Google’s Work Insights helps businesses better understand how they work

At an event in Tokyo, Google today announced the launch of Work Insights, a new tool that gives businesses more insights into how their employees use the company’s G Suite productivity tools and how teams collaborate using those tools. In addition, Google is also launching its investigation tool for helping business better secure their data in G Suite into general availability. “Work Insights is a tool built specifically to help businesses measure and understand the impact of digital transformation within their organizations, driven by G Suite,” Reena Nadkarni, a group product manager for G Suite, explains in today’s announcement. Data is aggregated at the team level (where a team needs to have 10 people or more) to help businesses understand how their employees are adapting G Suite apps. As enterprises bet on one vendor or the other, there’s always a bit of a transition period and not everybody makes the
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Google launches new AI initiatives in Japan

It’s no surprise that Google used its Cloud Next 2018 event in Tokyo today — one of a number of international Cloud Next events that follow its flagship San Francisco conference — to announce a couple of new initiatives that specifically focus on the Japanese market. These announcements include a couple of basic updates like translating its Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform Coursera specialization, its Associate Cloud Engineer certification and fifty of its hands-on Qwiklabs into Japanese. In addition, Google is also launching an Advanced Solutions Lab in Tokyo as well. Previously Google opened similar labs in Dublin, Ireland, as well as Sunnyvale and New York. These labs offer a wide range of machine learning-centric training options, collaborative workspaces for teams that are part of the company’s four-week machine learning training program, and access to Google experts.

(Photo by Hitoshi Yamada/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The company also
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Microsoft launches new AI applications for customer service and sales

Like virtually every other major tech company, Microsoft is currently on a mission to bring machine learning to all of its applications. It’s no surprise then that it’s also bringing ‘AI’ to its highly profitable Dynamics 365 CRM products. A year ago, the company introduced its first Dynamics 365 AI solutions and today it’s expanding this portfolio with the launch of three new products: Dynamics 365 AI for Sales, Customer Service and Market Insights. “Many people, when they talk about CRM, or ERP of old, they referred to them as systems of oppression, they captured data,” said Alysa Taylor, Microsoft corporate VP for business applications and industry. “But they didn’t provide any value back to the end user — and what that end user really needs is a system of empowerment, not oppression.” It’s no secret that few people love their CRM systems (except for maybe a handful of
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Microsoft acquires Lobe, a drag-and-drop AI tool

Microsoft today announced that is has acquired Lobe, a startup that lets you build machine learning models with the help of a simple drag-and-drop interface. Microsoft plans to use Lobe, which only launched into beta earlier this year, to build upon its own efforts to make building AI models easier, though, for the time being, Lobe will operate as before. “As part of Microsoft, Lobe will be able to leverage world-class AI research, global infrastructure, and decades of experience building developer tools,” the team writes. “We plan to continue developing Lobe as a standalone service, supporting open source standards and multiple platforms.” Lobe was co-founded by Mike Matas, who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad, as well as Facebook’s Paper and Instant Articles products. The other co-founders are Adam Menges and Markus Beissinger. In addition to Lobe, Microsoft also recently bought Bonsai.ai, a deep
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JBL’s smart display combines Google smarts with good sound

If you’re looking for a smart display that’s powered by the Google Assistant, you now have two choices: the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View. Lenovo was first out of the gate with its surprisingly stylish gadget, but it also left room for improvement. JBL, given its heritage as an audio company, is putting the emphasis on sound quality, with stereo speakers and a surprising amount of bass. In terms of the overall design, the Link View isn’t going to win any prizes, but its pill shape definitely isn’t ugly either. JBL makes the Link View in any color you like, as long as that’s black. It’ll likely fit in with your home decor, though. The Link View has an 8-inch high-definition touchscreen that is more than crisp enough for the maps, photos and YouTube videos you’ll play on it. In using it for the last two weeks, the
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Nvidia launches the Tesla T4, its fastest data center inferencing platform yet

Nvidia today announced its new GPU for machine learning and inferencing in the data center. The new Tesla T4 GPUs (where the ‘T’ stands for Nvidia’s new Turing architecture) are the successors to the current batch of P4 GPUs that virtually every major cloud computing provider now offers. Google, Nvidia said, will be among the first to bring the new T4 GPUs to its Cloud Platform. Nvidia argues that the T4s are significantly faster than the P4s. For language inferencing, for example, the T4 is 34 times faster than using a CPU and more than 3.5 times faster than the P4. Peak performance for the P4 is 260 TOPS for 4-bit integer operations and 65 TOPS for floating point operations. The T4 sits on a standard low-profile 75 watt PCI-e card. What’s most important, though, is that Nvidia designed these chips specifically for AI inferencing. “What makes Tesla T4 such
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macOS Mojave will launch September 24

