Congress Schools Education Apps On Student Privacy

A new bill would provide K–12 students with robust data privacy protections.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

As public schools scramble to answer calls for educational innovation with tablet programs and online learning systems, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are growing increasingly concerned about the privacy risks such tools pose to students.

On Wednesday, Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, and Rep. Luke Messer, a Republican from Indiana, introduced the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, legislation that would update the privacy protections afforded to students as the schools they attend embrace digital education. Specifically, the bill prohibits education companies from selling student data to third parties or using it for noneducational purposes. Also forbidden: targeted advertising.

"Digital student records, learning apps, electronic testing, and classroom tablets all mean that an enormous amount of information is being collected on students, from the day they enter kindergarten to the moment they graduate or enter the workforce," Rep. Polis said. "Students and parents have every right to expect that the millions of data points collected on them every day are safeguarded in a responsible way."

The student data privacy bill is intended to do just that. Not only does it ensure that ed-tech companies disclose the types of K–12 student data they collect and how it is used, it also requires them to enforce strong data protections and to notify the Federal Trade Commission and any affected parties in the event of a security breach.

"Every day, students turn over hoards of data without adequate privacy safeguards," Khaliah Barnes, director of the Student Privacy Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told BuzzFeed News. "And many companies are churning profits from students' information and otherwise taking and using student information out of context."

Though critical of the weaker privacy protections in earlier drafts of the bill, Barnes now supports it. She said the bill as it is currently written empowers parents and educators, and offers strong protections against data mining.

"Both sides of the aisle can agree that student information is not for sale," Barnes said. "Students should have the freedom to learn in the classroom without the fear that every click, everything that they write is used in a way that they did not intend."

While many states have student data privacy laws, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act would create a federal baseline to support the patchwork of state law. Supporters hope the bill will serve as a precursor to future legislation that will extend privacy protections to all students, not just K–12.

Big Insurer Expands Coverage For Telemedicine

It just got easier for 1 million UnitedHealthcare members to see the doctor from the comfort of home.

Doctor on Demand

UnitedHealthcare, the largest health insurance carrier in the United States, is widening its footprint in telemedicine.

On Thursday, the company began offering insurance coverage for telemedicine services to a larger subset of subscribers, allowing 1 million people to receive virtual medical help from Doctor on Demand, the NowClinic, and Amwell. For a maximum copay of $50 per visit, eligible subscribers can chat with a physician through their smartphones, tablets, or computers.

United's announcement is a victory for the emerging industry. Patients with short-term issues like sinus infections, skin rashes, and pinkeye — not emergency situations or chronic conditions — can now turn to the 1,400 or so physicians behind Doctor on Demand, the venture-backed startup co-founded by Dr. Phil. If patients report their conditions are continuing or worsening, Doctor on Demand will refer them to an in-person physician, said CEO and co-founder Adam Jackson.

"Every Doctor on Demand visit is preventing a more expensive in-office visit," he told BuzzFeed News.

With the nation facing an estimated shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians over the next decade, United's move is timely and recognizes the growing popularity of seeking health advice from the comfort of your home. Worldwide, the number of patients using telehealth services is expected to hit 7 million in 2018, 20 times the number in 2013, according to projections by IHS Technology.

One of the biggest hurdles slowing telemedicine's adoption has been insurance coverage. Medicare and Medicaid have historically treated an online doctor's consultation as different from an in-person visit, sometimes paying for telehealth visits when a patient lives in a rural area. And while some states like California support the practice, others, like Texas, are moving to restrict it.

United's announcement makes telemedicine services now available to people in self-funded employer health plans, and will expand next year to people with employer-sponsored insurance and individual plans. (Some United members have already been covered for NowClinic visits.) In total, by Jan. 1, 2016, the number of members with access will reach about 20 million, United said.

Lawmakers Challenge FBI On Surveillance Backdoors, Encryption

Congress pushes back against the FBI’s calls for backdoors to encrypted smartphone data.

Maxkabakov / Getty Images

Days after the House of Representatives passed two cybersecurity bills designed to protect Americans from criminal data breaches, lawmakers heard arguments over surveillance "backdoors" that would allow the FBI and other government agencies access to encrypted data.

The FBI has recently criticized the strong level of encryption Google, Apple, and other tech companies use to protect user data. Last fall, FBI Director James B. Comey told an audience at the Brookings Institute, "We have the legal authority to intercept and access communications and information pursuant to court order, but we often lack the technical ability to do so." On Wednesday, an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee examined the FBI's requests for a mandate that would require some tech companies to build into their products backdoors that would facilitate surveillance by law enforcement.

Some in law enforcement insist robust data encryption can hinder criminal investigations and even pose a threat to national security.

During the Wednesday hearing, Daniel Conley, a Boston district attorney, said data encryption can place an "impenetrable barrier around evidence." In his testimony, he attacked Apple and Google for unintentionally providing a safe space in which criminals can operate.

"When corporate interests place crucial evidence beyond the legitimate reach of our courts, they are in fact granting those who rape, defraud, assault or even kill a profound legal advantage over victims in society," Conley said.

Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, disagreed. "Creating a pathway to decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid," he said.

Lieu took exception to Conley's argument, pointing out the threat to civil liberties allowing law enforcement backdoor access to private data presents. "Apple and Google don't have coercive power, district attorneys do, the FBI does, the [National Security Agency] does," he said. "And to me its very simple to draw the privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: Just follow the damn Constitution."

This focus on a citizen's reasonable right to privacy and apprehension toward mandated backdoors was a bipartisan concern. Texas Republican and Subcommittee Chairman William Hurd said, "As a former CIA officer, I understand and appreciate the need and desire for law enforcement to access digital information in a timely manner. However, I also understand the protections afforded to Americans provided by the Constitution."

Amy Hess, the FBI's executive assistant director for the science and technology branch, defended the use of backdoors for criminal investigations, but noted that they must be implemented thoughtfully and securely.

"What we are asking for is not to lower [encryption] standards by developing some type of lawful intercept or lawful access capability," Hess told the committee. "But rather to come up with way that we may be able to implement, perhaps, multiple keys or some other way to be able to securely access the information or be provided with the information."

When asked by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, Hess did not specify whether the Justice Department considers geolocation data content or metadata, which informs the constitutionality of data searches. She declined also to state in public the circumstances necessary for federal law enforcement to collect location data without a warrant, distinctions that animate unresolved constitutional questions of government power and surveillance technology.

Three tech and policy cryptology experts argued that backdoors necessarily introduce security vulnerabilities. Mathew Blaze, professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania, said mandated backdoors are technically challenging and can enable exploits by bad actors. Jon Potter, president of the Application Developers Alliance, argued that backdoors invite foreign powers to develop their own workarounds and stifle business opportunities for American companies abroad. And Kevin Bankston, policy director of New America's Open Technology Institute, suggested that mandated backdoors won't do much to decrease threats to public safety.

"The ultimate question isn't what will make law enforcement's job easier in some investigations," Bankston said. "The ultimate question is what will prevent more crime."

Though Hess and Conley framed the need for backdoors as a grand, law-and-order tension between privacy and security, personal liberty, and national security, the other three witnesses argued that encryption is a useful tool — for government agencies and for the rest of society.

The bipartisan committee members' skepticism toward calls for surveillance backdoors echoes earlier efforts by Congress to halt similar measures, like February's Secure Data Act. Increasing the use of encryption and urging American companies to do so was one of the official recommendations offered by President Obama's Review Group, a panel tasked with evaluating the NSA's surveillance programs in the wake of Edward Snowden's disclosures in 2013. During Wednesday's hearing, it was clear the committee had taken that recommendation to heart.

Said Chaffetz, "Do we allow the 99% of Americans who are good, honest, decent, hardworking, patriotic people to have encrypted phones, or do we need to leave a backdoor open and create vulnerability for all of them?"

Goldman Sachs Makes Its First Big Investment In Bitcoin

Goldman is co-leading a $50 million financing round in Circle Internet Financial, a bitcoin wallet company. The investment lends some Wall Street credibility to the bitcoin world.

Mark Lennihan / AP

An effort to make bitcoin go mainstream just got some muscle from Wall Street.

Goldman Sachs has co-led a $50 million financing round in Circle Internet Financial, a bitcoin payments startup, according to an announcement Wednesday night. The deal, Goldman's first strategic investment related to bitcoin, lends some buttoned-up credibility to an industry often seen as the province of anarchic techies.

