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07.26.16 | 6:30 am

Google Maps just got a lot more useful with this new visual feature

Google has announced in a blog post that the update to its Maps app for iOS and Android that was released yesterday added a big new feature: the ability to view "areas of interest" just by looking at the map.

As you explore the new map, you'll notice areas shaded in orange representing "areas of interest"—places where there's a lot of activities and things to do. To find an "area of interest" just open Google Maps and look around you. When you've found an orange-shaded area, zoom in to see more details about each venue and tap one for more info…We determine "areas of interest" with an algorithmic process that allows us to highlight the areas with the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops. In high-density areas like NYC, we use a human touch to make sure we're showing the most active areas.

The Google Maps team has recently made it easier for users to update business listings and add places—part of a general push toward building what Ed Parsons, Google's geographer-in-chief, calls a "selfie for the planet." 

12.07.16 | 27 minutes ago

The bulk of the money behind Trump’s tech deal comes from Saudi Arabia 

Yesterday, President-elect Donald Trump made headlines by touting SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son's pledge to invest $50 million in American startups. Son later told the Wall Street Journal that the money would come from a $100 million fund the bank launched with Saudi Arabia in October. That fund includes $25 billion pledged by SoftBank over five years and $45 billion from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. As CNN notes, it's just the latest tech investment by Saudi Arabia, which took a $3.5 billion stake in Uber last summer and put $500 million into noon.com, a Riyadh-based startup that aims to be the Amazon of the Middle East.

12.07.16 | an hour ago

Morning intel: Trump is Time’s “person of the year,” Pandora takes on Spotify 

Pandora is set to launch Pandora Premium, an on-demand music subscription service that will compete with Spotify

Time magazine has named President-elect Donald Trump as its 2016 "person of the year." On the short list: Hillary Clinton, "the hackers," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the CRISPR pioneers, and Beyoncé.

• An earthquake off the coast of Indonesia has left more than 97 people dead, with many more feared to be trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.

• A New York Times photojournalist has documented the slaughter of suspected drug users in the Philippines, where the government has promoted a violent anti-drug campaign and vigilante killings.

Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey discussed Trump's frequent use of the platform during a tech conference in California. "We're definitely entering a new world where everything is on the surface and we can all see it in real time," Dorsey said.

12.07.16 | an hour ago

Chase Sapphire Reserve’s popular perks will cost JPMorgan as much as $300 million this quarter

JPMorgan Chase found itself absorbing an avalanche of sign-ups for the Sapphire Reserve credit card earlier this year, as points junkies flocked to the promise of the card's lucrative benefits. Now the bank will have to account for the cost of its 100,000-point bonuses for new card holders—to the tune of $200 million to $300 million in this quarter alone. According to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., JPMorgan may not break even on the card until 2022. 

For JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, that steep acquisition price is worth the short-term profit hit. "The card has been doing great," he told investors yesterday. 

12.07.16 | 2 hours ago

Apple blames “external physical damage” for exploding iPhones in China 

In the wake of eight recent reports of iPhone that exploded or caught on fire while being used or charged, Apple is blaming "external physical damage" for the incidents. In a statement to Agence France-Presse, the company said it is busy analyzing and testing the devices which experienced "thermal events," insisting that "we treat safety as a top priority and have found no cause for concern with these products." Apple's chief rival, Samsung, has faced a publicity crisis over worldwide reports of exploding Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.

A report issued by the Shanghai Consumer Council included the account of one woman whose iPhone 6s Plus blew up in August, "shattering the screen and leaving the battery and back of the phone blackened," per the AFP

12.07.16 | 7:23 am

Apple’s iPhone manufacturer Foxconn is planning to make a U.S. investment

The Taiwan-based manufacturer of iPhones, iPads, and other digital devices has confirmed it is planning to make an investment in the U.S., reports Bloomberg. In a statement, Foxconn said, "While the scope of the potential investment has not been determined, we will announce the details of any plans following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant U.S. officials. Those plans would be made based on mutually-agreed terms." Foxconn's announcement comes after president-elect Trump has repeatedly said he wants to see Apple move manufacturing back to the United States. However, until Foxconn details its planned investment it's impossible to know what, if any, manufacturing will be coming to the U.S.

12.07.16 | 6:47 am

Apple Pay is now accepted at 35% of U.S. merchants

Apple Pay head Jennifer Bailey announced the new numbers at the Code Commerce conference in San Fransisco, reports the Verge. To put that figure into perspective, Apple Pay was only accepted at 4% of merchants just two years ago. Bailey said one of the reasons for the rise of Apple Pay is because people have been annoyed by the new EMV chip cards: "Once you figure out you have to dip, you wait a while, you wait a while," before hearing the beep–and you still need to remove your card from your wallet. But Bailey says Apple won't be using EMV annoyance in its Apple Pay marketing. "Knocking EMV is not necessarily the way to go. I think it's to increase acceptance and work with great partners." 

