and YouTube TV measurement will contribute directly to C3 and C7 currency—which is when people watch a show within three or seven days of its original airdate. 

With TV audiences fragmenting, and viewers cutting the cord at a faster pace, Nielsen is facing an existential crisis of sorts as it seeks to measure 21st-century audiences in ways that advertisers and media companies can agree on. The company has been the focus of blame-the-messenger backlash from some TV executives who, in the face of declining ratings, have called Nielsen's relevance into question. 

Check out the full story here.

[Photo: courtesy of Hulu]

07.25.17 | 7:38 am

India won’t allow driverless cars if they take away jobs

In language that is sure to frighten the likes of Google, Tesla, and every other company with a foot in the driverless car game, India's road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has said that driverless cars will not be allowed in the country if they take away jobs, reports the HindustanTimes. Speaking on Tuesday, Gadkari said:

"We won't allow driverless cars in India. I am very clear on this. We won't allow any technology that takes away jobs. In a country where you have unemployment, you can't have a technology that ends up taking people's jobs."

India is one of the top destinations tech companies are focusing their resources on for growth. With a consumer market of 1.2 billion people, if India actually ends up not allowing driverless cars in the country it will effectively seal off one-sixth of the world's population from the autonomous car market.

07.25.17 | 7:30 am

Language-learning app Duolingo is almost a unicorn

Duolingo is the funny little app that could. With cute illustrations, playful chatbots, and humorous practice phrases, such as "Your bear drinks beer," the foreign-language learning app has gained over 200 million users. Most of them pay nothing—other than a flicker of attention to occasional ads. (The paid version has a few bonus features, like that ability to use it when the phone is offline.) But investors are paying a lot. A new funding round of $25 million led by Drive Capital brings Duolingo's total take to $108.3 million, the company said today, giving it a $700 million valuation.

Founded by Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and MacArthur "genius award" winner Luis von Ahn five years ago, Duolingo has grown to support 27 languages, mostly crowdsourced from bilingual volunteers. It also provides an English certification exam and a flashcard-making app called Tinycards. By the end of the year, the Pittsburgh-based company says it will nearly double its staff from 80 to 150.

07.25.17 | 7:02 am

Michael Kors just bought Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion

Michael Kors, which has pitched itself as an "affordable luxury" brand, is hoping to improve its fortunes with the acquisition of Jimmy Choo, a high-end shoe brand that targets an upmarket consumer.

Michael Kors has been struggling over the last few years. The company's strategy of discounting has backfired, severely hurting the brand's image, and causing its share price to plummet by 20% in 2017. It is now planning to shutter as many as 125 stores. Jimmy Choo, on the other hand, has been thriving, largely due to strong sales in Asia. 

Michael Kors is following in the footsteps of Coach, another "affordable luxury" brand which recently acquired the high-end shoe brand Stuart Weitzman and accessories brand Kate Spade in an effort to better compete. 

Read more in the New York Times.

07.25.17 | 6:02 am

Hey, Apple and Google: iRobot wants to sell its Roomba vacuum indoor mapping data

The Roomba 900 series doesn't just clean your floors, it collects valuable indoor mapping data by doing so, thanks to its use of simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology. SLAM enables the high-end Roomba to build a map of the room it's operating in, which is what allows it to do things like automatically return to its docking station when it needs a recharge.

As much of the outside world has already been mapped by Google and Apple, the two companies are now turning to mapping indoor locations, which makes iRobot's mapping data potentially very valuable, as iRobot CEO Colin Angle told Reuters, "There's an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared." Angle said he thinks iRobot could reach a deal to sell its indoor mapping data to "one or more" of the "Big Three" (Amazon, Apple, and Google) in the next few years, but notes he would not sell a Roomba user's room data without their permission.

[Image: iRobot]

07.25.17 | 5:45 am

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are having a spat about whether AI will kill us all

It's recently come to light how the two tech titans disagree on how badly things could go wrong with artificial intelligence. When asked by a Facebook user during a recent Facebook Live broadcast about his thoughts on AI and Musk's assertion that it could pose a threat to humanity, Zuck said Musk's doomsaying was "irresponsible" (via Business Insider):

"I have pretty strong opinions on this. I'm really optimistic. I'm an optimistic person in general. I think you can build things and the world gets better. With AI especially, I'm really optimistic and I think that people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios … I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I actually think it's pretty irresponsible."

"Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future I think: 'Yeah technology can generally always be used for good and bad and you need to be careful about how you build it and you need to be careful about what you build and how it's going to be used. But people who are arguing for slowing down the process of building AI, I just find that really questionable. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. If you're arguing against AI then you're arguing against safer cars that aren't going to have accidents and you're arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they're sick."

Not having any of that, the Tesla CEO took to Twitter to respond:

We'll let these two tech luminaries continue to fight it out amongst themselves. But just one note to Zuck: No one believed Sarah Connor's warnings either.

07.25.17 | 5:31 am

Microsoft Paint will avoid its brush with death

Yesterday the internet nostalgia machine freaked out when it was reported that Microsoft would soon be killing off its much-mocked Paint program–an app that has been around for 32 years. The news was based on the fact that in the next release of Windows 10, Paint would be moved to the "deprecated" features list, which includes apps that are "not in active development and might be removed in future releases." But due to yesterday's outpouring of love–like the kind you suddenly find when you discover your longtime girlfriend is getting ready to walk–for the seemingly doomed app, Microsoft has clarified that Paint will stay around for a bit longer–it just will have a new home. In a blog post, Microsoft revealed:

Today, we've seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint. If there's anything we learned, it's that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It's been amazing to see so much love for our trusty old app. Amidst today's commentary around MS Paint we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight, clear up some confusion and share some good news: MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free.

[Image: Microsoft]

07.24.17 | 5:37 pm

Google says your living room is YouTube’s biggest growth area right now

During Alphabet's second-quarter earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took a few minutes to talk about YouTube. Pichai says the video service currently has 1.5 billion monthly users that watch on average 60 minutes of video each day. The fastest-growing area for YouTube is the living room, where YouTube has seen nearly double the number of viewers watching on a television year-over-year. Without getting specific, Pichai said advertiser feedback on ad-supported YouTube Originals has been "extremely positive."

07.24.17 | 4:41 pm

Alphabet Q2 profits dinged after hefty EU fine

Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., reported its second-quarter earnings today. The company's revenue was $26.01 billion for the quarter, up from $21.5 billion last year. However, profits took a hit due to a record $2.74 billion fine the company had to pay European antitrust regulators. Quarterly net income was $3.52 billion, compared to $4.88 billion last year.

Other interesting tidbits from today's report: Users are clicking on advertisements more. The company reported a 52% gain in the number of paid clicks over last year. However, the cost of those clicks (what an advertiser will pay for them) has dropped 23% from last year. Alphabet employed 75,606 people at the end of the quarter, up from 66,575 last year. Earlier today Alphabet announced it had added Sundar Pichai to its board.