Arm announces the next generation of its processor architecture

Arm today announced Armv9, the next generation of its chip architecture. Its predecessor, Armv8 launched a decade ago and while it has seen its fair share of changes and updates, the new architecture brings a number of major updates to the platform that warrant a shift in version numbers. Unsurprisingly, Armv9 builds on V8 and is backward compatible, but it specifically introduces new security, AI, signal processing and performance features.

Over the last five years, more than 100 billion Arm-based chips have shipped. But Arm believes that its partners will ship over 300 billion in the next decade. We will see the first ArmV9-based chips in devices later this year.

Ian Smythe, Arm’s VP of Marketing for its client business, told me that he believes this new architecture will change the way we do computing over the next decade. “We’re going to deliver more performance, we will improve the security capabilities […] and we will enhance the workload capabilities because of the shift that we see in compute that’s taking place,” he said. “The reason that we’ve taken these steps is to look at how we provide the best experience out there for handling the explosion of data and the need to process it and the need to move it and the need to protect it.”

That neatly sums up the core philosophy behind these updates. On the security side, ArmV9 will introduce Arm’s confidential compute architecture and the concept of Realms. These Realms enable developers to write applications where the data is shielded from the operating system and other apps on the device. Using Realms, a business application could shield sensitive data and code from the rest of the device, for example.

Image Credits: Arm

“What we’re doing with the Arm Confidential Compute Architecture is worrying about the fact that all of our computing is running on the computing infrastructure of operating systems and hypervisors,” Richard Grisenthwaite, the chief architect at Arm, told me. “That code is quite complex and therefore could be penetrated if things go wrong. And it’s in an incredibly trusted position, so we’re moving some of the workloads so that [they are] running on a vastly smaller piece of code. Only the Realm manager is the thing that’s actually capable of seeing your data while it’s in action. And that would be on the order of about a 10th of the size of a normal hypervisor and much smaller still than an operating system.”

As Grisenthwaite noted, it took Arm a few years to work out the details of this security architecture and ensure that it is robust enough — and during that time Spectre and Meltdown appeared, too, and set back some of Arm’s initial work because some of the solutions it was working on would’ve been vulnerable to similar attacks.

Image Credits: Arm

Unsurprisingly, another area the team focused on was enhancing the CPU’s AI capabilities. AI workloads are now ubiquitous. Arm had already done introduced its Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) a few years ago, but at the time, this was meant for high-performance computing solutions like the Arm-powered Fugaku supercomputer.

Now, Arm is introducing SVE2 to enable more AI and digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities. Those can be used for image processing workloads, as well as other IoT and smart home solutions, for example. There are, of course, dedicated AI chips on the market now, but Arm believes that the entire computing stack needs to be optimized for these workloads and that there are a lot of use cases where the CPU is the right choice for them, especially for smaller workloads.

“We regard machine learning as appearing in just about everything. It’s going to be done in GPUs, it’s going to be done in dedicated processors, neural processors, and also done in our CPUs. And it’s really important that we make all of these different components better at doing machine learning,” Grisenthwaite said.

As for raw performance, Arm believes its new architecture will allow chip manufacturers to gain more than 30% in compute power over the next two chip generations, both for mobile CPUs but also the kind of infrastructure CPUs that large cloud vendors like AWS now offer their users.

“Arm’s next-generation Armv9 architecture offers a substantial improvement in security and machine learning, the two areas that will be further emphasized in tomorrow’s mobile communications devices,” said Min Goo Kim, the executive vice president of SoC development at Samsung Electronics. “As we work together with Arm, we expect to see the new architecture usher in a wider range of innovations to the next generation of Samsung’s Exynos mobile processors.”

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Co-founded by a leader of SpaceX’s missions operations, Epsilon3 wants to be the OS for space launches

Laura Crabtree spent a good chunk of her childhood watching rocket launches on television and her entire professional career launching rockets, first at Northrup Grumman and then at SpaceX.

Now, the former senior missions operations engineer at SpaceX is the co-founder and chief executive of a new LA-based space startup called Epsilon3, which says it has developed the operating system for launch operations.

“The tools I had wanted did not exist,” said Crabtree. So when she left SpaceX to pursue her next opportunity, it was a no-brainer to try and develop the toolkit she never had, the first-time entrepreneur said. “I started looking at ways in which I could help the space industry become more efficient and reduce errors.”

Joining Crabtree in the new business is Max Mednik, a serial entrepreneur whose last company, Epirus, raised at least $144.7 million from investors including 8VC, Bedrock Capital and L3 Harris Technologies, and Aaron Sullivan, a former Googler who serves as the chief software engineer. Mednik worked at Google too before turning his attention to entrepreneurship. His previous businesses ranged from financial services software to legal services software, Mednik too had an interest in aerospace. His first job offers out of school were with SpaceX, JPL, and Google. And Aaron Sullivan another former

Part of a growing network of SpaceX alumni launching businesses, Epsilon3, like its fellow travelers First Resonance and Prewitt Ridge, is creating a product around an aspect of the design, manufacturing mission management and operations of rockets that had previously been handled manually or with bespoke tools.

“They make mission management software for the launchers and for the satellite companies that are going to be the payload of the rocket companies,” said Alex Rubacalva, the founder and managing partner of Stage Venture Partners, an investor in the company’s recent seed round. “It’s not just the design and spec but for when they’re actually working what are they doing; when you’re uplinking and downlinking data and changing software.”

Rubacalva acknowledged that the market for Epsilon3 is entirely new, but it’s growing rapidly.

“This was an analysis based on the fact that access to space used to be really expensive and used to be the provenance of governments and ten or 20 commercial satellite operators in the world. And it was limited by the fact that there were only a handful of companies that could launch,” Rubacalva said. “Now all of a sudden there’s going to be thirty different space flights. Thirty different companies that have rockets… access to space used to scarce, expensive, and highly restricted and it’s no longer any of those things now.” 

Relativity Space's Terran 1 rocket, artist's rendering

Image Credits: Relativity Space

The demand for space services is exploding with some analysts estimating that the launch services industry could reach over $18 billion by 2026.

“It’s a very similar story and we all come from different places within SpaceX,” said Crabtree. First Resonance, provides software that moves from prototyping to production; Prewitt Ridge, provides engineering and management tools; and Epsilon3 has developed an operating system for launch operations.

“You’ve got design development, manufacturing, integration tests and operations. We’re trying to support that integration of tests and operations,” said Crabtree. 

While First Resonance and Prewitt Ridge have applications in aerospace and manufacturing broadly, Crabtree’s eyes, and her company’s mission, remain fixed on the stars.

“We’re laser focused on space and proving out that the software works in the highest stakes and most complex environments,” said Mednik. There are applications in other areas that require complex workflows for industries as diverse as nuclear plant construction and operations, energy, mining, and aviation broadly, but for now and the foreseeable future, it’s all about the space business.

Mednik described the software as an electronic toolkit for controlling and editing workflows and procedures. “You can think of it as Asana project management meets Github version control,” he said. “It should be for integration of subsystems or systems and operations of the systems.”

Named for the planet in Babylon Five, Epsilon3 could become an integral part of the rocket missions that eventually do explore other worlds. At least, that’s the bet that firms like Stage Venture Partners and MaC Ventures are making on the business with their early $1.8 million investment into the business.

Right now, the Epislon3’s early customers are coming from early stage space companies that are using the platform for live launches. These would be companies like Stoke Space and other new rocket entrants. 

“For us, space and deeptech is hot,” said MaC Ventures co-founder and managing partner, Adrian Fenty. The former mayor of Washington noted that the combination of Mednik’s serial entrepreneur status and Crabtree’s deep, deep expertise in the field.

“We had been looking at operating systems in general and thinking that there would be some good ones coming along,” Fenty said. In Epsilon3 the company found the combination of deep space, deep tech, and a thesis around developing verticalized operating systems that ticked all the boxes. 

“In doing diligence for the company… you just see how big space is and will become as a business,” said Michael Palank, a co-founder and managing partner at MaC Ventures predecessor, M Ventures alongside Fenty. “A lot of the challenges here on earth will and only can be solved in space. And you need better operating systems to manage getting to and from space.”

The view from Astra’s Rocket 3.2 second stage from space.

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BMW takes the wraps off the i4, its first all-electric sedan

BMW plans to have 25 electrified cars in its lineup by 2025 and it’s taking a few more steps in this direction this year with the launch of the all-electric iX SUV and the i4 sedan. Today, for the first time, the German automaker shared a few more details of what we can expect from the i4, its first fully-electric sedan, in addition to sharing the first exterior shots of the new model.

At the top end, the i4 will have a power output of 390kW / 530HP. Going from zero to 100km/h will take four seconds.

BMW promises up to a 300 miles range, according to its own preliminary tests based on the EPA’s test procedures. Enough to go from L.A. to Las Vegas. That’s the same range as the iX will be able to cover on a single charge and a slight increase in horsepower compared to BMW’s new SUV. And while that range is less than what Tesla and some other competitors can offer, it’s still more than what’s possible with comparable all-electric Porsche and Audi models like the eTaycan and e-tron GT, which are in the lower 200s.

Image Credits: BMW

“With its sporty looks, best in class driving dynamics and zero local emissions, the BMW i4 is a true BMW. It makes the heart of the BMW brand now beat fully electric,” said Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Customer, Brands, Sales.

For now, we don’t have any pricing details or additional specs for the i4. It will become available later this year, so we’ll likely see more details in the summer.

“The iX is purpose-built, it’s spectacular and it’s a completely new BMW X product,” Frank Weber, BMW’s head of development, said at a press event earlier this week. “But what people are longing for is to see that we have a sport sedan that is fully electric. […] And the i4 has everything it takes to have a real sporty sedan from BMW that is fully electric.”

And indeed, unlike the somewhat quirky i3, BMW’s first all-electric car, the i4 is a standard, four-door sedan (with real passenger doors, unlike the i3) — something that buyers in the market for a sporty yet roomy electric car from BMW in the spirit of the existing 4-series will likely appreciate.

Earlier this week, BMW also announced version 8 of its iDrive operating system, which will feature a new dashboard layout and visual design, with two curved screens. It will make its debut in the i4 and iX.