12.07.16 | 6:21 am

Report: Pebble Time 2 and Pebble Core pre-orders will be cancelled after Fitbit buyout

Fitbit is close to closing its deal to purchase Pebble, reports Bloomberg. The amount which Fitbit will be paying for the company is "less than $40 million" and is mainly about acquiring its software, including the Pebble OS, apps, and cloud services, as well as talent acquisition. Bloomberg says Fitbit isn't interested in Pebble's hardware and that the Time 2 and Pebble Core smartwatches that were successfully funded by backers on Kickstarter in May will be cancelled and refunds issued to all those that backed the devices.

12.07.16 | 6:14 am

Netflix launches video previews to help users decide what to watch

With its ever-increasing content, the company is hoping its new video previews will aid in discoverability and allow viewers to better find content they'll enjoy, the company wrote in a blog post:

What's a video preview? For starters, video previews aren't teasers or traditional trailers. They are specially designed video synopses that help members make faster and more confident decisions by quickly highlighting the story, characters and tone of a title. In developing this experience, our testing showed that people watched more of a story, demonstrating these previews helped them browse less and watch more.

12.07.16 | 6:08 am

Here’s what Twitter founder Jack Dorsey thinks of Donald Trump’s use of the service

Speaking at the Code Commerce conference in California, Dorsey was asked if he felt responsible for Trump's election, reports the Guardian. Dorsey replied "America is responsible for Donald Trump being president," but then conceded Trump excelled at Twitter use more than any other candidate:

"He's [Trump] known how to use it for quite some time. I think it's an important time for the company and service. And having the president-elect on our service, using it as a direct line of communication, allows everyone to see what's on his mind in the moment. I think that's interesting. I think it's fascinating. I haven't seen that before.

We're definitely entering a new world where everything is on the surface and we can all see it in real time and we can have conversations about it. Where does that go? I'm not really sure. But it's definitely been fascinating to learn from."

When asked how he felt about Trump's use of the service, Dorsey said:

"Complicated. I feel very proud of the role of the service and what it stands for and everything that we've done, and that continues to accelerate every single day. Especially as it's had such a spotlight on it through his usage and through the election."

12.07.16 | 6:01 am

Apple Music now has 20 million subscribers

Apple announced its 20 million subscribers Apple Music milestone just three months after reporting 17 million users in September, reports Billboard. That means Apple Music gained 3 million more subscribers in just three months—a 15% increase. Another interesting note: Apple says that 60% of Apple Music users have not bought content from the iTunes Music Store in the last year.

12.06.16 | 7:37 pm

Pandora is now officially gunning for Spotify

In May 2015, Pandora acquired the music-analytics powerhouse Next Big Sound, followed by concert ticket-seller Ticketfly five months later. Now it's launching the third piece of the puzzle, Pandora Premium, which makes plainer than ever the company's intention to eat Spotify's lunch.

Launching in the first quarter of 2017, Pandora Premium is an on-demand music subscription service that merges Pandora's data-powered personalized radio with an extensive, all-you-can-stream music catalog like the ones you can find on Spotify, Apple Music, and Deezer.

Pandora Premium takes the guts of Rdio (which Pandora also acquired last year) and fuses it together with the massive trove of data about music and listeners that Pandora has been collecting for the last 11 years. The result, promises chief product officer Chris Phillips, is a service with both a thorough music catalog and a personalized approach: Everything from the search results to the songs Pandora suggests while you're building a new playlist will be unique to each user.

Pandora Premium is part of the company's broader effort to keep up with an ever-changing streaming music market while trying to serve both listeners and artists. It's the next major step for the company as it charts its new course and, according to rumors, potentially looks for a buyer.

12.06.16 | 7:07 pm

American Apparel tries to reassure nervous workers they won’t lose their jobs

In a letter reviewed by Fast Company, American Apparel's leadership wrote to employees to update them about the ongoing negotiations about the company's sale. The auction of the manufacturing, wholesale, and retail business will be taking place on January 9 and 12. 

They say, "We do not anticipate that there will be any employment terminations taking place on January 7th as a result of the bankruptcy. After this date, we will have more clarity on the go-foward plan, depending on which buyer or buyers succeed, and how they wish to move forward."

Reading between the lines, there is a decent possibility that some proportion of American Apparel workers will lose their jobs January 8.