Circle, which was started in 2013 by Jeremy Allaire, is among a small number of tech startups trying to introduce bitcoin to the broader public. The company — which offers a digital wallet that lets people store bitcoins, send them to each other, and pay for things at retailers that accept the digital currency — has received backing from some big names in tech, like the venture capitalist Jim Breyer.

As it tries to expand its appeal, Circle also announced on Wednesday that it would go beyond bitcoin and allow users to hold regular old dollars. That will put the young company into competition with the likes of Venmo, which is part of PayPal, and other money transfer and payment services.

Goldman, for its part, didn't offer much in the way of explanation for its bet on Circle. Tom Jessop, the Goldman managing director who worked on the deal, said in a prepared statement that he thought Circle's "product vision and exceptional management team present a compelling opportunity in the digital payments space."

"As the financial services industry continues to become more digital and open, we see significant opportunities in companies and solutions that have the promise to transform global markets through technical innovation," he said.

Mark Lennihan / AP

The group at Goldman that made the investment, known as Principal Strategic Investments, tends to buy stakes in financial technology companies. It has previously invested, for example, in Motif, an upstart online broker, and the data company Markit.

Linking up with Circle brings Goldman closer to a technology that its own research group has described as cutting-edge. In a report in March, Goldman analysts said bitcoin and other new payment technologies "have the opportunity to disrupt traditional in-person money transfer services provided by Western Union and many large banks."

Goldman led the investment alongside IDG Capital Partners, a venture capital firm based in China. Circle said it was hoping to use IDG's expertise to develop a way for people to convert Chinese currency into dollars through bitcoin.

For all of Circle's big ambitions, though, bitcoin remains confined to a niche, even after a burst of publicity in 2013. Bitcoin evangelists describe a possible future where money moves seamlessly across borders, bypassing the traditional bank channels, but that future has yet to materialize.

These evangelists also point out the advantages for merchants that accept bitcoin as a form of payment, including lower transaction costs than for credit cards. Some merchants have signed on, including Expedia and Dell, but they are a relative few.

By accepting dollars, Circle is hoping to attract people who have been spooked by bitcoin's volatility over the past few years. The company says that users with dollars in their accounts will be able to make payments over the bitcoin network, since Circle will automatically convert the dollars to bitcoin and back again.

"This way, customers can choose to view bitcoin not as a new currency to replace the dollar, but as an internet payment network that enables secure, instant, global and nearly free payments," the company said.

A number of bitcoin-related companies have attracted investment capital over the last year or so. Coinbase, a bitcoin payments and exchange company, has received more than $100 million from the New York Stock Exchange and other investors. The brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, major fans of bitcoin, have sought to create an exchange for the virtual currency.

Circle wouldn't disclose its number of users or its valuation in its financing round. Allaire, the CEO, would say only that the user count was a "six-figure number," which could be as low as 100,000.

Circle doesn't have any meaningful net revenue, Allaire said. But he added, "We have plenty of cash."


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Flywheel Now Lets You Pay For Taxis On A Mobile App

The taxi-hailing app hopes the new feature will give it a leg up on Uber and Lyft.

Flywheel press kit

Flywheel, the taxi-hailing app that is in seven cities along the West Coast, is rolling out a new feature that will allow users to pay for normal cabs via a mobile app — if the cabbie is part of Flywheel's network. Called "Pay by Flywheel," the feature will allow users to take advantage of both the ubiquity of taxis and the convenience of mobile payments — and, therefore, act as a challenge to Flywheel competitors Uber and Lyft.

"It's sort of a best-of-both-worlds solution," CEO Rakesh Mathur told BuzzFeed News. "[We become] a mobile payments company and give riders that convenience for the subset of taxis that are Flywheel-enabled."

This will only work for taxis registered to the Flywheel platform — but that's a large number, especially in Flywheel's West Coast home market. In San Francisco, for example, 1,500 of the city's registered 1,800 taxis are part of Flywheel's platform. (Flywheel would not disclose other cities' numbers.)

Flywheel, which relies on existing taxis, has come up against steep competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft in the last few years. For much of Uber's early days, CEO Travis Kalanick publicly criticized the taxi industry and presented his service, which depends on private drivers, as a solution to the issues of quality and reliability riders may have come across in taxis. But Mathur hopes that with the introduction of Pay by Flywheel, the company will have a chance to capitalize on its advantage — namely, that taxis are the only class of commercial vehicle that can legally respond to street hails in most cities.

"You cannot walk into an Uber or Lyft — there's no way to do that," Mathur said. "What licensed taxis have that Uber, etc. doesn't is that you can actually walk into a taxi and people actually do that all the time."

Flywheel press kit

"What we're demonstrating here with this product is our uniquenesses that the taxi industry has that ride-share doesn't," he continued. "And we're combining that with technology and I think that's a level of delight that you can't do if you've got to wait 2-3 minutes for a taxi."

Now, he said, users in cities where hailing a taxi might be quicker than e-hailing an Uber or Lyft can shave a few more minutes off their rides and still enjoy the convenience of cashless transactions.

In addition to launching Pay by Flywheel, the company also announced that it is adding one more city to its roster: Portland, Oregon. As BuzzFeed News reported, Portland recently changed its anti-ride-hail regulation and legalized Uber and Lyft, allowing the companies to work within a temporary, 120-day legal framework. During this test run, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is also allowing new ride-hail companies, whether taxi or otherwise, to enter the market so the agency can learn about what works best.


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Oracle Is Not Courting Salesforce

You can strike Larry Ellison and Co. off the short list of possible bidders — for now.

Eric Risberg / AP

Salesforce may well be listening to takeover offers, but not from Oracle, BuzzFeed News has learned.

Following a Wednesday afternoon report from Bloomberg claiming the business software and services company has been approached with an offer, speculative chatter pointed to Oracle as the most likely acquirer.

That's a reasonable assumption; but it's an inaccurate one. While Salesforce's cloud computing prowess may well make it attractive to Oracle, and Oracle may well have the financial heft and merger chops to devour it, it hasn't made a move to do so.

Sources close to Oracle say the company has not approached Salesforce with an offer, though it could certainly afford to make one. So as entertaining an idea as Oracle co-founder and chairman Larry Ellison reuniting with former protégé and longtime frenemy Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff might be, as intriguing a story as Oracle orchestrating the largest ever takeover of a software company sounds, it's not happening right now. As much as it makes sense to include Oracle on a short list of possible bidders for Salesforce, you can strike it off — for the moment, anyway.

So who's left that could afford Salesforce's very-likely close to $50 billion asking price and has a reason to pay it? Microsoft, IBM, or someone else entirely. The more interesting question? Why would Salesforce, which in February pledged to hit about $6.5 billion in revenue by the end of its 2016 fiscal year, ever sell?

A spokesperson for Salesforce declined to comment on takeover rumors as did a spokeswoman for Oracle.

Here's What You Need To Know About Windows 10

Straight from Microsoft Build 2015.

Microsoft Build

Here are some of the key takeaways:

Goodbye, Internet Explorer. Windows 10 comes with a new built-in browser called Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge, which staffers have referred to as "Project Spartan" until today, has built-in Cortana (the company's personal assistant that's similar to Siri), built-in note-taking and sharing features, and a more personalized "new tab" tab.

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Secret Shutting Down

The app for sharing anonymous updates is in the process of closing its doors.

Secret

BuzzFeed News has learned that just over a year after it debuted, Secret — the anonymous social app that made headlines around the world as a possible harbinger of truly anonymous social networking — is closing shop.

David Byttow, Secret's founder and CEO, notified employees on Tuesday and began the process of issuing severance packages, sources tell BuzzFeed News. Byttow has not returned requests for comment.

Once a hotbed of Silicon Valley gossip, Secret has been losing momentum since its high-profile launch. The app has reportedly been hemorrhaging users as of late and, at the end of 2014, underwent a major redesign, favoring text-only posts rather than photos.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

Android And iOS Apps Are Coming To Windows 10 — Sort Of

Microsoft makes it easy for developers to rework code written for rival platforms to run on Windows devices.

Mikko Stig / Getty Images

Microsoft has finally figured out a way to bolster its piddling share of the smartphone OS market: by giving developers an easy way to port Android and iOS apps to Windows 10 so they can run on Windows devices, notably phones.

Onstage at Microsoft's annual Build developers conference, Windows division boss Terry Myerson said the company has developed an easy way for developers to reuse existing Android and iOS code to build apps for Windows.