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After 200% ARR growth in 2020, CourseKey raises $9M to digitize trade schools

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and forced educational institutions to go virtual, many were scrambling to develop online or blended curriculums.

That struggle was particularly challenging for trade schools, many of which were not designed to teach online and were mostly paper-driven. 

CourseKey, a San Diego-based trade school management SaaS startup, was in a unique position. Demand surged and its ARR grew by 200% in 2020. And now, the company has raised $9 million in a Series B led by SignalFire and with participation from existing backer Builders VC to help it continue its momentum. 

Founded in 2015 by Luke Sophinos and Fadee Kannah, CourseKey’s B2B platform is designed to work with organizations that teach some of our most essential workers — from automotive mechanics to electricians to plumbers to nurses, phlebotomists and dental assistants.

CourseKey founders Luke Sophinos (left) and Faddee Kannah (right)

CourseKey founders Luke Sophinos (left) and Fadee Kannah (right)

The goal is to help those organizations boost revenue by improving student retention and graduation rates, helping them maintain regulatory compliance and generally streamline processes. 

“Things really took off last year when the coronavirus hit,” Sophinos said. “So many schools had to adopt a digital arsenal. We saw a massive acceleration trend that was already going to happen. Every industry had been eaten. We just found a space that wasn’t yet.”

CourseKey currently works with over 200 career colleges, including the Paul Mitchell School and the Institute for Business & Technology, among others. Over 100,000 students use its software.

For Sophinos and Kannah, founding CourseKey was more than just a business opportunity. Kannah, who had fled Iraq as a refugee, saw family members going through trade schools that were lacking technology infrastructure and modern software tools. He architected the CourseKey platform. 

Sophinos, frustrated by his own college experience, applied for The Thiel Fellowship – a program that supports students in company building instead of university attending. However, he recognized that not everyone who doesn’t want to go to traditional college has that option.

“While looking at alternatives, our early team began recognizing a market that we felt no one was paying attention to. It was occupied by our friends and by our family members,” Sophinos said. “It was a space that, for some odd reason, was largely being left out of the education conversation.”

In 2017, CourseKey partnered with a large vocational education provider to build and launch what Sophinos describes as “the world’s first trade school management system.”

“We focused on automating daily classroom procedures like attendance and grading, enhancing the student experience through communication tools, helping to identify at-risk students, and simplifying compliance,” he said. “We also visualized data for retention purposes.”

CourseKey also does things like track skill attainment, run evaluations and exams and integrate third-party tools.

Image Credits: CourseKey

The startup’s goal with its new capital is to scale the platform to serve “every trade school in the country” with the mission of changing the narrative that four-year college is the “only option.” It also plans to add new features and capabilities, largely based on customer requests. CourseKey also plans to nearly double its current headcount of just over 50 employees to nearly 100 over the next two years.

“This is a massive market and massive business opportunity,” Sophinos said.

CourseKey has an impressive list of supporters beyond SignalFire and Builders. Steve Altman, former vice chairman and president of Qualcomm, led its $3.5 million seed round which also included participation from Larry Rosenberger, former FICO CEO. Dennis Yang, former CEO of edtech giant Udemy, and Altman now serve on its board.

SignalFire Managing Director Wayne Hu, who also took a seat on the startup’s board with the new round, said his firm recognized that vocational schools and their administrators, instructors, and students “suffer from a lack of purpose-built software.”

“Student Information Systems and Learning Management Systems are optimized for traditional K-12 schools and university workflow, but vocational schools are stuck relying on pen and paper or trying to shoe-horn in solutions that aren’t built for them,” Hu wrote in a blog post.

CourseKey, in SignalFire’s view, is reimagining a new education operating system built specifically for experiential, hands-on learning models, which continues to evolve with hybrid/distance learning.  

Hu also pointed out that since many of the jobs that vocational schools are preparing people for “have life or death consequences,” they are highly regulated.

“Not only does CourseKey improve trade school business KPIs, it serves as insurance against this existential risk,” he added.

#ceo, #dennis-yang, #distance-learning, #education, #funding, #fundings-exits, #operating-system, #recent-funding, #saas, #san-diego, #signalfire, #startups

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Hackers release a new jailbreak tool for almost every iPhone

An iPhone hacking team has released a new jailbreak tool for almost every iPhone, including the most recent models, by using the same vulnerability that Apple last month said was under active attack by hackers.

The Unc0ver team released its latest jailbreak this weekend, and says it works on iOS 11 (iPhone 5s and later) to iOS 14.3, which Apple released in December.

Jailbreaking is a cat-and-mouse game between security researchers who want greater control and customizations over their phones, and Apple, which says it locks down iPhones for security. Hackers build jailbreak tools by finding and exploiting vulnerabilities that can lift some of the restrictions that Apple puts in place, like installing apps outside of its app store, which most Android users are already used to.

In a tweet, the jailbreak group said it used its “own exploit” for CVE-2021-1782, a kernel vulnerability that Apple said was one of three flaws that “may have been actively exploited” by hackers. By targeting the kernel, the hackers are able to get deep hooks into the underlying operating system.

Apple fixed the vulnerability in iOS 14.4, released last month, which also prevents the jailbreak from working on later versions. It was a rare admission that the iPhone was under active attack by hackers, but the company declined to say who the hackers were and who they were targeting. Apple also granted anonymity to the researcher who submitted the bug.

The group’s last jailbreak, which supported iPhones running iOS 11 to iOS 13.5, was fixed in a matter of days last year. Apple works quickly to understand and fix the vulnerabilities found by jailbreak groups, since these same vulnerabilities can be exploited maliciously.

Security experts generally advise iPhone users against jailbreaking because it makes the device more vulnerable to attacks. And while keeping your phone up to date may introduce security fixes that remove the jailbreak, it’s one of the best ways of keeping your device secure.


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#android, #apple, #ios, #ios-13, #iphone, #jailbreak, #mobile-software, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #security, #smartphones, #technology

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LG enters fray with Google, Amazon, Roku for TV operating system dominance

LG has announced that it will begin licensing its webOS TV software for use by other TV manufacturers. That will put webOS in direct competition with other platforms in use across TV brands, such as alternatives from Roku, Amazon, and Google.

LG says “over 20 TV manufacturers” have “committed to the webOS partnership” and names RCA, Ayonz, and Konka as examples. They’ll ship the OS in their TVs and, in so doing, gain access to voice-control features, LG’s AI algorithms, and a fairly robust library of already built streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, or Disney+.

For smaller manufacturers, this is more cost-effective than developing these features on their own or lobbying companies like Netflix or Disney to support new platforms.

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#ayonz, #konka, #lg, #operating-system, #rca, #tech, #tv, #webos, #webos-5, #webos-6

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Titan nabs $12.5M for ‘next generation’ investment management

Titan, a startup that is building a retail investment management platform aimed at millennials, has closed on $12.5 million in a Series A round led by VC heavyweight General Catalyst.

A bevy of other investors put money in the round, including Sound Ventures (actor Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s VC firm), Scribble VC, Y Combinator, South Park Commons, Instagram founder Mike Krieger, Lee Fixel and others. 

Titan is hoping to build on the momentum it saw in 2020, during which it grew revenue, customers and assets under management by 600%, “with effectively no marketing budget, according to co-founder Joe Percoco. The New York-based company says it’s approaching $500 million in assets under management and was cash flow positive last year.

Percoco met co-CEO Clay Gardner while the pair were at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“We came from two different backgrounds with respect to investing,” Percoco recalled. “He was the type that bought his first shares of stock at the ages of 11 and 12. I’m the exact opposite and couldn’t invest myself until after Goldman Sachs, where I went to work after Penn.”

Because the duo both worked in the industry, they found that friends and family were always asking them how they should manage their capital.

“We were sending them to ETFs and mutual funds in our day jobs,” Percoco said. “But we realized they did not have the same access to investing that the wealthier did.”

Frustrated with only helping the rich get richer, the pair founded Titan in 2017 with the goal of disrupting what they viewed as “an archaic industry. They’ve since built an operating system aimed at giving “everyday investors access to the types of investment products and experiences that they’ve historically been locked out of.” Or, as they describe, it a mobile version of what investment giants Fidelity and BlackRock created decades ago.

Titan’s capital management platform is designed for both accredited and unaccredited investors. The company says it provides access to services that would historically require a $1 million minimum, such as direct portfolio manager access. It charges a fee amounting to just 1% of assets, compared to the 2% – and in some cases 20% of profits – that legacy players charge.

“We believe Fidelity 2.0 will be direct-to-consumer with no walls and no black boxes,” Percoco said.

(For the unacquainted, according to Investopedia, black box accounting is the deliberate use of complex bookkeeping methodologies to make interpreting financial statements challenging and time-consuming.)

Its simplicity sets it apart. As TechCrunch previously reported, Titan’s app “chooses the best stocks by scraping top hedge fund data, adds some shorts based on your personal risk profile and puts your money to work. No worrying about market fluctuations or constantly rebalancing your portfolio. You don’t have to do anything, but can get smarter about stocks thanks to its in-app explanations and research reports.”

The startup currently offers two stock-focused strategies on its platform,

One of those strategies, called Flagship, is focused on large cap growth. The other, called Opportunities, focuses on smaller, under-the-radar companies.

All clients have direct access to its investment team and investor relations via Titan’s mobile operating system. The company also offers instant deposits, personal digital vaults (or separately managed accounts), fractional share-trading, and no lock-ups.

Titan’s core customer is the young professional in the 25-35 age range. 

“They’re already investing money somewhere, even if not that much of their money,” Gardner said. “But they’re well attuned to the reasons they should be… And, most asset management products remain in the Stone Age, offering 90-page prospectuses and black-box client experiences.”

As former TC editor Josh Constine explained when the company raised a $2.5 million seed round in October 2018, Titan differs from Robinhood or E*Trade, where users essentially are left to fend for themselves. But clients also have some control, unlike passive options such as Wealthfront and Betterment.

Looking ahead, Titan plans to use its new capital to scale its engineering and investment team, as well as make “significant investments” in product, marketing and operations. It also plans to launch several investment products across a variety of asset classes.  