MacOS Mojave, the next major update to Apple’s desktop operating system, will officially launch on September 24, the company announced today. Unsurprisingly, Apple’s September event today was all about the new iPhone and iOS. But the company also found time to talk a bit about its desktop operating system, too. Mojave, which has been in beta for a while now, features a new dark mode, something users have been requesting for a very long time, stacks for keeping your desktop uncluttered, an updated Finder that lets you perform more actions without having to open another app, a new screenshot app and support for FaceTime calls with up to 32 people.

Mojave will also launch with a couple of new apps that were previously only available on iOS. These include Apple News and the Stocks app, as well as a voice memo app and the

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Say goodbye to Inbox by Gmail

With the launch of the new Gmail, the writing was on the wall, but today Google made it official: Inbox by Gmail, the company’s experimental email client for Gmail, will shut down at the end of March 2019. Google says it’s making this change to put its focus “solely on Gmail.” While that makes sense, it’s a shame to see Inbox sail into the setting sun, given that it pioneered many of the features that have now become part of the new Gmail. I would have loved to see Google continue to experiment with Inbox instead. That, after all, was one of the reasons the company started the Inbox project to begin with. It’s hard to try radical experiments with a service that has a billion users, after all. Today, however, Google now seems to be willing to try new things right in Gmail, too. Smart Compose, for
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Apple’s new iPhones are powered by the industry’s first 7nm chips

Unsurprisingly, Apple today announced its newest generation of iPhones. And with that, it also announced its new chips: the A12 Bionic. What makes the A12 Bionic stand out is that it’s built using a 7nm process. While it’s hard to compare these numbers given that every chip manufacturer seems to have its own way of measuring them, 7nm is very much the state of the art. Indeed, Apple claims this is the industry’s first 7nm chip. It features a total of 6.96 billion transistors. more iPhone Event 2018 coverage “What the team has done is truly, truly a breakthrough,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, said in today’s keynote. “The A12 bionic is the industry’s first 7nm chip.” The A12 Bionic, which was designed by Apple, features a 6-core CPU and a 4-Core GPU, as well as Apple’s Neural Engine for running machine learning workloads. What’s interesting here is that the chip
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Apple has now sold almost 2B iOS devices

As usual, Apple used its annual iPhone event to provide us with a few fresh stats about the state of its business. The most important one came right at the start of today’s event.  Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company is about to sell its 2 billionth iOS device. more iPhone Event 2018 coverage “We’re about to hit a major milestone,” he said. “We are about to ship our two billionth iOS device.” We know that Apple had shipped about 1.2 billion iPhones by early 2017. This is all iOS devices, though, not just iPhones, so it’s no surprise the number is quite a bit higher. “This is astonishing,” he said. “iOS has changed the way we live. From the way we learn to the way we work. To how we are entertained to how we shop, order our food and get our transportation and stay in touch with one
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Grammarly now saves you from embarrassing mistakes in Google Docs, too

Grammarly now supports Google Docs. Over the course of the last few years, Grammarly has made a name for itself as one of the better grammar and spelling checkers on the market. As a Chrome extension, it neatly integrates with virtually every major online tool and social media site, but until now, Google Docs remained a blind spot. Because of its real-time collaboration features, the Google Docs editor isn’t just a straight-up text field, after all, so the Grammarly team had to do a bit of extra work to make its service work there. Once you have installed the extension, though, it’ll now work just like in any other web app. The feature has actually been available as a beta to paying premium users for a little while, but now everybody can give it a try. It’s interesting to see Grammarly come to Google Docs now. In July, after all,
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Anaxi brings more visibility to the development process

Anaxi‘s mission is to bring more transparency to the software development process. The tool, which is now live for iOS, with web and Android versions planned for the near future, connects to GitHub to give you actionable insights about the state of your projects and manage your projects and issues. Support for Atlassian’s Jira is also in the works. The new company was founded by former Apple engineering manager and Docker EVP of product development Marc Verstaen and former CodinGame CEO John Lafleur. Unsurprisingly, this new tool is all about fixing the issues these two have seen in their daily lives as developers. “I’ve been doing software for 40 years,” Verstaen told me.” And every time is the same. You start with a small team and it’s fine. Then you grow and you don’t know what’s going on. It’s a black box.” While the rest of
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Rigetti announces its hybrid quantum computing platform — and a $1M prize