"We're allowing you to reuse nearly all of the Java and C++ code from Android phone apps to create apps for phones running Windows 10," Myerson said. "To make this possible, Windows 10 will include an Android subsystem."

To rework iOS apps, Microsoft has developed an Objective-C compiler that recompiles applications written for Apple devices to work on Windows 10 mobile devices.

Microsoft's move to help developers easily rework their Android and iOS applications on Windows phones is a dramatic shift for the company and a tacit acknowledgment that it has so far been unable to develop a world class mobile app ecosystem to rival those of Google and Apple. Despite its best efforts, Microsoft has failed to claim any significant share in the smartphone market.

According to February metrics from IDC, Windows Phone accounts for only 4.2% of the smartphone OS market. Meanwhile, Android and iOS have claimed more than 93%. A key reason for that: Microsoft's fumbled early runs at the smartphone market, which hampered the growth of the broad app ecosystem that is today table stakes for success. If Microsoft truly hopes to be a viable third-place hopeful in the smartphone market, giving developers a quick and dirty way to port their Android and iOS apps to Windows could do much to bolster its app offerings and fill the holes in its mobile app ecosystem.

But in doing so, Microsoft is taking a big risk. It's giving developers one more reason not bother writing native mobile apps for Windows phones. Potentially more problematic: It's setting itself up to code behind Apple and Google to ensure apps ported to Windows continue to work well as those operating systems evolve. While the company clearly has the resources to pull that off, scrambling to keep up with Google and Apple is not at all a good place to be.

This Is What Happens When A Guy From Rwanda Finds Out He's Been Internet Famous For Months

He’s the unwitting star of a Vine that’s been seen 32 million times – but who is the “Okay Guy”? BuzzFeed News finally tracked him down.

If you've spent any time on social media in the last few months, you might have seen this Vine.

vine.co

The Vine was published on 29 December by 18-year-old Lilianna Hogan, from California, who was on holiday with her family in Rwanda.

The original has now been viewed more than 32 million times, becoming one of the best-known Vines in recent months.

Inevitably, it's become a meme, being remixed into a dizzying range of scenarios by other Viners: It was spliced into films such as Star Wars and used as a punchline to a series of visuals gags (attracting another 22 million views). Even Justin Bieber made his own tribute.

In an email to Fusion in March, Hogan offered some more information: "His name is Jackson and he is very sweet," she said. "I was trying to video my mother getting mad at her phone then it turned into a landscape but then Jackson was there. Then it went viral LOL."

Hogan said she felt a bit awkward when the video began to go viral. "At first, it really freaked me out and I did not like it because I felt like everyone was just laughing at Jackson because he's black, and that's what people do on Vine," she said.

She also explained that that she believed Jackson was staring at her because he found her attractive. "He was so extremely sweet and it was flattering that someone so sweet was attracted to me," she added. However, she didn't remember the name of his tour company, so couldn't help track him down.

Intrigued, BuzzFeed News made enquiries – and managed to track him down. Meet Bizagwira Marc, aka "Okay Guy".

Intrigued, BuzzFeed News made enquiries – and managed to track him down. Meet Bizagwira Marc, aka "Okay Guy".

Stephen Abbott Pugh / BuzzFeed


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Instagram Launches Dedicated Music Channel @Music

The Facebook-owned social network’s first category-specific vertical will showcase popular and emerging artists.

Jared Eberhardt / Instagram

In a first for Instagram, the photo-sharing social network will use its considerable resources to promote a specific kind of content on the platform: music. The Facebook-owned company has launched a new, internally operated account, @Music, that it will use to showcase musicians and music lovers in the Instagram community.

Among the more than 300 million people who use Instagram, the company says more than 25% of the most popular accounts belong to musicians. Since it launched in 2010, the platform has become an integral promotions and communications tool for artists, and a go-to source of news and entertainment for fans. It's where Taylor Swift shared a candid celebratory moment after first going No. 1, and where Beyoncé, the most-followed person on Instagram with 31 million followers, spoke out during Ferguson.

"Artists are using Instagram as a companion to the art that they're making," said Jonathan Hull, Instagram's head of music partnerships, in an interview with BuzzFeed News. "Musicians lead really interesting lives, and Instagram has become a way for them to show their fans who they are and to give them a look inside of their world."

After today, the @Music account will update once daily Tuesday through Sunday. Content will include short profiles of featured artists and a mix of editorial series, including one offering 15-second music lessons and another spotlighting independent artists in cities around the world. Beyond drawing attention to the A-listers among its ranks, representatives for Instagram said a primary goal of @Music will be spotlighting dynamic emerging talent.

"We're looking to break artists," said Alex Suskind, music editor at Instagram. "One of the things we're focusing on is emerging and unsigned talent who are using the platform to share their music and their stories in a unique way."

Two profiles will be launching on the account today that will telegraph the breadth of Instagram's ambitions for the program. One will be of Questlove, drummer for The Roots and well-known music personality, and another will be of Tricot, a nascent math-rock band from Japan. Short blurbs will appear below photos sourced from the artists' own accounts, with more in-depth profiles available at Instagram's blog.

By creating exclusive editorial content, Instagram hopes to become a full-service destination for music lovers, and to enhance its position as a critical ally for artists and labels. Right now, users spend around 21 minutes per day on the app on average, a figure that it that it believes can be improved with high-quality editorial offered at dedicated channels. @Music will essentially act as a spin-off of the official @Instagram account, which boasts an enormous 65 million followers and similarly spotlights noteworthy existing content on the platform. Channels based on other topics may follow.

"If we can help more members of the Instagram community find these great accounts, that's going to make their experience on Instagram more rich," said Hull.

Instagram isn't the first social network to try to harness the reliable popularity and prestige of the music industry. In 2013, Twitter launched #Music, a short-lived effort to corral music-related tweets and trending artists into a discrete destination for fans. But users never adopted the #Music app, or made much use of the #Music Twitter account, and the company backed away from the initiative just six months after launch.

Instagram says it's taking a different approach with @Music.

"This is not a new product that we're building," said Hull. "We're just extending the great work that our community has already done."

In the coming days, other artists to be showcased on Instagram Music include British synth-pop trio Until the Ribbon Breaks and Korean punk band No Brain.

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Fetch Puts Robots To Work

New industrial robots could someday take over boring warehouse tasks. But what does that mean for warehouse jobs?

Fetch Robotics

Fetch Robotics has a new vision for work in the warehouse — one in which a new generation of robots works side by side with humans.

On Wednesday, the Silicon Valley startup announced a pair of collaborative robots intended for light industrial use processing e-commerce shipments. Called Fetch and Freight, they're designed to work with humans, and they could be one more step toward putting robots to work in stores, restaurants, and even homes.

Melonee Wise, who founded Fetch Robotics last summer and received $3 million from Shasta and O'Reilly Ventures in February, told BuzzFeed News that there's a major market opportunity for building robots that can operate safely alongside people. "At some point, we have to deal with the real world," she said.

In a typical warehouse, a worker with a cart and a piece of paper walks around picking up boxes and bringing them to a central location to be packaged and shipped. Workers doing this job can walk up to 15 miles a day, Wise said, adding that some end up with injuries from repetitive strain. In a smaller subset of warehouses, those workers might be told what to pick up via a headset, or use a scanner to record the shipments they process. In around 5% of warehouses, Wise said, there might be a conveyer belt or other automated system. This includes Amazon's warehouses, which use Kiva, a logistics technology the company purchased in 2012.

Wise wants to change all that by bringing her Fetch and Freight mobile robots to the e-commerce floor. There are two ways the system can operate. In the first, Fetch uses its arm and telescoping spine to select boxes and hand them off to a Freight robot, which then carries them in bulk to a shipping area.

In the second, Freight works alongside a human. Responding to the spoken command "follow," the robot algorithmically identifies a warehouse worker's legs — based on shape and unique gait. It then follows them around the warehouse, using its sensors to avoid obstacles along the way. Once it's amassed a full load of packages, it carries them to the shipping area, possibly calling for another Freight robot to take its place.

Workers can communicate with both Fetch and Freight using simple voice commands, or a web application.

The Fetch system runs on ROS, an open-source operating system for robots that Wise says has been instrumental in helping Fetch to get off the ground quickly. With the rapid growth in the collaborative robotics industry and the logistics market, and Google ramping up its robotics division, a quick ramp can be a real strategic advantage. That said, Fetch and Freight are not yet market-ready. "We need to refine the technology with partners in real environments," said Wise, adding that Fetch Robotics is currently seeking partners in the e-commerce space.