“Many legacy players are hungry to have an OS to serve more folks they historically could not,” Percoco said. “We’re getting inbounds from legacy players in the space seeking to manage capital for new generations and realizing it will shift to mobile operating systems like Titan’s. Eventually, we can enable them to build their own investment products on Titan.” 

Katherine Boyle, partner at General Catalyst and Titan board member, said she was struck by Percoco and Gardner’s “deep empathy” for investors who are often overlooked — such as millennials and new investors “who have cash sitting in their checking accounts and want expert management but don’t know where to go.”

“They don’t want to be stock pickers but they don’t want a set-it-and-forget-it product,” Boyle said. “There’s another level of sophistication with actively managed products where the best managers are making investment decisions on behalf of those who can afford it. But there’s no reason why retail investors should be excluded from this model.”

She thinks Titan can capitalize on what she believes is millennials’ “deep lack of trust” in legacy institutions.

“We need new institutions like Titan to combat this lack of trust,” Boyle said. “And these new institutions need to have incentives that are aligned with their clients, not with hedge funds or banks.”

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Apple says iOS 14.4 fixes three security bugs ‘actively exploited’ by hackers

Apple has released iOS 14.4 with security fixes for three vulnerabilities, said to be under active attack by hackers.

The technology giant said in its security update pages for iOS and iPadOS 14.4 that the three bugs affecting iPhones and iPads “may have been actively exploited.” Details of the vulnerabilities are scarce, and an Apple spokesperson declined to comment beyond what’s in the advisory.

It’s not known who is actively exploiting the vulnerabilities, or who might have fallen victim. Apple did not say if the attack was targeted against a small subset of users or if it was a wider attack. Apple granted anonymity to the individual who submitted the bug, the advisory said.

Two of the bugs were found in WebKit, the browser engine that powers the Safari browser, and the Kernel, the core of the operating system. Some successful exploits use sets of vulnerabilities chained together, rather than a single flaw. It’s not uncommon for attackers to first target vulnerabilities in a device’s browsers as a way to get access to the underlying operating system.

Apple said additional details would be available soon, but did not say when.

It’s a rare admission by Apple, which prides itself on its security image, that its customers might be under active attack by hackers.

In 2019, Google security researchers found a number of malicious websites laced with code that quietly hacked into victims’ iPhones. TechCrunch revealed that the attack was part of an operation, likely by the Chinese government, to spy on Uyghur Muslims. In response, Apple disputed some of Google’s findings in an equally rare public statement, for which Apple faced more criticism for underplaying the severity of the attack.

Last month, internet watchdog Citizen Lab found dozens of journalists had their iPhones hacked with a previously unknown vulnerability to install spyware developed by Israel-based NSO Group.

In the absence of details, iPhone and iPad users should update to iOS 14.4 as soon as possible.

#apple, #apple-inc, #computing, #google, #ipad, #ipads, #iphone, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #safari, #security, #smartphones, #spokesperson, #tablet-computers, #vulnerability

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Three different space launch companies – three very different approaches to solving for cost and efficiency

Launch startup Astra had a monumental week, achieving their first spaceflight with a rocket test on Tuesday. Astra CEO Chris Kemp joined Relativity CEO Tim Ellis, and VOX Space President Mandy Vaughn at our TC Sessions: Space event on Wednesday, and with Relativity’s huge $500 million round earlier this year, and Virgin Orbit’s milestone test flight in May, it was a big year for all involved.

A significant portion of our discussion focused on the very different approaches that each of these launch companies is taking to solving what boils down to the same problem – improving cost and availability of launch. Kemp first described Astra’s approach, which boils down to rigorous and continuous process and cost optimization.

“Where we focus our software effort is in understanding where to make engineering optimizations,” Kemp said. “So by having an Astra operating system that is making it visible to all of our engineers, where your costs are, because you have a long lead time on this part, because there’s a lot of labor to assemble this part. […] We’re not throwing any specific technology solution at a problem, we’re trying to basically triage the trade-offs that you’re making between the performance of the rocket – you can always use a higher-cost material, and you can potentially also use a higher cost manufacturing process, like 3D printing, but it isn’t always the right approach.”

Kemp added that Astra is essentially technology-agnostic when it comes to their production stack, and flexible in terms of how to configure that based on available resources and end goal parameters.

“You want to optimize the overall economics of the business without regard to what technology you’re going to use,” he said. “So we pick the right technology to optimize the business based on the capital we have, and the production rate and the launch rate that we’re trying to target.”

Ellis, meanwhile, talked about Relativity’s use of 3D printing, and how it differs significantly from its use in the production stack of other existing rocket manufacturers.

“What we’re doing at Relativity is completely different than then what almost everyone else is doing with using 3d printing for bits and pieces of a rocket,” he said.” From Apollo and launching rockets to the Moon, how we fundamentally build and develop, and the tool sets we use to make rockets and aerospace products is more or less the same as what it was 60 years ago – you walk into a factory, and it’s full of giant, expensive, fixed tooling, very complicated supply chains building products one at a time by hand with hundreds of thousands, to even millions of parts, depending on whether it’s a rocket or commercial aircraft.”

Image Credits: Virgin Orbit, Astra, Relativity Space

By contrast, Ellis pointed out that it’s creating rockets with less than 1,000 total components by viewing 3D printing from a top-down angle, and using it for the vast majority of the production process, rather than for select components.

“Then we’re able to actually build each rocket and from raw material and fly it in 60 days, once our factories operational, and then 60 days later, we’ll do a better version and 60 days later, a better version than that,” he said. “So the compounding rate of progress that’s possible with an all-in 3d printing approach, I believe, is equivalent to going from on-premise servers to cloud, or from gas internal combustion engines to electric – it’s really actually an entirely different tech stack and value chain, it’s not just the rocket itself.”

Vaughn pointed out that while all the companies have different approaches, they all seek to change the accessibility and cost of getting payloads to orbit. She then pointed out that Virgin Orbit has identified launch location flexibility as one of the key levers to speed that change in the right direction.

“It’s not just about getting mass to orbit. It’s about how do we change what is that cost point to do, and how do we change the accessibility to do so,” she said. “Also, really unique from our perspective is, what is that just kind of inherent mobility to do – so how can we actually just fly the launch pad around, and really change the CONOPS [concept of operations] of what it takes to establish an infrastructure and leverage that infrastructure to have access to space.”

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne is carried by a modified 747 passenger airplane, which takes off from and lands at a traditional runway. That not only means the rocket itself requires less fuel, and therefore less mass, to deliver its cargo to orbit, but also introduces a lot of launch site flexibility.

“By changing the discussion in terms of what is a launch, and what is the end game, it’s not just about mass to orbit, it’s about all of these other elements of how can we react quickly, how can we design and produce something quickly, as well as deploy that capability, maybe in a unique way from an unexpected location, and then get the on-space effects delivered uniquely and quickly,” Vaughn said.

All three panelists agreed that the market will likely support many providers when it comes to small launch vehicles, and their existing sold inventory queues reflects that. We also heard later in the day from Amazon SVP Dave Limp, who pointed out that they alone will require multiple launch providers contracted for multiple missions to get Amazon’s Project Kuiper constellation in place on orbit.

#3d-printing, #aerospace, #astra, #booting, #ceo, #chris-kemp, #microsoft-windows, #operating-system, #president, #relativity, #science, #space, #tc, #tc-sessions-space-2020, #the-lean-startup, #tim-ellis, #vox-space

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Google opens its Fuchsia operating system to outside developers

For the longest time, Google’s new Fuchsia operating system remained a bit of a mystery — with little information in terms of the company’s plans for it, even as the team behind it brought the code to GitHub under a standard open-source license. These days, we know that it’s Google’s first attempt at developing a completely new kernel and general purpose operating system that promises to be more than just an experiment (or a retention project to keep senior engineers from jumping ship). For the most part, though, Google has remained pretty mum about the subject.

It seems like Google is ready to start talking about Fuchsia a bit more now. The company today announced that it is expanding the Fuchsia open-source community and opening it up to contributions from the public. Typically, companies start opening up their open-source projects to outside contributors once they feel they have achieved a stable foundation that others can build on.

“Starting today, we are expanding Fuchsia‘s open source model to make it easier for the public to engage with the project,” the team writes. “We have created new public mailing lists for project discussions, added a governance model to clarify how strategic decisions are made, and opened up the issue tracker for public contributors to see what’s being worked on. As an open source effort, we welcome high-quality, well-tested contributions from all. There is now a process to become a member to submit patches, or a committer with full write access.”

Google is also publishing a technical roadmap for Fuchsia, with a driver framework, file system performance and expanding the input pipeline for accessibility at the top of the list.

The company also specifically notes that Fuchsia is not ready for general product development or even as a development target. Anybody with the right technical chops can clone the repository and build the code, though. Google already provides quite a bit of documentation around how to do that today, as well as an emulator.

Google also notes that it aims to build an include open source community around the project. “Fuchsia is an open source project that is inclusive by design, from the architecture of the platform itself, to the open source community that we’re building. The project is still evolving rapidly, but the underlying principles and values of the system have remained relatively constant throughout the project.”

#computing, #developer, #free-software, #fuchsia, #github, #google, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #software, #version-control

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Microsoft reveals Pluton, a custom security chip built into Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm processors

For the past two years, some of the world’s biggest chip makers have battled a series of hardware flaws, like Meltdown and Spectre, which made it possible — though not easy — to pluck passwords and other sensitive secrets directly from their processors. The chip makers rolled out patches, but required the companies to rethink how they approach chip security.

Now, Microsoft thinks it has the answer with its new security chip, which it calls Pluton. The chip, announced today, is the brainchild of a partnership between Microsoft, and chip makers Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm.

Pluton acts as a hardware root-of-trust, which in simple terms protects a device’s hardware from tampering, such as from hardware implants or by hackers exploiting flaws in the device’s low-level firmware. By integrating the chip inside future Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm central processor units, or CPUs, it makes it far more difficult for hackers with physical access to a computer to launch hardware attacks and extract sensitive data, the companies said.

“The Microsoft Pluton design will create a much tighter integration between the hardware and the Windows operating system at the CPU that will reduce the available attack surface,” said David Weston, director of enterprise and operating system security at Microsoft.