Fetch Robotics / Via Fetch Robotics

So what effect might warehouse robots like Freight and Fetch have on jobs? Wise thinks they'll likely create more jobs than they eliminate. "Someone has to help maintain them; they don't fix themselves," she said. "Someone has to deploy them; they don't deploy themselves."

But others are less confident. They fear advances in robotics like those Fetch is making could someday put robots in restaurants or retail stores, threatening the employment of waiters and store clerks. Martin Ford, the author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, believes the proliferation of light-industry robots is one of the last steps before robots enter the much larger American services industry. "The collaborative robots are focused on what you might think of as the last frontier of automation," he said.

Warehouse tasks like those Fetch and Freight perform are typically unattractive ones. And Wise points to the logistics industry's unusually high turnover rate of 25% and its struggles to maintain a good labor supply as evidence of a need for light-industry robots.

But just because such jobs are viewed as undesirable doesn't mean people don't need them. "You can't just say, well, let's get rid of these jobs because these jobs suck, and not give people an alternative," said Ford.

Though relatively early to the collaborative robotics space, Fetch doesn't lack competitors. Rethink Robotics has been working hard to improve its stationary robot Baxter, releasing a newer, more efficient version called Sawyer last month. With Google and Amazon also active in the space and a handful of companies outside the U.S. eyeing it too, it seems inevitable that robots of all shapes and sizes will increasingly be seen in a variety of workplaces. Wise, for her part, finds that possibility exciting. "It's getting heated," she says.


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Nobody Knows

Which industry will you change forever?

Image: Mat Honan

It's cold and foggy in San Francisco today, after several hot weeks and several hot rainless months. The fog rolled in last week, just in time for Box's second annual developer conference at Fort Mason. When Facebook held its developer conference at Fort Mason, almost exactly a month ago, it was a warm, clear blue sky day. But last week, the fog rolled in, thick enough that you couldn't see the peak of Mt. Tam across the Bay in the promised land of Marin county.

Things change. And never more quickly than today. As the tech industry spills out over into just about everything else, eating its way into fashion and logistics and nutrition and education alike, instead of helping us make sense of the world, it just makes things muddier. The industry has spent decades promoting its ability to make the world a better place. And certainly, it has done that for communications. We can talk to nearly everyone, nearly everywhere, nearly all the time. But is that better? Or just more? As Nepal collapses and Baltimore burns, we are still able to do little more than document it. We survey the damage from far overhead, from thousand-dollar personal aircraft outfitted with high definition personal video cameras. We Periscope the riots. Or pretend to.

The spirit of the age is a collective uncertainty. It's a shrug. Nobody knows. It's an unease about where we are going — and where the hell are we going? There used to be obvious, inevitable things we could point at and say: This is the future. Right here. This great inevitability will dominate our lives for the next two, three, five or ten years. Believe it.

We did once. We believed it about IBM and we believed it about Microsoft and Google and Apple and Amazon. But what do we believe it about today? Is it Snapchat? Is it Uber? Is it Facebook? (It is probably Facebook.) Is a chat app really worth billions of dollars? Really? Well, sure. It is because people say it is.

So what happens when they say it isn't?

Anyone who pretends to know the future is fooling you. Or themself. We are barely muddling our way through the present.

Nobody knows. This is the only true thing anymore. Nobody knows, and you need look no further than the Apple Watch on your wrist to see it. The Apple Watch — the biggest gadget story of 2015 — reveals just how little we know.

No one in tech journalism knows quite what to make of the Watch. That's partially because it is from Apple and for many years now Apple has done only delightful things. And so perhaps if you don't like it, you are just wrong. Wrong, like the idiots who decried the iPod and the idiots who decried the iPhone and the idiots who decried the Apple Stores and who, years later, are still publicly shamed for being Wrong About Apple. No, it's better to land somewhere in the middle than be wrong. Reviews have become about the reviewer, and securing a place in line for the next Apple device — or at least the next job.

And so the tech press, which ostensibly exists to help us understand, has spent the last several weeks throwing tens of thousands of words at this watch, without really saying anything. At the end of these massive editorial productions, as the end credits roll, more often than not we've been left without any meaning, any takeaway, any sense of whether or not we should actually buy the damn thing: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The best tech journalism on this great unknown device so far comes from those who are not in tech, or those who are not in journalism.

And what about Oculus and Hololens and Magic Leap? What about our augmented, virtual future? (Hint: Slap some cardboard on an Android handset and you can at least squint at it now, if not fully view it.) At NewFronts yesterday, the New York Times announced it was rolling out a virtual something-or-other and everyone shrugged because, well… Maybe? Who wants to be wrong? Nobody knows.

(Except, of course, in this case, we do. We've seen enough pictures to know that if Google can't convince us Glass is a good idea, Facebook will have even bigger problems getting the world to strap giant black boxes across our faces so that we can all be alone together, mouthes agape.)

But nobody knows, despite all the sooth-saying from venture capitalists on Twitter, who spew buddhaesque aphorisms and argue that the bubble isn't here, and the bubble isn't coming, and that this great dome rising above us will never come down.

And maybe it won't. Nobody knows.

Maybe it won't matter that the EU intends to take a crowbar and hammer to Google. Maybe it won't matter if we merely bounce from outrage to outrage on social media, seeking and seeking without ever focusing. Maybe that watch will look great on you.

But back to last week.

Box went public this year, at long last, after many delays. Only to be poked at by The New York Times which described its developer conference in Hail Mary terms. But you wouldn't know it to look around. Food trucks were parked all across Fort Mason's parking lot, offering free food to (paid) attendees. A giant sign on the interior wall asked, suggestively, "Which industry will you change forever?"


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Congress Moves To Curb Mass Surveillance Under The Patriot Act

The USA Freedom Act, introduced today in the House and Senate, would rein in the NSA’s bulk data collection program.

Dado Ruvic / Reuters

Congress moved to restrict mass surveillance under the Patriot Act Tuesday afternoon, introducing to the House and Senate the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would prohibit the National Security Agency from collecting the phone records of American citizens in bulk, without a warrant.

The legal authority behind the NSA's controversial metadata collection program has been interpreted by government officials to come from Section 215 of the Patriot Act, a provision set to expire on June 1. By reauthorizing Section 215 with restrictions, Congress believes the USA Freedom Act will curb the government's most invasive spying powers, while ensuring that surveillance tools be used to thwart terror plots.

"As several intelligence-gathering programs are set to expire in a month, it is imperative that we reform these programs to protect Americans' privacy while at the same time protecting our national security," Representatives Bob Goodlatte, John Conyers, and Jerrold Nadler said in a joint statement.

The representatives went on to say the USA Freedom Act "enhances civil liberties protections, increases transparency for both American businesses and the government, ends the bulk collection of data, and provides national security officials targeted tools to keep America safe from foreign enemies."

Harley Geiger, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit organization that has been critical of the NSA's bulk collection of communication records, describes the legislation as "the most significant national security surveillance reform bill in the past two decades, with any chance of passing."

Geiger told BuzzFeed News that while the bill is not as comprehensive as the CDT would have liked, it still does much to rein in the NSA's surveillance powers. Not only does the USA Freedom Act eliminate the agency's ability to conduct dragnet surveillance programs, it institutes new requirements for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a panel that oversees requests for surveillance warrants. Specifically, the legislation would require FISA to provide summaries of significant legal decisions on surveillance to the public. The proposed legislation would address "the problem of secret law in this country," he said. "Secret law is anathema to a healthy democracy."

The American Civil Liberties Union isn't quite so enthusiastic about the USA Freedom Act. While the group doesn't oppose the bill, it does take a critical view of it. Among the ACLU's criticisms of the legislation: its overly broad data retention, a lack of transparency, and some unnecessary criminal penalties. Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the ACLU, told BuzzFeed News that the group also worries that a proposed advocate to the FISA court isn't explicitly charged with ensuring proper privacy and civil liberties protections.

The USA Freedom Act is headed to the House Judiciary Committee for markup on Thursday. And the Committee will have to work fast. While provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire on June 1, the practical deadline is May 21. That's the last day Congress is scheduled to be in session before the Memorial Day recess. Greater political resistance is expected in the Senate, where a prior iteration of the USA Freedom Act stalled at the end of last year, and where some, like Senator Mitch McConnell, wish to continue bulk data collection without any restrictions.