Microsoft said Pluton made its first appearance in the Xbox One back in 2013 to make it far more difficult to hack the console or allow gamers to run pirated games. The chip later graduated to Microsoft’s cloud service Azure Sphere, used to secure low-cost Internet of Things devices.

The idea now is to bring that same technology, with some improvements, to new Windows 10 devices.

The chip comes with immediate benefits, like making hardware attacks against Windows devices far more difficult to succeed. But the chip also solves a major security headache by keeping the device’s firmware up-to-date.

Whether or not the Pluton chip can stand the test of time is another matter. Most of the chip vulnerability research has been done by third-party researchers through extensive, and often tedious work. Microsoft’s Weston said the Pluton chip has undergone a security stress-test by its own internal red team and by external vendors. But that could come back to haunt the company if it got something wrong. Case in point: just last month, security researchers found an “unfixable” security flaw in Apple’s T2 security chip — a custom-built chip in most modern Macs that’s analogous to Microsoft’s Pluton — that could open up Macs to the very security threats that the chip is supposed to prevent.

Microsoft declined to say if it planned to offer the Pluton chip designs to other chip makers or if it planned to make the designs open source for anyone to use, but said it plans to share more details in the future, leaving the door open to the possibility.

#advanced-micro-devices, #computing, #hardware, #macintosh, #microsoft, #microsoft-windows, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #security, #windows-10

0

macOS 11 Big Sur launches on November 12

Today, Apple announced that macOS 11 Big Sur will launch on all supported devices on November 12. The operating system update was first announced at the company’s annual developer conference in June and has been working its way through various phases of beta testing since.

Big Sur primarily lays the groundwork for Apple Silicon-based Macs. Apple says the update has been designed to maximize the performance of the company’s new M1 system-on-a-chip and that the combination will make it possible to run iOS and iPadOS apps natively on M1-equipped Macs, though iOS/iPadOS developers will be able to opt out of that if they choose.

Big Sur introduces a notable visual redesign for the user interface and many apps, including an iOS- and iPadOS-like notification center panel on the desktop. Some parts of Big Sur, like a new version of Safari, have already been released to users running Catalina.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#apple, #mac, #macos, #macos-11, #macos-11-big-sur, #macos-big-sur, #operating-system, #tech

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Google reveals a new Windows zero-day bug it says is under active attack

Google has dropped details of a previously undisclosed vulnerability in Windows, which it says hackers are actively exploiting. As a result, Google gave Microsoft just a week to fix the vulnerability. That deadline came and went, and Google published details of the vulnerability this afternoon.

The vulnerability has no name but is labeled CVE-2020-17087, and affects at least Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Google’s Project Zero, the elite group of security bug hunters which made the discovery, said the bug allows an attacker to escalate their level of user access in Windows. Attackers are using the Windows vulnerability in conjunction with a separate bug in Chrome, which Google disclosed and fixed last week. This new bug allows an attacker to escape Chrome’s sandbox, normally isolated from other apps, and run malware on the operating system.

Microsoft did not immediately comment when contacted by TechCrunch, but Project Zero’s technical lead Ben Hawkes said in a tweet that Microsoft plans to issue a patch on November 10.

But it’s unclear who the attackers are or their motives. Google’s director of threat intelligence Shane Huntley said that the attacks were “targeted” and not related to the U.S. election.

It’s the latest in a list of major flaws affecting Windows this year. Microsoft said in January that the National Security Agency helped find a cryptographic bug in Windows 10, though there was no evidence of exploitation. But in June and September, Homeland Security issued alerts over two “critical” Windows bugs — one which had the ability to spread across the internet, and the other could have gained complete access to an entire Windows network.

#chrome-os, #computer-security, #elite, #google, #google-chrome, #malware, #microsoft, #microsoft-windows, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #security, #software, #vulnerability, #windows-7, #windows-xp

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Shopify stock is up in pre-market trading as earnings blow past estimates

Shopify stock jumped nearly 3% in pre-market trading today after announcing earnings that handily beat the estimates set by Wall Street.

The Ottawa-based provider of e-commerce services for retailers reported earnings of $133.2 million, or $1.13 per-share, for the third quarter after posting a loss of $33.6 million, or 29 cents per-share, in the same period last year. Analysts tracking the company had expected earnings per-share of 52 cents.

Pretty much everything about the company’s business looked good, partly driven by plummeting brick-and-mortar retail sales as health regulations to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus like occupancy constraints have slowed down foot traffic.

Shopify’s $767.4 million in revenue for the quarter was up 96% from a year ago and handily beat the expectations of analysts who were predicting for the company to bring in roughly $658 million. Operating income was also up from the year-ago period with Shopify calling about $50 million, or 7% of revenue, compared to a nearly $36 million loss for the year ago period. Adjusted operating income was nearly $131 million.

“The accelerated shift to digital commerce triggered by COVID-19 is continuing, as more consumers shop online and entrepreneurs step up to meet demand,” said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s President, in a statement. “Entrepreneurs will be the force in rebuilding economies all over the world, which makes it even more important for Shopify to innovate and build the critical tools that merchants need to succeed in a low-touch retail environment.”

“Shopify’s tremendous third-quarter results reflect the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of our merchants,” said Amy Shapero, Shopify’s CFO . “More entrepreneurs are signing on to Shopify so they can quickly and easily put their ideas into action. We continue to evolve our global commerce operating system to make it easier for merchants to get online and start selling, get discovered, and get their goods to buyers, while providing a delightful shopping experience.”

Shopify is interesting not only for its own revenue, but what its revenues say about the health of direct-to-consumer retail businesses — some of which have raised significant investment from venture capitalists.

Looking at the company’s merchant solutions revenue, which grew by 132% to $522.1 million — the state of these direct-to-consumer companies’ bottom line must be pretty healthy. Gross merchandise volume, the figure from which Shopify derives its merchant solutions gains, was $30 billion. That figure is an increase of $16.1 billion over the year-ago period.

Shopify is sitting on a pretty hefty financial cushion with $6.12 billion in cash and equivalents, up from $2.46 billion at the start of the year.

Outside its financials, Shopify is making moves to expand its footprint in social commerce, through a recent partnership with TikTok, announced yesterday. The deal should enable more Shopify sellers to reach TikTok’s audience by marketing directly on the platform using a toolkit integrated with Shopify’s dashboard, the two companies said.

“More entrepreneurs are signing on to Shopify so they can quickly and easily put their ideas into action,” said Amy Shapero, Shopify’s chief financial officer. “We continue to evolve our global commerce operating system to make it easier for merchants to get online and start selling, get discovered, and get their goods to buyers, while providing a delightful shopping experience.”

#analyst, #business, #cfo, #chief-financial-officer, #e-commerce, #online-shopping, #operating-system, #president, #publishing, #shopify, #tc, #venture-capital

0

Apple search crawler activity could signal a Google competitor, or a bid to make Siri a one-stop-shop

Encouraged by the spate of antitrust activity brewing in both the Justice Department and on Capitol Hill, Apple may be developing a search competitor to Google, according to a report in the Financial Times.

That would be a move ripe with irony as the push for an end to anti-competitive practices is seemingly creating greater competition among the largest companies which already dominate the technology industry rather than between those established companies and more nimble upstarts.

Signs of Apple’s resurgent interest search technologies can be found in both a subtle but significant change to the latest version of the iOS 14 iPhone operating system and increasing activity from Apple’s spidering tools that are used to scour the web and refine search functionality, the Financial Times reported.

Apple is now showing its own search results and linking directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen in iOS 14. For context, this is a behavior that has been known for a while as people have seen the feature pop up in beta versions of iOS. And the search volume being up on Apple’s crawler is something that Jon Henshaw of Coywolf had noted back in August.

Sources cited by the Financial Times said that the change marked a significant step-change in Apple’s in-house search development and could be the basis for a broader push into search.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company certainly has the expertise. A little less than three years ago it nabbed Google’s head of search, John Giannandrea in what was widely seen as an attempt to shore up Apple’s foundations in artificial intelligence and voice search via Siri. Because of the way that Apple is organized internally, it’s unlikely that Giannandrea will be devoting full-time effort to both a potential “search product” and Siri . But it’s within the realm of possibility that he could be lending his expertise to a team working on a separate feature.

Any development of a search tool would be a third way for Apple, which now uses Google as its default search service thanks to a lucrative contract between the two (one that’s also at the heart of a Justice Department inquiry into Google’s purported anti-competitive activities around search). The only other major search services on the market rely on Microsoft’s Bing to power their results.

While the signs do point to an actual uptick in activity, there could be an explanation for Apple’s crawler activity that’s less heavy on corporate skunkworks skulduggery and more in line with goals that Apple’s stated pretty clearly.

While the story about Apple getting into direct competition with Google on search makes for a great headline, the uptick in activity could be explained equally as rationally by Siri getting more search queries and being more of an interlocutor between Apple and search services like Google or Microsoft’s Bing. This disintermediation is something that Google began years ago and has even modified and expanded over the years to combat the same kind of behavior from Siri.

Making Siri a one-stop-shop could inoculate Apple in the scenario where they are forced to enable a search provider choice in the iOS onboarding flow by regulation. It won’t do anything to help Google though, who pays Apple billions because iOS users are worth way more than any other mobile web users to its business. Google, for its part, says that when people have a choice they still pick Google anyway. Perhaps another reason why making Siri the search equivalent of an overtalker is the strong play for Apple.

TechCrunch has reached out to Apple for comment and will update when we hear back.

 

 

#apple, #apple-inc, #artificial-intelligence, #california, #computing, #cupertino, #department-of-justice, #google, #google-search, #google-voice-search, #iphone, #itunes, #john-giannandrea, #messages, #microsoft-bing, #operating-system, #search-results, #siri, #software, #tc, #techcrunch, #the-financial-times, #voice-search

0

The Justice Department has filed its antitrust lawsuit against Google

The Justice Department said it has filed its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Google, confirming an earlier report from The Wall Street Journal.

In the suit, the Justice Department is expected to argue that Google used anticompetitive practices to safeguard its monopoly position as the dominant force in search and search-advertising, which sit at the foundation of the company’s extensive advertising, data mining, video distribution, and information services conglomerate.

It would be the first significant legal challenge that Google has faced from U.S. regulators despite years of investigations into the company’s practices.

A 2012 attempt to bring the company to the courts to answer for anti-competitive practices was ultimately scuttled because regulators at the time weren’t sure they could make the case stick. Since that time Alphabet’s value has skyrocketed to reach over $1 trillion (as of today’s share price).

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, holds a commanding lead in both search and video. The company dominates the search market — with roughly 90% of the world’s internet searches conducted on its platform — and roughly three quarters of American adults turn to YouTube for video, as the Journal reported.

In the lawsuit, the Department of Justice will say that Alphabet’s Google subsidiary uses a web of exclusionary business agreements to shut out competitors. The billions of dollars that the search giant collects wind up paying mobile phone companies, carriers and browsers to make the Google search engine a preset default. That blocks competitors from being able to access the kinds of queries and traffic they’d need to refine their own search engine.

It will be those relationships — alongside Google’s insistence that its search engine come pre-loaded (and un-deletable) on phones using the Android operating system and that other search engines specifically not be pre-loaded — that form part of the government’s case, according to Justice Department officials cited by the Journal.

The antitrust suit comes on the heels of a number of other regulatory actions involving Google, which is not only the dominant online search provider, but also a leader in online advertising and in mobile technology by way of Android, as well as a strong player in a web of other interconnected services like mapping, online productivity software, cloud computing and more.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, UNITED STATES – 2020/02/23: American multinational technology company Google logo seen at Google campus. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A report last Friday in Politico noted that Democrat Attorneys General would not be signing the suit. That report said those AGs have instead been working on a bipartisan, state-led approach covering a wider number of issues beyond search — the idea being also that more suits gives government potentially a stronger bargaining position against the tech giant.

A third suit is being put together by the state of Texas, although that has faced its own issues.

While a number of tech leviathans are facing increasing scrutiny from Washington, with the US now just two weeks from Election Day, it’s unlikely that we are going to see many developments around this and other cases before then. And in the case of this specific Google suit, in the event that Trump doesn’t get re-elected, there will also be a larger personnel shift at the DoJ that could also change the profile and timescale of the case.

In any event, fighting these regulatory cases is always a long, drawn-out process. In Europe, Google has faced a series of fines over antitrust violations stretching back several years, including a $2.7 billion fine over Google shopping; a $5 billion fine over Android dominance; and a $1.7 billion fine over search ad brokering. While Goolge slowly works through appeals, there are also more cases ongoing against the company in Europe and elsewhere.

Google is not the only one catching the attention of Washington. Earlier in October, the House Judiciary Committee released a report of more than 400 pages in which it outlined how tech giants Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Facebook were abusing their power, covering everything from the areas in which they dominate, through to suggestions for how to fix the situation (including curtailing their acquisitions strategy).

That seemed mainly to be an exercise in laying out the state of things, which could in turn be used to inform further actions, although in itself, unlike the DoJ suit, the House report lacks teeth in terms of enforcement or remedies.

#alphabet, #amazon, #android, #apple, #big-tech, #europe, #facebook, #google, #google-campus, #leader, #mobile-technology, #online-advertising, #online-search, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #search-advertising, #search-engine, #tc, #texas, #trump, #united-states

0

This Week in Apps: Apple’s big event, lidar comes to iPhone, Android gets a new IDE

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

Top Story

Apple introduces four new iPhones (and more)

Apple hosted its iPhone event this week, where it introduced the new iPhone 12… and the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max — effectively plugging all the holes in the market. With the release of the four new iPhones, app developers will have a range of devices to build for, from small to very large — the 12 Pro Max, for example, introduces the iPhone’s biggest-ever screen and the highest resolution, at nearly 3.5M pixels.

It also, of course, includes serious camera improvements, from a redesign of the three-lens system to including a new deeper telephoto camera, now a 65 mm-equivalent instead of 52 mm, as on previous models. There’s also an improved wide-angle lens, larger sensor, the addition of sensor-level image stabilization and a revamped Night Mode. Photographers will appreciate the new Apple ProRAW format, as well. (More on that here).

The iPhone 12 mini, meanwhile, aims to serve the customer base that prefers a smaller phone, like the iPhone SE, but without sacrificing functionality.

All the devices share some key features, including 5G connectivity, the new MagSafe connector for wireless charging and snap-on magnetic accessories, OLED displays and the A14 chip. They also have a more classic look, with straight edges that allow for additional antennas, providing next-gen wireless connectivity.

One of the bigger differences, however, between the Pro models and the regular iPhone 12 is the addition of the LiDAR Scanner, which is also found in the latest iPad Pro. The scanner measures how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back. The new depth-sensing technology has big implications for AR, as it allows augmented reality objects to interact with objects in the real world. AR apps will be more user-friendly, too, as they won’t need to first scan the room to place the AR object in the real world. It can be placed instantly.

Apple is leveraging the sensor for the iPhone 12 Pro camera to offer up to 6x faster focus in low-light conditions. Developers, meanwhile, can leverage lidar for use cases like AR-enabled games that work in the real world, social media (like Snapchat’s new lidar-powered Lens), home design and improvement apps involving room scans, spatial layout planning (like JigSpace), better AR shopping experiences and more.

The company also announced an affordable version of its HomePod smart speaker, the $99 HomePod Mini. The item works best for those fully locked inside the Apple universe, as it will stream a handful of music services, but not one of the most popular — Spotify. However, Apple also introduced a nifty feature for the HomePod devices, Intercom, which lets you send announcements across the speakers. While Apple and Google have offered a similar feature for their smart speakers, Intercom also works across other Apple devices, including iPhone, iPod, AirPods and even CarPlay. (What, no Mac?)

If Apple isn’t too late to capture smart speaker market share, the new speaker could see more users adopting smart home devices they can voice control through the HomePod Mini.

During the event, Apple also subtly snubbed its nose at Epic’s Fortnite with the announcement that
League of Legends: Wild Rift would be coming to iPhone 12 to take advantage of its new 5G capabilities and A14 Bionic chip.

Weekly News Round-Up

Platforms

  • Lidar comes to iPhone 12 Pro. Developers can now build AR experiences that interact with real-world objects, and AR apps can now instantly place AR objects in the real world without scanning the room. The update will mean a huge increase in the usability of AR apps but is limited to the Pro model of iPhone for now. Snapchat is already using it.
  • Apple developers can now make their apps available for pre-order even earlier — up to 180 days before release on the App Store.
  • Android Studio 4.1 launches. The new, stable version of the IDE for building Android apps introduces better TensorFlow Lite support and a new database inspector. The team also fixed a whopping 2,370 bugs during this release cycle and closed 275 public issues.
  • Google introduces the Android for Cars library. The library, now in open beta, gives developers tools to design, develop and test new navigation, parking or charging apps for Android Auto. The Google Play Store will be enabled for publishing beta apps in the “coming months.”
  • Google stops selling music. The company no longer sells tracks and albums on its Play Store, shifting all its focus to YouTube Music. The latter also just launched on Apple Watch this week.

Trends

  • Shopping apps forecast. U.S. consumers were expected to spend 60M hours in Android shopping apps during Prime Day week, (which just wrapped) according to one forecast from App Annie.
  • Prime Day downloads grow. Sensor Tower estimates global installs of the Amazon app grew 23% year-over-year, to 684K, as Prime Day neared. Installs on Wednesday were up 33% to 750K. However, U.S. installs were down by 22% 10/13-10/14. Apptopia noted that app sessions, however, were up 27% year-over-year.
  • Shopping, Food & Drink app launches up more than 50% year-over-year. Shopping apps grew 52% while Food & Drink apps grew 60%, due to COVID-19 impacts, according to Sensor Tower.
  • Subscriptions. U.S. consumers spend $20.78 per month on app subscriptions, Adjust study says.
  • TikTok sale impact on ad industry. 73% of marketers said a TikTok sale in the U.S. would impact their 2021 advertising plans. 41% also believed the deal could allow Walmart to overtake Amazon in e-commerce.
  • Amazon expands AR experimentation to its boxes. The retailer launched a new AR application that works with QR codes on the company’s shipping boxes to create “interactive, shareable” AR experiences, like a pumpkin that comes to life.

Security

  • Robinhood said a “limited number” of its users’ accounts were hacked. The service itself was not hacked, but around 2,000 customers had accounts compromised by cybercriminals who first compromised users’ personal emails outside the trading app.

Other News

  • Zoom’s new events platform brings apps to video conferencing calls.
  • Messenger update brings new features, including cross-app communication with Instagram. The app gets fun features like chat themes, custom reactions and, soon, selfie stickers and vanish mode. But the bigger news is the (potentially anti-competitive) merging of Facebook’s chat platforms.
  • Life360 leverages TikTok teens’ complaints to start a dialogue and invent a new feature, “Bubbles,” which allows teens (or anyone) to share a generalized location instead of an exact one. The feature gives teens a bit more freedom to roam and make choices without so much parental oversight. Parents, meanwhile, can still be sure their teen is OK, as features like emergency SOS and crash alerts remain functional.
  • Must-read: The MacStories iOS and iPadOS 14 Review. Federico Viticci offers a 23-page deep dive into the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system.

Funding and M&A

    • Future raises $24M Series B for its $150/mo workout coaching app amid at-home fitness boom. The app pairs users with real-life fitness coaching for personal training at home. The round was led by Trustbridge Partners with Caffeinated Capital and Series A investors Kleiner Perkins participating.
    • River raises $10.4M for its app offering news, events and other happenings from around the web, ranging from news stories from top publishers to sports to even notable tweets. The app presents the information in a real-time stream, browsed vertically. There’s also a “For You” page, similar to TikTok.
    • Roblox confidentially filed with the SEC to go public. This cross-platform gaming platform has boomed during coronavirus lockdowns. According to reports, the listing could double Robox’s $4B valuation.
    • Robo Adviser Wealthsimple raises $87M. The funding for the investing app with comparisons to Robinhood was led by Menlo Park-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), valuing the business at $1B.
    • Fitness platform Playbook raises $9.3M. The company offers tools for personal trainers who want to make their own videos, which consumers then browse in Playbook’s mobile app. Backers include E.ventures, Michael Ovitz, Abstract, Algae Ventures, Porsche Ventures and FJ Labs.
    • Live streaming app Moment House raises $1.5M seed. The startup aims to recreate live events in a digital format. LA area investors invested, including Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and Jared Leto. Patreon chief executive Jack Conte and Sequoia Capital partner Jess Lee also participated.
    • Twilio acquires Segment for $3.2B to help developers build data-fueled apps.
    • E-learning platform Kahoot raises $215M from SoftBank. The Norwegian startup claims to have hosted 1.3 billion “participating players” in the last 12 months. The company’s gamified e-learning platform is used both in schools and in enterprise environments.