Meet LG's New Flagship G4 Handset

I told 4chan’s /g/ (Technology) board all about my experience at the LG phone event today in the form of a “green text story”.

Editor's Note: We asked Katie Notopoulos to head to One World Trade Center to cover LG's rollout of its new flagship G4 handset. This is what she filed.

This post was previously published in greentext, a format for telling embarrassing, sad, or triumphant stories on 4chan, on 4chan's technology board.

Waiters with coffee juice and seltzer.


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Maple: Another Food Delivery Startup, This Time With Momofuku's David Chang

Plenty of websites and apps will help you get a meal delivered. But Maple gets big-time Manhattan food cred from its chief culinary officer, Momofuku founder David Chang.

Maple

There's the open office, with bookcases filled with business tomes, standing desks, and exercise-balls-as-chairs. Then there's the venture capital funding and the dot-com veteran founders. But this is a company where more than half of the full-time, paid-with-benefits employees work preparing food or delivering it.

Maple is a food startup launching today in Lower Manhattan, a place with no shortage of restaurant or food delivery options. A quick look on Seamless shows hundreds of places ready to deliver almost any cuisine imaginable; opening Yelp anywhere in Maple's delivery zone (for now, Manhattan below Chambers Street) will show dozens of restaurants within a few minutes' walk.

It's a brutally competitive market, and Maple's founders, Caleb Merkl, Akshay Navle, and Will Gaybrick, don't have a background in the food business. But the company's street cred on that front is delivered in spades by David Chang, the Momofuku founder, who is serving as its chief culinary officer. Chang was introduced to Maple via an investor last summer, and helped the company recruit Soa Davies, who led menu development at Le Bernardin, as executive chef.

"We had nothing when we first talked to him; we didn't even have a name," Merkl told BuzzFeed News. "He has his Momofuku empire, but he really just cares about food. He's a progressive guy and is interested in where food is going."

Maple, Merkl said, has "one mission and vision, which is to make every touch point in the food ordering process exceptional." Right now, the service is limited to Lower Manhattan, with plans to move out farther over time. Although Maple wants to serve restaurant-style food, it's able to cut down on costs by not needing the trendy location or dining room of a regular restaurant.

It has also trimmed down the options: three choices for dinner and three for lunch, rotating daily. The prices, including tax, tip, and delivery, are $15 for dinner and $12 for lunch.

Similar businesses are gaining ground in San Francisco: SpoonRocket sells meals for $8 or $9 and has attracted over $10 million in venture capital funding, while others like Sprig and Munchery have also set up similar delivery services with minimal menus and simplified pricing. All of them compete with the Seamless-GrubHub empire, which has become the go-to company for ordering from tens of thousands of restaurants across the country.

The way Maple's founders see it, delivered food is often low-quality, deceptively priced, and inconsistent when it comes to timing. So the goal for Maple is charging a flat fee for high-quality food and fast — but more importantly, accurate — delivery.

"Our thought around speed is that it's definitely important," Merkl said, "but it's not the number one thing. I wouldn't do something to deliver in 10 or 12 minutes that would affect food quality."

And the way Maple plans to manage quality is to own the entire process, from food preparation at a kitchen in Brooklyn to vans that move the food to a delivery kitchen on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan, and then the delivery crew, made up of full-time employees.

That kind of work — operating a kitchen, owning a fleet of vans, employing cooks and delivery people — led to raised eyebrows when the company was raising money. It's a major departure from the trend of the highest-valued and fastest-growing logistics and delivery apps like Seamless and Uber, which operate as software-based middlemen, leaving most of the physical work to be done by others.

"When we went around and started talking to people about a series A [funding round], there was definitely a lot of groups who were like, this is not a marketplace, not everyone is 1099 [contractor], there's a line that's called capex" Merkl said.

Matthew Zeitlin

When I visited Maple's Financial District offices, we had the day's options delivered: baked arctic char with green olive relish, roasted fennel and leeks, and broccoli rabe; lemon rosemary chicken on a bed of mushrooms with roasted potatoes; and a green chile enchilada with lime and radishes. I had just eaten lunch an hour before, so I focused on the char, and it was delicious: meaty, substantial, a little salty, and I could easily pull away the meat with a fork. The greens were not soaked and sitting in a puddle of water, as is so often the risk with delivered food.

"We can't have the flimsy mixed greens that everyone serves, because by the time it rattles around in the delivery bike it deflates to nothing. If we put a lot of liquids in here it's all going to slush," Davies said.

The meals come in small, separate compostable boxes with folded tops. "One of the things we thought about a lot was packaging and branding," Merkl said. "We looked at 200 different pieces of packaging."

But plenty of people have started restaurants and plenty of people have started delivery services. Both are famously difficult businesses, as plenty of people are happy to remind Maple's founders.

"When you tell someone you're starting a restaurant," Merkl said, "they feel the need to sit you down and tell you why starting a restaurant is a bad idea."


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Twitter Spooks Investors With Bungled Earnings Release, Shares Plunge

Twitter was forced to release its quarterly numbers early after a markets data company found a copy online. Investors didn’t like what they saw.

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Twitter shareholders were spooked on Tuesday when the company's quarterly results, showing disappointing revenue growth, were released early by an upstart data firm.

Shares of Twitter fell as much as 6%, as investors digested the lackluster results, before being halted by the New York Stock Exchange. The stock fell as much as 19% after the halt was lifted.

The results were published during trading hours by Selerity, a data company, which said it had found the information already posted on Twitter's investor relations website. Twitter was scheduled to release the information after the market closed.

But the leak forced Twitter to publicize its results ahead of schedule. The N.Y.S.E. halted trading in Twitter shares before the company officially published its numbers.

Twitter announced revenue of $436 million in the first quarter, a 74% increase from the period a year earlier but lower than Wall Street had expected.

The company reported profit of 7 cents a share, according to a nonstandard metric that analysts use. That exceeded analysts' expectations of 4 cents a share.


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Uber Launches Food Delivery Service In New York City And Chicago

With UberEATS, the ride-hailing service is going head-to-head with Seamless and GrubHub.

ubereats.co

New Yorkers and Chicagoans now have a new way to have their meals delivered.

On Tuesday, ride-hailing outfit Uber expanded its UberEATS service to those cities, offering its users the ability to order food from a curated menu of entrees — straight from the Uber app.

With the expansion of UberEats, Uber is making good on CEO Travis Kalanick's 2013 pledge to expand the company's business beyond its core on-demand transportation service.

"We're in the business, today, of delivering cars in five minutes," Kalanick said at the 2013 LeWeb conference in Paris. "But once you're delivering cars in five minutes, there's a lot of things you can deliver in five minutes. If someone is doing 'Uber for X,' whatever it is, and it matches that lifestyle and logistics thing, you can count on Uber doing it."

Previously available only in Los Angeles and Barcelona, UberEats' sudden expansion to New York City and Chicago is bad news for ride-hailing and soon-to-be on-demand food delivery competitor Gett. Today, the Israeli company announced plans to offer its own on-demand food delivery, as well as health and beauty services, starting in July.

In New York City, UberEats will be available only Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and only between 40th and 14th streets. In Chicago, lunch will be available during the same days and times and will be delivered only in the Loop and River North. Each day, users will be given two individually priced lunch options.

Now PayPal Users Can Buy Things With One Click On The Web

One Touch furthers the payment giant’s efforts to streamline digital checkouts.

youtube.com

For years, the rigamarole required to buy things over the web has involved, at the very least, a password. With the newly announced One Touch for web and mobile browsers, PayPal aims to change that.

Similar to PayPal's One Touch feature for mobile apps, which launched last fall, the new functionality allows users, after an initial PayPal login with password, to make future purchases with one click. According to a press release, web One Touch will start to roll out in the United States today, and will expand to the whole of the company's 165 million user accounts in the coming months.

The feature comes as part of a growing trend toward the streamlining of digital payments, from near field communication touch payment systems like Apple Pay to Amazon's controversial Dash Buttons that automatically place Amazon orders for household items.

I Let The Apple Watch Run My Life For 48 Hours

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn and I am screaming at my own wrist. I’m late and walking with purpose down Flatbush Avenue and yelling at my watch, in a halting, robotic voice, "I’M — AT — FIFTH — AND — FLATBUSH!" People are staring at me, and not just because I’m wearing a very new, conspicuously scarce, $500 piece of metal and glass. I’m beginning to sweat. This isn’t the future I was promised.