Downloads

Mycons

Mycons is a new app that makes it easier for users, including non-designers, to create and buy custom icons for their iOS home screen makeovers. In the app’s “Icon Studio,” users can create icons by swapping out the background, choosing a symbol and placing it on the icon accordingly. You can also create a whole set of icons in a batch export. If you don’t feel like designing your own, you can opt to purchase premade packs instead.

The app is a free download with a one-time, in-app purchase to unlock the fully functionality of the icon designer. The icon packs, which include different variations and matching wallpaper, range from $7.99-$9.99.

Spotify’s new iOS 14 widget

Image Credits: TechCrunch screenshot of Spotify widget

It’s here! The widget a number of people have waited for since the launch of the new version of iOS has arrived. 

The widget, which arrives in the latest version of the Spotify iOS app, comes in two sizes. The smaller widget will display just your most recently listened to item, while the medium-sized widget will instead show the five most recent items — four in a horizontal row and the most recent at the top. In that case, you can actually tap on the small thumbnail for which of the five you want to now stream to be taken directly to that page in the Spotify app. The widget also automatically updates its background color to match the thumbnail photo.

#android, #android-studio, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #apps, #ar, #google-play-store, #homepod, #ios, #ios-14, #ipad, #iphone, #iphone-12, #league-of-legends, #mobile-app, #operating-system, #operating-systems, #play-store, #smartphones, #tc, #this-week-in-apps

0

Crypto-driven marketplace Zora raises $2M to build a sustainable creator economy

Dee Goens and Jacob Horne have both the exact and precisely opposite background that you’d expect to see from two people building a way for creators to build a sustainable economy for their followers to participate in. Coinbase, crypto hack projects at university, KPMG, Merill Lynch. But where’s the art?

“Believe it or not, I used to have dreams of being a rapper,” laughs Goens. “There’s a Soundcloud out there somewhere. With that passion you explore the inner workings of the music industry. I would excitedly ask industry friends about the advance and 360 deal models only to realize they were completely broken.”

And, while many may be well intentioned, these deal structures of exploit artistry. In many cases taking the majority of an artist’s ownership. I grew curious why artists were unable to resource themselves from their community in an impactful way — but instead, were forced to seek out potentially predatory relationships. To me, this was bullshit.”

Horne says that he’d always wanted to create a fashion brand. 

“I always thought a fashion brand would be something I’d do after crypto,” he tells me. “I love crypto but it felt overly focused on just finance and felt like it was missing something. When I started to play with the idea of combining these two passions and starting Saint Fame.”

While at Coinbase, Horne hacked on Saint Fame, a side project that leveraged some of the ideas on display in Zora. It was a marketplace that allowed people to sell and trade items with cryptocurrency, buying intermediate variable-value tokens redeemable for future goods. 

“I realized that culture itself was shaped and built upon an old financial system that is systemically skewed against artists and communities,” says Horne. “The operating system of ownership was built in the 1600s with the Dutch East India Trading Company and early Nation States. Like what the fuck is up with that?” 

We have the internet now, we can literally create and share information to billions of people all at once, and the ownership system is the same as when people had to get on a boat for 6 months to send a letter. It’s time for an upgrade. Any community on the internet should be able to come together, with capital, and work towards any shared vision. That starts with empowering creators and artists to create and own the culture they’re creating. In the long term this moves to internet communities taking on societal endeavours.”

The answer that they’re working on is called Zora. It’s a marketplace with two main components but one philosophy: sustainable economics for creators. 

All too often creators are involved in reaping the rewards for their work only once, but the secondary economy continues to generate value out of their reach. Think of an artist, as an example, that creates a piece and sells it for market value. That’s great, but thereafter, every ounce of work that the artist puts into future work, into building a name and a brand and a community for themselves puts additional value into that piece. The artist never sees a dime from that, relying instead on the value of future releases to pay dividends on the work. 

That’s basically the way it has always worked. I have a little background in this as I used to exhibit and was involved in running a gallery and my father is a fine artist. If he sells a painting today for $300, gets a lot better, more popular and more valued over time, the owner of that painting may re-sell it for hundreds or thousands more. He will never see a dime of that. And god forbid that an artist like him gets too locked into the gallery system which slices off enormous chunks of the value of a piece for a square of wall space and the marketing cachet of a curator or storefront. 

The same story can be told across the recording industry, fashion, sports and even social media. Lots of middle-people and lots of vigs to pay. And, unsurprisingly, the same creators of color that drive so much of The Culture are the biggest losers hands down. 

The primary Zora product is a market that allows creators or artists to launch products and then continue to participate in their second market value. 

Here’s how the Zora team explains it:

On Zora, creators have the ability to set two prices: start price and max price. As community members buy and sell a token, it moves the price up or down. This makes the price dynamic as it opens price discovery on the items by the market. When people buy the token it moves the price closer to its maximum. When they sell, it moves closer to its minimum. 

For an excited community like Jeff [Staple’s], this new dynamic price can cause a quick increase in the value of his sneakers. As a creator, they capture the value from selling on a price curve as well as getting a take on trading fees from the market which they now own. What used to trade on StockX is now about to trade on a creator owned market.

There have been some early successes. Designer and marketer Jeff Staple launched a run of 30 Coca-Cola x Staple SB Dunk customs by Reverseland and their value is trending up around 234% since release. A Benji Taylor x Kevin Doan vinyl figure is up 210%

I have seen some other stabs at this. When he was still at StockX, founder Josh Luber launched their Intial Product Offerings, a Blind Dutch Auction system that allowed the market to set a price for an item, with some of the cut of pricing above market going back to the manufacturer or brand making the offering. The focus there was brands vs. individual creators (though they did launch with a Ben Baller slide). Allowing brands to tap into second market value for limited goods is a lot less of a revolution play, but the thesis is similar. I thought that was a good idea then, and I like it even better when it’s being used to democratize rather than maximize returns. 

Side note: I love that this team is messing around with interesting ideas like dogfooding their own marketplace with the value of being in their own TestFlight group. I’m sort of like, is that allowed, but at the same time it’s dope and I’ve never seen anything like it. 

Zora was founded in May of 2020 (right in the middle of this current panny-palooza). The team is Goens (Creators and Community), Horne (Product), Slava Kim (Design), Dai Hovey (Engineering), Ethan Daya (Engineering) and Tyson Batistella (Engineering). 

Zora has raised a $2M seed round led by Kindred Ventures with participation from Trevor McFedries of Brud, Alice Lloyd George, Jeff Staple, Coinbase Ventures and others.

Tokenized community

But this idea that physical goods or even digitally packaged works have to exist as finite containers of value is not a given either. Goens and Horne are pushing to challenge that too with the first big new product for Zora: community tokens. Built on Ethereum, the $RAC token is the first of its kind from Zora. André Allen Anjos, stage name RAC, is a Portuguese- American musician and producer who makes remixes that stream on the web, original music and has had commercial work featured in major brand ads. 

Though he is popular and has a following in the tens of thousands, RAC is not a social media superpower. The token distribution and subsequent activity in trades and sales is purely driven by the buy-in that his fans feel. This is a key learning for a lot of players in this new economy: raw numbers are the social media equivalent of a billboard that people drive by. It may get you eyeballs, but it doesn’t guarantee action. The modern creator is living in a house with their fans, offering them access and interacting via Discord and Snap and comments. 

But those houses are all other people’s houses, which leads into the reason that Zora is launching a token.

The token drop serves multiple purposes. 

  • It unites fans across multiple silos. Whether they’re on Intsa, Tiktok, Spotify or Snapchat, they can all earn tokens. That token serves as a unifying community unit of value that they all understand and pivot around. It’s a way to own a finite binary “atom” of an artist’s digital being.
  • It creates a pool of value that an artist can own and distribute themselves. Currently you cannot buy $RAC directly. You can only earn it. Some of that is retroactive for loyal supporters. If, for instance, you followed RAC on Bandcamp dating back to 2009, you’ll get some of a pool of 25,000 RAC. Bought a bit of RAC merch? You get some credit in tokens too. Future RAC distributions will be given to Patron supporters, merch purchasers etc.
  • The value stays in the artists universe, rather than being spun out into currency. It serves as a way for the artist to incentivize, reward and energize their followers. RAC fans who buy his mixtape get tokens, and they can redeem them for purchases of further merch. 
  • It allows more flexibility for creators whose work doesn’t fall so neatly into package-able categories. Performance art, activism, bite-sized entertainment. These are not easy to ‘drop’ for money. But if you have a circulating token that grows in value as you grow your audience, there is definitely something there. 

The future of Zora most immediately involves spinning up a self-service version of the marketplace, allowing creators and entrepreneurs to launch their products without a direct partnership and onboarding. There are many, many uncertainties here and the team has a lot of challenges ahead on the traction and messaging front. But as mentioned, some early releases have shown promise, and the philosophy is sound and much needed. As the creator universe/passion economy/what you call it depends on how old you are/fandom merchant wave rises there is definitely an opportunity to rethink how the value of their contributions are assigned and whether there is a way to turn the long-term labor of building a community into long-term value. 

The last traded price of RAC’s tape, BOY, by the way? $3,713, up 18,465%. 

#articles, #artist, #brand, #coca-cola, #coinbase, #coinbase-ventures, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #curator, #designer, #economy, #finance, #financial-technology, #kindred-ventures, #kpmg, #operating-system, #snapchat, #social-media, #spotify, #tc

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Zero’s SR/S doubles as an EV sport motorcycle and sport-tourer

Zero’s 2020 SR/S could be your EV sport bike or sport-tourer. Unveiled earlier this year, the all electric motorcycle brings performance attributes of both classes — with a unique list of pros and cons compared to gas-powered peers.

The SR/S also adds to the business mission of its manufacturer, Zero. The California based EV company has raised $137 million (according to Crunchbase) towards its aim take electric motorcycles mass-market.

SR/F to SR/S

TechCrunch took home Zero’s new SR/S for an extended test. That follows a good amount of saddle time last year in the motorcycle’s predecessor, the 2019 SR/F naked bike. At first glance, it appears Zero simply slapped a fairing on the SR/F to create the SR/S, but there’s more to it than that.

The two motorcycles are identical in many ways. They share the same trellis frame, wheels/tires, drive-train, battery, motor, charging and operating system. But in addition to the fairing, there are some small changes that yielded a distinctly better riding experience. I’ll get to that.

First, on the common specs, like the SR/F the SR/S has roughly the same top-speed of 124 mph, the same 140 ft-lbs of torque and a charge time of 60 minutes to 95%, with the six kilowatt premium charger option (a $2K upgrade).

Both the Zeros are IoT motorcycles. You can manage overall performance — including engine output and handling characteristics — through digital riding modes and from a mobile app. Each EV also has Bosch’s stability control system, which includes cornering ABS and traction control.

The major differences on the SR/S over the SR/F are the addition of the full-fairing, a more relaxed (upright) riding position (through a lower foot peg and higher bar positioning) and a 13% improvement in highway range, from improved aerodynamics (according to Zero). The Scotts Valley company also customized the suspension presets on the SR/S for the fairing and altered ride position, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch. The fairing brings around 20 pounds more weight to to the SR/S over the 485-pound SR/F.

On price, the base version of the SR/S is $19,995 — a dash over the SR/F’s $19,495 — and a premium SR/S (with a higher charging capacity) comes in at $21,995.

Living with the SR/S

While I loved the overall look and performance of Zero’s SR/F, I found the SR/S to be an even better e-motorcycle — at least for my preferences. The SR/S’s upgraded riding position increases leverage and maneuverability on the motorcycle, which translated into more comfortable long rides and better handling on twisty roads.

Similar to the SR/F, and characteristic of high-performance e-motorcycles, Zero’s SR/S brings mongo torque and lightning acceleration, sans noise or fumes. With fewer mechanical moving parts than a gas bike — and no clutch or shifting — the e-moto’s power delivery is stronger and more constant than internal combustion machines. You simply twist and go.

It’s also possible to adjust and adapt to the motorcycle’s regenerative qualities to change the way you tackle curvy rides. Regen braking not only adds power back to the battery, but also lets you dial in how much the SR/S’ motor slows down when closing the throttle. It takes some finesse, but the net result is the ability to fly through corners in a smoother manner than a gas motorcycle — with little to no mechanical braking — by simply rolling off and on the throttle.

Image Credits: Jake Bright

On range, it’s likely possible to get Zero’s advertised 161 max miles on the SR/S by keeping it in the Eco mode — with lowest power output and highest regen braking — and sticking to stop and go city riding. That’d be pretty boring, however and I didn’t test it. Over several months with the SR/S, I was able to average around a 100 miles of range by using a combo of riding modes — Eco for errands and Sport for speeding on country roads. Charge times using a 6 kW Level 2 charger came out to around an hour to an hour and twenty minutes, depending on how low the state of charge was.

On SR/S specific gripes and likes, there were a couple things on the negative side. Similar to the SR/F, I found the stopping power of the motorcycle’s four-piston, twin calipers up front to be strong, but the rear J-Juan brake soft. Zero could have also offered some different color schemes, beyond gray or dark blue, to better accentuate the motorcycle’s smooth lines. One of the company’s leading dealers, Hollywood Electrics, appears to agree on that one and started offering custom versions of the SR/S in bright white or red.

My biggest likes about the SR/S were the improved performance, versatility, and rider experience Zero was able to deliver with the fairing, peg/bar mods, and suspension setup. I did all kinds of riding on the motorcycle in and around New York and Connecticut: from commuting and backroad blasting to highway jaunts. The SR/S take the upsides of riding electric motorcycles to another level. The fairing eliminates a great deal of wind resistance. On the highway, the SR/S cruises effortlessly in the 80 – 90 mph range —  with no engine noise — giving a sensation of surfing quietly on air, vs. forcing your way through it.

The bike has the power and performance to be a weekend sport bike and a comfortable enough riding position to add some rear bags and double as an EV sport-tourer. With the e-motorcycle benefits, however, you still have to accept some compromise and inconvenience, namely around range and charging. Most gas sport and sport-touring motorcycles will get over 200 miles on a tank and top up in minutes. With the SR/S, you’d need to accept about half that range, searching for charging stations and finding something to do for about an hour when you find one. So yes, electric motorcycles do have some superior performance attributes, but they still bring trade-offs to internal combustion two-wheelers.

A boost for Zero

Zero’s latest entries — the SR/F and the SR/S — come at a time when startups are pushing the motorcycle industry toward electric.

In 2020, Harley-Davidson became the first of the big gas manufacturers to offer a street-legal e-motorcycle for sale in the U.S., the $29,000 LiveWire. Italy’s Energica has been expanding distribution of its high-performance e-motos in the U.S. And Canadian startup Damon Motors debuted its 200 mph, $24,000 Hypersport this year, which offers proprietary safety and ergonomics tech for adjustable riding positions and blind-spot detection.

Image Credits: Jake Bright

It’s not evident there’s enough demand out there to buy up all these new models, particularly given the Covid-19 induced global recession. But however competition between e-motorcycle sellers plays out, Zero has given itself an advantage with the SR/S. By upgrading an existing platform, the California based company was able to enter two new classes with one model, to offer an electric sport-bike and an electric sport-tourer to the masses.

#california, #connecticut, #damon-motorcycles, #e-moto, #e-motorcycle, #e-motorcycles, #electric-motorcycles, #energica, #harley-davidson, #italy, #motorcycle, #motorcycles, #operating-system, #polaris, #tc, #united-states, #zero, #zero-motorcycles

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Standing by developers through Google v. Oracle

The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in Google v. Oracle. This case raises a fundamental question for software developers and the open-source community: Whether copyright may prevent developers from using software’s functional interfaces — known as APIs — to advance innovation in software. The court should say no — free and open APIs protect innovation, competition and job mobility for software developers in America.

When we use an interface, we don’t need to understand (or care) about how the function on the other side of the interface is performed. It just works. When you sit down at your computer, the QWERTY keyboard allows you to rapidly put words on the screen. When you submit an online payment to a vendor, you are certain the funds will appear in the vendor’s account. It just works.

In the software world, interfaces between software programs are called “application programming interfaces” or APIs. APIs date back to the 1950s and allow developers to write programs that reuse other program functionality without knowing how that functionality is performed. If your program needs to sort a list, you could have it use a sorting program’s API to sort the list for your program. It just works.

Developers have historically used software interfaces free of copyright concerns, and this freedom has accelerated innovation, software interoperation and developer job mobility. Developers using existing APIs save time and effort, allowing those savings to be refocused on new ideas. Developers can also reimplement APIs from one software platform to others, enabling innovation to flow freely across software platforms.

Importantly, reusing APIs gives developers job portability, since knowledge of one set of APIs is more applicable cross-industry. The upcoming Google v. Oracle decision could change this, harming developers, open-source software and the entire software industry.

Google v. Oracle and the platform API bargain

Google v. Oracle is the culmination of a decade-long dispute. Back in 2010, Oracle sued Google, arguing that Google’s Android operating system infringed Oracle’s rights in Java. After ten years, the dispute now boils down to whether Google’s reuse of Java APIs in Android was copyright infringement.

Prior to this case, most everyone assumed that copyright did not cover the use of functional software like APIs. Under that assumption, competing platforms’ API reimplementation allowed developers to build new yet familiar things according to the API bargain: Everyone could use the API to build applications and platforms that interoperate with each other. Adhering to the API made things “just work.”

But if the Google v. Oracle decision indicates that API reimplementation requires copyright permission, the bargain falls apart. Nothing “just works” unless platform makers say so; they now dictate rules for interoperability — charging developers huge prices for the platform or stopping rival, compatible platforms from being built.

Free and open APIs are essential for modern developers

If APIs are not free and open, platform creators can stop competing platforms from using compatible APIs. This lack of competition blocks platform innovation and harms developers who cannot as easily transfer their skills from project to project, job to job.

MySQL, Oracle’s popular database, reimplemented mSQL’s APIs so third-party applications for mSQL could be “ported easily” to MySQL. If copyright had restricted reimplementation of those APIs, adoption of MySQL, reusability of old mSQL programs and the expansion achieved by the “LAMP” stack would have been stifled, and the whole ecosystem would be poorer for it. This and other examples of API reimplementation — IBM’s BIOS, Windows and WINE, UNIX and Linux, Windows and WSL, .NET and Mono, have driven perhaps the most amazing innovation in human history, with open-source software becoming critical digital infrastructure for the world.

Similarly, a copyright block on API-compatible implementations puts developers at the mercy of platform makers say so — both for their skills and their programs. Once a program is written for a given set of APIs, that program is locked-in to the platform unless those APIs can also be used on other software platforms. And once a developer learns skills for how to use a given API, it’s much easier to reuse than retrain on APIs for another platform. If the platform creator decides to charge outrageous fees, or end platform support, the developer is stuck. For nondevelopers, imagine this: The QWERTY layout is copyrighted and the copyright owner decided to charge $1,000 dollars per keyboard. You would have a choice: Retrain your hands or pay up.

All software used by anyone was created by developers. We should give developers the right to freely reimplement APIs, as developer ability to shift applications and skills between software ecosystems benefits everyone — we all get better software to accomplish more.

I hope that the Supreme Court’s decision will pay heed to what developer experience has shown: Free and open APIs promote freedom, competition, innovation and collaboration in tech.

#android, #apis, #column, #developer, #google, #government, #java, #lawsuit, #open-source-software, #operating-system, #opinion, #oracle-corporation, #supreme-court

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Founded by former SpaceX engineers, First Resonance pitches tools to make things the SpaceX way

After operating in stealth mode for about two years, First Resonance, a company founded by former SpaceX engineers, is finally showing the world their software toolkit designed to let manufacturers make things using the processes employed by their former boss.