Let me back up.

To hear Apple tell it, the real promise of the Apple Watch is to help free us from the tyranny of the company’s last paradigm-shifting invention: the iPhone. If used as intended and adopted widely, it’ll allow us to check our email, read the news, even pay for our morning coffee without ever touching our phones. But the first time I saw it, seemingly suspended in space and time, rotating elegantly as part of Apple’s March Keynote, I had a knee-jerk cringe reaction. To me, the Apple Watch looked like a notifications nightmare — a stainless steel handcuff that would make it impossible to truly unplug, a new life full of haptic reminders about all the tweets, emails, messages, and reminders impatiently waiting.

But maybe, I thought, I’m being a pompous, declinist technophobe. It’s just a watch, right? Watching Apple’s beautiful guided-tour videos of the watch, I was gradually seduced — as always seems to be the case — by the company’s masterful marketing. Perhaps this watch would, in fact, deliver on Apple’s promise and offer escape from the device I swipe open at least 100 times a day. Perhaps it isn't a tether to my job and my inbox and my obligations, but an escape from them.

There was only one way to find out. I decided to borrow an Apple Watch for a weekend and put it to the ultimate — albeit ridiculous — test. For an entire weekend, I wouldn’t be allowed to look at my phone. Instead I’d have to rely on the watch for all my Mobile Communication Needs. Apple has pitched the watch as a smaller, more portable, iPhone mirror, capable of doing nearly everything the phone can. By taking that conceit to its furthest logical extreme, I was hoping to figure out just what in the hell this watch really is.

Friday

7:30 p.m.: I get home and leave the phone in my coat because I CAN. This is liberating. I check my wrist, and my watch tells me somebody favorited one of my tweets. I refresh my email once, which is enough to see that I don’t have anything new or urgent. The whole weekend is ahead of me, and a glass of wine is in my empty stomach, and I’m feeling pretty good about this little guy. Smartphone? What smartphone? I’m a watch man now.

9:15 p.m.: I, like the rest of America, am watching ABC’s Bruce Jenner special. As I’ve become accustomed to doing during large, important television events, I try to keep up on Twitter. This is decidedly an absolute nightmare. Like most third-party apps, Twitter’s Apple Watch app doesn’t seem to be designed with living, breathing humans in mind. The app only lets me scroll through five tweets at a time, leaving me perpetually behind the conversation. To see another five I have to hit a ‘next’ button, which doesn’t always respond to my frustrated pawing. When it does, it takes a good 11 seconds to load. I give up quickly.

Saturday

9:30 a.m.: I take the watch from its "charging orb" and blearily put it on while still in bed. The watch feels like a good way to "check in" on things in the morning — just a casual glance at the major apps and email and news to get the day going. This, I’m hoping, will be where the watch reveals its worth. I swipe open the watch only to notice that I’m out of range of my phone, which is roughly 100 feet away. This is about when I realize that unless you’re looking to track your steps, the watch is basically nothing more than a pixelated timepiece when out of range of your phone. In fact, it’s kind of mind-boggling that there isn’t some kind of silly feature or game you can idly play to kill time that makes use of the haptics and accelerometers inside this gadget.

Frustrated, I get up to find my phone, which is still in my coat pocket, quickly losing battery. My watch immediately buzzes as the evening and early morning’s notifications assault my wrist. Nothing about this watch feels sexy.

12:30 p.m.: I accidentally run my watch under the sink while washing my hands. I immediately feel terrible. I know the watch is water-resistant, but it feels so fragile. Later in the weekend, while potting a plant, I get soil all over it. I feel awful, like I'm spitting in Jony Ive’s face.

This is my dumb wrist.

3:02 p.m.: I generally do a long run on Saturdays, and I’m excited to put this thing to use as a fitness tracker. Following a few recommendations, I download Runtastic to track my pace and mileage. Mostly, I’m looking forward to get my splits and distance without having to lug my phone along. I leave it at home and set out with my watch before quickly noticing that my fitness apps don't work when out of range of the phone. While I understand it, this feels like a huge disappointment. Why have the watch if you have to bring the phone along? Luckily, Apple’s native fitness app doesn’t require the watch.

As others have noted, for all its flaws, this watch is a wonderful fitness tracker. During my two-hour run, I'm able to lift my wrist slightly and see all my stats with ease. After every mile, I get a nice little haptic pat on the wrist to celebrate the accomplishment. Sure, other fitness watches, like the ones Garmin makes, do something similar, but the Apple Watch affords you a crystal-screened, high-definition smugness that is at once douchey and thrilling. I liken it to the difference of browsing the web on a BlackBerry versus an iPhone. It’s the same internet, but one feels...superior. Afterwards, I send my racing heart rate to a colleague — the only other person I know with an Apple Watch — to gloat. He (rightly) worries I'm ill.

8:15 p.m.: I’m at a bar with my girlfriend. She gets up for a minute and I’m left alone with my beer. I reach for my phone instinctively and then stop, sighing heavily. I turn back to my watch and try to kill some time. It’s no use. All the apps are stalling out and refusing to refresh. The mail app says I haven’t received an email since 9:13 a.m., which seems wrong. I paw at the screen and accidentally change my watch face to Mickey Mouse. I am bored, and now I am wearing a child’s watch.

8:35 p.m.: Because I’ve relied solely on my watch for all manner of mobile communications all day, it dies almost without warning before I’ve had dinner. I blame this on my stunt and not on the actual battery capacity of the watch. Regardless, I’ve gone dark.

Sunday

10:15 a.m.: I have to call my parents, which I’m dreading because it means holding my wrist up to my mouth for 20 minutes. Finally I find my home’s contact in the watch and dial. I’m expecting this to be a complete disaster, resulting in me having to break my rule and use my phone. To my surprise, the phone call goes through and I hear my mom’s voice crisply over the watch's tiny speaker. She can hear me, too. We talk for 30 minutes with zero issues. This feels...kind of futuristic?

Here I am, looking dumb again!

But near the end of the call, my roommate walks in the apartment and catches me pacing, talking into my wrist at a louder-than-normal volume. He shakes his head, shamefully. This has stopped being fun.

12:30 p.m.: Back to me screaming into my wrist on Flatbush Avenue. The talk-to-type software on the watch is quite good, and I feel terrible complaining about it — really, it’s kind of a modern marvel that you can talk into your watch and it turns your words into text that you can then send to other humans! But a combination of street noise and my own mumbling tendencies have left me screaming my location into the phone, and people are staring. When I finally meet up with my friends, they lament that the watch made it terribly difficult to reach me. This is clearly my fault for doing this dumb stunt, but it's also proof that watch-only communication is very difficult.

1:30 p.m.: My companions ask me to take a picture of them by some nice flowering spring trees. I oblige, but I have to use the watch’s camera feature to activate the shutter on my phone — rules are rules. I end up looking like this.

Looking dumb in nature!

I am not proud.

A note about the camera: This feels like the biggest opportunity for abuse. Essentially, you can use the watch to control the iPhone’s camera remotely. Throughout the weekend I jokingly set it up in places that enable me to catch people I knew in candid moments. Immediately, I thought about how creeps and vile trolls could use this feature to take actual non-sanctioned creepshots of people in bathrooms and other horrible places. I hope this doesn’t happen, but it feels inevitable.

4:00 p.m.: On the way home from a movie, I decide to use the Maps feature to find a bar for a quick drink. I abandon this after 45 seconds. I head home with no intention to leave my house. I take off the watch and eye my phone. I don’t touch it but I want to. I want to so bad.

What did we learn?

The watch is neither a notifications nightmare nor a sweet release from the iPhone’s grip. At least not yet. And that’s because the watch has a lot of kinks to work out. Sometimes messages take hours to appear and arrive as a text avalanche. Other times, they don’t appear at all. Sometimes, things work perfectly and the pings are unrelenting. But mostly the tech is too wonky to act as a tether, and the third-party apps are too crummy and haphazard to meaningfully impact the watch user's life for better or for worse.

And after spending 48 hours chained to the Apple Watch as my Mobile Communications Lifeline, it became clear to me that the watch needs more than perfect tech to become a household product — it needs a paradigm shift. Like answering a call on a selfie stick, a grown man yelling into his watch in public just isn't normalized behavior — yet.

During the full 48 hours, I never had that breakthrough ‘wow’ moment: the feeling I got when I first scrolled through a 2,000 song iPod library, or when I first opened the New York Times on Safari on an iPhone. That moment — the one where the device magically seems to transform from a luxury into a necessity, the moment Apple has managed to turn into billions and billions of dollars — simply never came.

That's not to say it won't. There are a few features that are thrilling — when they work, that is. Talk-to-type is one. The ability to take a quick phone call is another. And I really loved the cutting-edge feeling of the watch as a fitness app.

And so, just as it feels wrong to get the Apple Watch dirty or wet, it also feels wrong to rail against it. It's too new, too not-quite-real for that. All told, it feels a bit like the iPhone did a decade ago: You can see a plausible future if you squint your eyes just so. That future looks enticing and cool as hell, but it’s just. not. there. yet.

As different legacy apps like Twitter figure out how to best make use of the tiny little screen and haptics and up-and-comer apps find crazy new uses for the accelerometer and ability to connect people via the wrist, a new future might open up, just as we saw with the iPhone and App Store. And just as the iPhone ushered in all manner of new behaviors, mores, and tropes, it's not all that hard to imagine a future where seeing a roomful of people talking into their watches feels as normal as seeing them squint into their phones. Yeah, this thing was kind of a pain in the ass, and yeah, I’m glad I didn’t purchase one immediately. But there’s something that feels premature about calling this a failure. No matter how dumb I looked and felt wearing it.


Gett Wants To Deliver Dinner, Doctors On Demand

The ride-hailing service plans to expand into food delivery and a handful of other new verticals.

Shahar Waiser, DLD Moscow, May 29, 2012.

Hubert Burda Media CC BY-NC-SA / Via Flickr: hubertburdamedia

Gett is diving headfirst into the on-demand economy. The company, which began life as a ride-hailing service, is expanding its menu of offerings beyond taxis and black cars. Come July, Gett will begin offering a broad menu of on-demand services in all of its markets — everything from food delivery to healthcare.

It's a big, potentially risky shift for the Israeli start-up, which entered New York in 2013 after finding success abroad. But CEO Shahar Waiser says it's a well-considered one. "This is a natural transition," Waiser told BuzzFeed News. "We still see transportation as our core business."

With that in mind, Gett is limiting its new on-demand services to a very basic menu to start — food and groceries, health care, beauty, and home maintenance services. "We're not trying to be everything," Waiser said. "We know we can't be good at everything. So we chose essential products and services. "

The core value proposition of Gett's new offerings is the same as that of its ride-hailing service: giving consumers the service they want, when they want it — with a minimum of interaction and fuss. "We want it to be a one-click experience," Waiser said.

That's an ambitious goal. To achieve it, Gett is taking a tactical approach to its new on-demand services, limiting them to keep them manageable. Rather than offer a broad range of food for delivery, the company is partnering with a few restaurants to offer a selection of easy-to-make-and-deliver options such as pizza or sushi. And it only allows Gett users to select their choice of meal, not their choice of restaurant. It's not yet clear how the company will handle health care beyond partnering with clinicians willing to make house calls at a moment's notice. That's a potentially more difficult prospect than partnering with drivers, home maintenance workers, or even hairstylists and nail technicians who already may be independent contractors that are used to traveling from house to house.

Gett, which recently announced guaranteed flat rates for rides throughout Manhattan and no surge pricing, is applying the same infrastructure it has in place for booking rides to these new on-demand services. That includes the pricing system, future booking, access to 24/7 customer service, and service provider screenings and background checks. The company has not yet disclosed which on-demand service it will debut first or a roll-out timeline for the others that will follow.

Gett's foray into on-demand services is the largest yet for a ride-hailing company, and one that will put it in competition with a host of other companies all vying for a piece of the on-demand market. But Waiser said they don't worry him much.

"All of these companies that become Uber for 'X' — most of them are just 12 or so months old. And many have less than 100,000 users maximum in the several cities that they operate," he said. "[They] exist because the bigger players like Uber and Gett are not yet offering those services."

Waiser said Gett has long eyed the broader on-demand market, waiting for the right moment to enter it. Now that it's profitable in 22 out of the 24 markets in which it operates and on track to hit $500 million in revenue this December, that moment has arrived.

"This has been something that we've always had a dream of doing," Waiser said. "But it was impractical to think about it until we really gained those capabilities and established all the infrastructure. You don't move to new categories until you achieve critical mass on your main service."

Best Buy Will Accept Apple Pay, First Defector From Rival Payments Alliance

The electronics retailer gave a major boost to Apple’s mobile payments system, even though it’s a founding member of a competing payments alliance.

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Best Buy said today that it would start accepting Apple Pay in its app immediately and in stores laster this year, a major win for Apple in the battle over who can build the most popular mobile payment system among both customers and retailers.

Best Buy is one of the biggest retailers to join Apple Pay, and the first defector from MCX, a consortium of merchants including Wal-Mart, CVS, and Best Buy, that formed in 2012 to build a mobile payments app that avoids costly credit card interchange fees and allows merchants to keep more data and integrate gift cards and branded credit cards.

"Today's consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy," the company said in a statement.

The MCX consortium seemed to accept the move from one of its founding members. "Best Buy remains a strong MCX partner and supporter of the CurrentC initiative," MCX chief operating officer Scott Rankin said in an e-mailed statement. "We understand – and strongly support – our merchant partners' quest to do what's best for their customers. As we have stated in past, we are of the firm belief that there need to be at least 2-3 major players within the mobile payments ecosystem for it to succeed."

While Apple Pay is planned to be rolled out in its stores this year, it's not clear if or when the rival payment system being tested by MCX will make it to Best Buy. Jeffrey Shelman, a Best Buy spokesman, told BuzzFeed News: "Best Buy remains part of MCX. We will actively monitor CurrentC pilots. It is too early for us to speculate on timing."

MCX released a pilot for its CurrentC payment application last year and said it will roll out more fully later this year. The consortium was first formed in 2012.

While Best Buy is the first mega-retailer to say it will accept Apple Pay, the country's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, told the Wall Street Journal in March that it was "open" to Apple Pay.

When Apple Pay was first introduced in October, two MCX members, Rite Aid and CVS, disabled the technology on their scanners that allows Apple Pay to work to comply with MCX rules about exclusively using their own technology.

Best Buy did not say when it would start accepting Apple Pay, meaning that CurrentC could still roll out in its stores. Best Buy is a major seller of Apple products.

"The number of locations accepting Apple pay has tripled and we continue to see great progress with merchants," Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook said on a call with analysts to discuss the company's second quarter earnings.

Adding Best Buy fully will be a major coup for Apple. While it has a wide range of merchants signed up for Apple Pay, it does not have any of the mega-retailers that are part of MCX.

Best Buy, with its $36 billion in annual U.S. revenues far outpaces, for example, the $13.7 billion in annual revenues at Whole Foods, an original Apple Pay partner.

With the introduction of the Apple Watch, millions of consumers will be able to make payments from their wrists, which could be more convenient than having to pull out their iPhone or their credit card.

Apple's Latest Results Show China On The Rise And iPad In Decline

In the first three months of 2015, the company sold more than 61 million iPhones and pulled in almost $17 billion in revenue from the Greater China region alone.

And its profit of $13.6 billion was up 40%.

PHILIPPE LOPEZ / Getty Images

The company said the 61.2 million iPhones sold was a second-quarter record.

Cole Bennetts / Getty Images


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Instagram Won't Let You Search For The Eggplant Emoji

#FREETHEEGGPLANT

Instagram just announced that you can hashtag and search by emoji. Great! Cool! It turns out people have already been doing this, so there's photos for every emoji, even the super boring ones.

Instagram just announced that you can hashtag and search by emoji. Great! Cool! It turns out people have already been doing this, so there's photos for every emoji, even the super boring ones.

LITERALLY, WHO USES THE GRAPH EMOJI??????????? Plenty of people, apparently.

But if you search for the eggplant (the universal emoji for penis).... NO TAGS FOUND.

But if you search for the eggplant (the universal emoji for penis).... NO TAGS FOUND.

Instagram blocks certain hashtags that have graphic or harmful content, like #porn or pro-anorexia terms like #thinspo. This doesn't mean there isn't content on Instagram with those tags, but they purposely block them from search.

It appears that Instagram is smart enough to know that eggplant = penis in emoji-speak (you can't search for #penis either).