It’s a suite of software products that can allow for more flexible manufacturing processes and one that can handle the pressures of remote monitoring for companies making hardware in the age of social distancing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our first few customers really grew using [the software] and facilitating that at home factory workflow,” said First Resonance co-founder Karan Talati. 

The software that First Resonance has developed allows manufacturers to coordinate their workflow processes. “This is really driven off of us being in that driver’s seat at SpaceX and working with our counterparts in manufacturing and refurb,” Talati said. “Underlying it all is a data platform that allows these companies to make use of insights to improve their designs as well as their manufacturing processes.”

On the process side, that means reducing waste, and making the manufacturing of goods more efficient. But the software — and the information it’s collecting from manufacturing — can be used to inform better design decisions and the upstream product development process, Talati said.

Already the company’s tech is being used by a crew of cutting edge manufacturers including Phase FourJoby Aviation and Iron Ox.

Admittedly, the software works best for companies that are building new manufacturing processes and capabilities and don’t have a lot of legacy infrastructure to start with. Part of the reason that Tesla and SpaceX have been able to achieve the cost reductions they have is by redesigning systems to operate more flexibly and adapt to information that’s coming off of the product line, Talati said. “That’s how we were able to achieve the order of magnitude cost reduction that is the Falcon 9… applying data upstream and feeding that data back and embracing that chaos.”

Talati said that many manufacturers rely on processes that are overly rigid and need to be untangled. Already, big aerospace, defense, and auto manufacturers are acquiring or partnering with newer manufacturing startups to take advantage of the expertise and flexibility these companies offer. Talati pointed to Millennium Space System’s acquisition by Boeing and the contract that Hermeus received to design a hypersonic Air Force 1 jet. “We really evolve through enabling that new culture of agile manufacturing,” Talati said.

The company currently has six customers (with the bulk of them signing on in June and July) and charges per-seat in a traditional software as a service model.

To date, First Resonance has raised under $2 million from local Los Angeles investors including Fika Ventures, Wavemaker, Stage Venture Partners and Village Global. 

The Los Angeles-based company harvested talent from SpaceX, NASA, Lexus, and other aerospace and car manufacturers and is tackling an emerging market for industrial software that could reach $14.9 billion, according to research from the analytics firm Markets and Markets provided by the company. 

Much of that demand is being driven by the diaspora of SpaceX talent into the broader aerospace and defense and manufacturing ecosystem, said Talati. That’s also a great selling point for the company when it makes its pitch, he said.

“That makes it quite easy for us… there’s a very easy way for us to say, ‘That thing we were working on together… Well… We’re doing it at the kind of unit economics where you don’t need a billionaire CEO to finance it.’”

The lessons from SpaceX around empowering individuals and giving them connectivity into the system, enables the company to continue to innovate on its iterative products, Talati said. And First Resonance is providing a toolkit other companies can use to bring that mindset into their own manufacturing.

“We invested in First Resonance because the founders Karan and Neal are uniquely qualified to build this company thanks to their experience at SpaceX and Uptake Technologies,” said Mikal Khoso, Associate, Wavemaker Partners, in a statement. “The digitization of manufacturing is a long-overdue revolution in an industry full of outdated technology and methods. First Resonance is building the factory operating system for modern manufacturing, helping hardware companies build 21st-century products in a 21st-century fashion.”

#aerospace, #air-force, #boeing, #california, #co-founder, #driver, #elon-musk, #fika-ventures, #hyperloop, #iron-ox, #los-angeles, #manufacturing, #operating-system, #spaceflight, #spacex, #tc, #tesla, #village-global, #wavemaker-partners

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Here’s everything Apple revealed at its September hardware event today

Apple announced a ton of new devices and features today at its September hardware event, but no word on its upcoming iPhones. That’s expected later in the month, maybe next.

In case you missed Apple’s hour-long keynote, here’s everything that was announced — including some things you might have missed.

Apple Watch

One of Apple’s big announcements is the new Apple Watch Series 6, priced at $399. The new wearable comes with a new Apple S6 silicon chip with an always-on energy-saving display. It also lands with a blood oxygen sensor.

Apple also announced a newer low-cost wearable, Apple Watch SE, which it priced at $279.

Family Setup: The new Family Setup option lets families stay connected, even when some members of the family don’t have an iPhone. It also comes with a family tracking feature, which lets parents make sure their kids have checked into school or sports practice, for example.

Fitness+: Apple is launching a new fitness subscription, landing at $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year. The service is available from inside the Activity app, and takes aim at in-home fitness services, which have taken off in part because of the ongoing pandemic. But so far, the fitness market doesn’t seem too flustered by the move.

Solo Loop: You can now get a Solo Loop for your Apple Watch, a single band that drops the standard clasp in favor of stretchy silicon. It comes in seven colors and a range of sizes.

The new Apple Watch Series 6 arrives September 18.

Apple iPad

Next up, the iPad. Apple said it’s refreshing the iPad line-up with a new fourth-generation iPad Air. The new slimline iPad Air lands with a 10.9-inch 2360×1640 resolution Retina display and replaces the Lightning port with a USB-C cable. The new iPad Air comes with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, and a new 12-megapixel, 4K-capable rear camera.

New A14 Bionic chip: Apple unveiled its new, super-fast five nanometer A14 Bionic chip, landing in the new iPad Air. It’s packed with close to 12 billion transistors, 40% up on the previous iteration of chips, and has a 16-core neural engine for apps that rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

New colors: Apple has two new colors on top of the existing silver, space gray and rose gold to now include green and sky blue.

New eighth-generation iPad: The new eighth-generation iPad got a refresh, too, packed with an earlier A12 Bionic chip, giving the iPad a much-needed performance boost.

Apple One

With an Apple subscription for TV, music, games, as well as iCloud storage charges, Apple is rolling its subscriptions into one place under its new Apple One plan. There are three tiers — one for individuals, another for families, and the top-tier includes the full package of Apple’s subscription services.

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 14, and tvOS 14

Apple said its long-awaited software updates will arrive tomorrow — September 16. That includes iOS 14 for iPhones, iPadOS 14 for iPads, watchOS 14 for Apple Watch wearables and tvOS14 for Apple TV boxes.

And iOS 14 comes with new privacy and security features, a new and improved Maps, a redesigned Siri and a new in-built translator app.

No word yet on macOS Big Sur, Apple’s next desktop and laptop operating system. A release date is expected out in the next few weeks ahead of the holiday season.

#apple, #apple-hardware-event-2020, #apple-tv, #apps, #hardware, #ios, #ipad, #iphone, #operating-system, #tvos

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Android 11 has arrived

Google today announced the launch of Android 11, the latest version of its mobile operating system. After a slightly longer public preview, users who own a select number of Pixel devices (starting with the Pixel 2), OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO or realme phones will now see the update roll out to their phones in the coming days, with others launching their updates over the next few months.

Android 11 isn’t a radical departure from what you’ve come to expect in recent years, but there are a number of interesting new user-facing updates here that mostly center around messaging, privacy and giving you better control over all of your smart devices.

At the core of the improved messaging and communication features are improved notifications for conversations from your messaging apps. These now live in a dedicated space at the top of the notification shade and feature a more “people-forward design,” as the company describes it. The new Bubbles API now also makes chat bubbles a core part of the Android messaging experience.

One addition feature Google lists under the communications section is screen recording, which is now finally a built-in tool that lets you record what’s happening on your screen, using either the sound from your mic, the device or both. Until now, you needed third-party apps like AZ Screen Recorder for this (and you will still need these for more advanced features like live streaming, for example).

Image Credits: Google

As for controlling your smart devices, Google notes how you now simply long-press your power button to get access to a new menu that gives you access to device controls (similar to what you’d find in the Google Home app, but with a different design), as well as payment methods and your boarding passes, for example. And yes, you can still restart and power off your device from there, too.

Media controls are getting a redesign, too, with the controls moving out of the notifications and to the quick settings bar instead. From there, it is now also easier to choose where you want to play your audio and video.

Over the last few years, the Android team added a number of privacy features to the operating system, but this clearly remains a moving target. With this update, the focus is on app permissions. It’s now easier to provide an app with one-time permissions to access your microphone, camera and location, helping you to ensure that an app won’t have perpetual access to your location, for example. After you haven’t used an app for a while, Android will also reset your permissions and you’ll have to re-grant access to the app the next time you launch it.

On the enterprise side, Google is also launching some new features to help employees who use some personal apps on their work phone keep their personal profile data and activity out of the hands of their company’s IT departments.

If you own a compatible phone, you should see an upgrade notification for Android 11 soon.

#android, #computing, #google, #google-pixel, #mobile, #mobile-operating-system, #mobile-phones, #oneplus, #operating-system, #smart-devices, #smartphones, #tc, #xiaomi

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Google makes building Android apps on Chrome OS easier

Google today launched ChromeOS.dev, a new site that aims to help developers get started with building Android apps for the company’s Linux-based operating system. With today’s update, Google is also making it easier to build and test Android applications on chromebooks.

The new ChromeOS.dev site, which is available in English and Spanish for now, is meant to “help developers maximize their capabilities on the platform through technical resources/tutorials, product announcements, code samples and more,” a Google spokesperson told us. As Google notes in today’s announcement, in the last quarter, Chromebook unit sales were up 127% year-over-year in the last quarter, compared to 40% for notebook sales in general.

To help Android developers do all of their work on a Chromebook if they so desire, Google now offers the full Android Emulator on Chrome OS to test apps right on their Chromebooks. The team also made deploying apps on Chrome OS (M81 and newer) much easier. Developers can now deploy and test apps directly without having to use developer mode or connect devices via USB.

Image Credits: Google

In addition to these Android-centric updates, Google also today launched a small but welcome update to the Linux beta, with a focus on the terminal. With this, Linux on Chrome OS now features an improved terminal that now includes tabs, shortcuts, themes and redesigned terminal settings.

Android Studio, too, is getting a minor update with a new Primary/Detail Activity Template that now better supports building apps for large-screen devices like Chromebook, tablets and foldables (right in time for Microsoft’s Surface Duo announcement today).

#android, #chrome-os, #chromeos, #developer, #developers, #google, #linux, #operating-system, #operating-systems

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