Even when people are definitely using it! We tested it out and this won't come up in search:

instagram.com


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Facebook Messenger Now Includes Video Calling

The social network hopes to transform Messenger into a world-class standalone app.

Facebook

Onstage at Facebook's annual F8 conference back in March, CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to transform the social networking service into a suite of applications. "Moving from just being a single service to a family of world-class apps is the biggest shift in our strategy to connect people in many years," he said.

On Monday, Facebook doubled down on that pledge, adding a new key feature to its standalone Messenger app: video calling. In doing so, the company further established Messenger as a communications platform of its own.

"This is exciting because it makes total sense," Stan Chubnovsky, head of product for Messenger, told BuzzFeed News. "We're pulling all of the phone functionality into one screen, so with one tap you're upgrading to a video call — removing all friction from the process of communication."

Facebook

In practice, Messenger's video calling experience looks much like that of its competitors, Skype and Apple's FaceTime. It uses both front- and back-facing cameras, has a movable selfie thumbnail, and launches directly from a chat. Its design is clean, and during the demonstration I attended, video call quality was smooth on two bars of LTE.

With a 600-million-person installed base, Facebook Messenger could someday challenge both those services. Certainly, it's not hard to see it becoming a formidable rival -- particularly to FaceTime. Unlike Apple's offering, Messenger works on Android and iOS devices, both.

Video calling is the latest in a string of new features recently announced for Messenger, which includes payments — among other things. And, according to Chudnovsky, it's the one users have been asking for most since the company added audio call functionality to the app almost a year ago. Since that time, Facebook Messenger has taken 10% of all mobile internet calls; that's a metric to keep in mind as video calling rolls out.

When Facebook insisted that users download Messenger to be able to message their friends while on mobile, it established the app as a platform distinct from the company's social networking service. Now, by enhancing it with features like video calling, it's raising the app's value proposition in a move to put Facebook at the center of all our communications.


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Did You Know? You Can Hashtag Emojis On Instagram

New filters, too. #smilingpileofpoop

Starting today, you can hashtag emojis in Instagram captions.

Starting today, you can hashtag emojis in Instagram captions.

Instagram

Instagram told BuzzFeed Life that the top 3 most-used emojis were: ?, ?, and ?, respectively.

Reyes

Instagram


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Here Are The On-Demand Companies Using Full-Time Labor — And Why

Even as lawsuits threaten the contract-based employment model of companies like Uber, contract labor is the norm in the industry. But a few companies argue that paying employees well isn’t just the law — it’s good for business.

In 2011, when Maren Donovan was founding her company, Zirtual — which sets users up with remote personal assistants who perform tasks such as transcribing a phone call or making dinner reservations — hiring her employees on a contract basis seemed like the right thing to do. It's cheaper, for one, and the prevailing wisdom in the then-nascent on-demand industry was that the labor costs associated with paying employees full-time were enough to sink a new venture before it started.

But Donovan also thought that's what her employees would prefer. "We really thought people wanted the freedom and flexibility to work when they want, and make as little or as much money," she told BuzzFeed News. But, she said, as the company grew, she came to realize that many of her employees didn't come to Zirtual for the freedom — they came for the paycheck, too. "What we heard from the people who were working for us," she said, "is that they wanted steady work."

So about a year ago, Donovan began phasing out 1099 workers, or independent contractors. All Zirtual employees are now full-time salaried workers with benefits, training, and holidays off.

In this, Zirtual is an anomaly in the on-demand economy, the name given to the constellation of Ubers for X and Insta-everythings that provide personal services such as meal delivery, laundry, home cleaning, and errand-running on a piecemeal basis, with the press of a button, at the hands of a sprawling contract labor force. But the company is part of a growing handful of similar labor startups that have decided their businesses are more sustainable, more innovative — and, perhaps most crucially, more legal — when the rights of their employees are protected, and are thus challenging the fundamental doctrine of a multibillion-dollar economy.

Via Zirtual / Via zirtual.com

Within the massive on-demand services industry — which is valued anywhere between $60 and $500 billion — contract labor is the norm, and the prevailing wisdom is that traditional full-time labor is an inefficient model in a technologically enabled world. As a 2014 report from the venture capital firm Sherpa Ventures — an investor in on-demand titans including Shyp, Uber, and Washio — argued, "perpetual, hourly employment is often deeply inefficient for all parties involved."

At base, the legal distinction between a contract — or 1099, after the tax form these people fill out — laborer and a full — or W2 — employee hinges on control. A W2 employee can be told what to wear and where to go by their employer; they can be trained. A 1099 employee can't, technically, hold a contract for longer than six months, and can break that contract at any time, coming and going from various companies and labor marketplaces as they please. Essentially, 1099 employees get autonomy; W2 employees get job stability. Even as the model comes under legal fire, with some companies finding themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits for potentially misclassifying their employees as contract laborers, many observers of the on-demand economy maintain that contract labor is best for all parties involved.

Mitch Ratcliffe, a senior analyst at BIA/Kelsey and an expert on the local on-demand economy, argues that the industry simply can't survive without the massive supply of a cheap, flexible labor that it provides. "These models don't scale if you're hiring people and you're not putting them to work every minute you're paying them for," he told BuzzFeed News. In a crowded industry with sometimes small margins and usually big ambitions, every added cost matters — and full-time labor is expensive.

Salaries, benefits, and overtime aren't the only costs, either — hiring full-time labor also means taking legal responsibility for your employees. Marcela Sapone is the founder of Alfred, a butler service that uses W2 labor. "Tech companies that want to scale quickly have looked at the liabilities involved with actually having employees," she told BuzzFeed News. "And they say, 'Oh, we don't want that.'"

Sapone said would-be funders balked at the added cost and complication of hiring W2 labor. "When we were reaching out to potential investors," she said, "many told us, 'That doesn't make sense. That's not a scalable business.' I said, 'It's the only scalable business.'"

The way Sapone sees it, she can't guarantee a high-quality end product for her customers using contract labor. For Alfred to be the magically predictive butler service she wants it to be, the "Alfreds" need to use their personal judgment, human intuition, and training in high-end service when performing tasks in a person's home. Alfred employees make between $25 and $30 an hour.

Managed by Q, which cleans and manages office spaces by deploying its fully employed operators via an app, is another such company. Both Daquan Gailyard, a Managed by Q "operator," and Saman Rahamanian, the company's founder, told BuzzFeed News that they believe offering employees full benefits fosters a work environment where employees are loyal, well-trained, engaged — and happy.

Courtesy Alfred / Via helloalfred.com


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Assassins Creed Chronicles China

Assassins Creed Chronicles China adalah game yang sangat populer saat ini merupakan game yang dibuat oleh perusahaan ubisoft dimana Assassins Creed Chronicles China ini termasuk game yang masuk genre arcade sebuah petualangan dimana para pemain harus menyelesaikan banyak sekali rintangan rintangan yang ada. Assassins Creed Chronicles China memberikan video graphics yang sangat bagus dan tentunya sangat nyaman untuk dimainankan. Game ini telah selain tersedia untuk perangkat handphone, xbox, playstation juga menyediakan versi komputer (PC) nya, sehingga bagi anda yang mempunyai komputer bisa memainkan Assassins Creed Chronicles China ini.

Pemain memainkan sebuah peran Altair, seperti yang dialami oleh protagonis Desmond Miles. Tujuan utama dari permainan ini adalah untuk melakukan serangkaian pembunuhan diperintahkan oleh Al Mualim, pemimpin Assassins. Untuk mencapai tujuan ini, pemain harus melakukan perjalanan dari markas Ikhwan di Masyaf, di medan Tanah Suci dikenal sebagai Kerajaan ke salah satu dari tiga kota-Yerusalem, Acre, atau Damaskus-untuk menemukan agen Persaudaraan di kota itu.

Screenshot: 

Minimum Spesifikasi:
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core2Duo/AMD X2
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Hard disk space: 4GB
  • VGA: GeForce GTS450/Radeon HD5770
Download  link:
  Langkah Installasi:
  1. Download Assassins Creed Chronicles China dengan winrar
  2. Silahkan mount "codex-accc.iso" menggunakan power iso atau software sejenis
  3. Buka hasil mount yang tadi dan klik ganda pada "setup.exe" lakukan installasi pada biasanya
  4. Pindahkan crack nya ke folder installasi
  5. Jalankan game nya!
  6. Selesai
^_^ Semoga bermanfaat