Rigetti, a quantum computing startup that is challenging the likes of IBM, Microsoft and Google in this nascent space, today at our TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 event announced the launch of its new hybrid quantum computing platform. While Rigetti already offered API access to its quantum computing platform, this new service, dubbed Quantum Cloud Services (QCS), offers a combination of a cloud-based classical computer, its Forest development platform and access to Rigetti’s quantum backends. Thanks to this, developers will be able to write and test their algorithms significantly faster than with the company’s previous approach. In addition to the new platform, which is now in private testing, Rigetti also announced a $1 million prize for the first team that manages to show quantum advantage on this hybrid platform. Quantum advantage, at least according to Rigetti’s definition, is the milestone where a quantum system will be able to solve a
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Crossing Minds would like to recommend a few entertainment options

Crossing Minds, which is launching in our Disrupt SF 2018 Battlefield today, is an AI startup that focuses on recommendations. The company’s app, Hai, provides you with a wide range of entertainment recommendations, including books, music, shows, video games and restaurants, based on the data it can gather about you from services like Spotify, Netflix, Hulu and your Xbox. The company’s co-founders Alexandre Robicquet (CEO) and Emile Contal (CTO) tell me that they want Hai, which is available for iOS and on the web, to become people’s central hub for their entertainment needs. Both founders have extensive experience in machine learning and also managed to bring Sebastian Thrun on as an advisor. The team describes Hai as the “first pure cross-domain recommendation engine truly focused on the user.” Ahead of its launch, Crossing Minds raised $3.5 million from Index Ventures, Sound Ventures and You & Mr
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PagerDuty raises $90M to wake up more engineers in the middle of the night

PagerDuty, the popular service that helps businesses monitor their tech stacks, manage incidents and alert engineers when things go sideways, today announced that it has raised a $90 million Series D round at a valuation of $1.3 billion. With this, PagerDuty, which was founded in 2009, has now raised well over $170 million. The round was led by T. Rowe Price Associates and Wellington Management . Accel, Andreessen Horowitz and Bessemer Venture Partners participated. Given the leads in this round, chances are that PagerDuty is gearing up for an IPO. “This capital infusion allows us to continue our investments in innovation that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling us to help our customers transform their companies and delight their customers,” said Jennifer Tejada, CEO at PagerDuty in today’s announcement. “From a business standpoint, we can strengthen our investment in and development of our people, our most valuable asset,
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BMW launches a personal voice assistant for its cars

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, BMW today premiered its digital personal assistant for its cars, the aptly named BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. But you won’t have to say “Hey, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant” to wake it up. You can give it any name you want. The announcement comes only a few weeks after BMW also launched its integration with Amazon’s Alexa, but it’s worth stressing that these are complementary technologies. BMW’s own assistant is all about your car, while its partnerships with Amazon and also Microsoft enables other functions that aren’t directly related to your driving experience. “BMW’s Personal Assistant gets to know you over time with each of your voice commands and by using your car,” BMW’s senior vice president Digital Products and Services, Dieter May, said. “It gets better and better every single day.” Sticking with the precedents of Microsoft’s, Google’s and Amazon’s assistants, the voice
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Girlboss’ and Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso on picking yourself up after failure

At Disrupt SF 2018, Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso sat down with former TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Bonatsos to talk about the success of Girlboss and the failure of Nasty Gal, Amoruso’s failed retail startup. Nasty Gal shut down in 2016 — and even without that, it would’ve been a hard year for Amoruso. “So in 2016, in a six-month period, I was on the cover of Forbes and then a month later, my husband of a year left me,” she said. “That was in July, and then in November, on the day Trump was elected, we filed for Chapter 11. How do you pick yourself up after that?,” Bonatsos asked Amoruso. “That day when Trump got elected. I had — the world was having a bad day,” she answered. “I wasn’t sure why. I was crying.” But Amoruso had also continued to nurture the Girlboss brand. “I
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Google adds a bunch of rugged devices to its Android Enterprise Recommended program

Rugged smartphones, the kind of devices that business can give to their employees who work in harsh environments, are a bit of a specialty market. Few consumers, after all, choose their smartphones based on how well they survive six-foot drops. But there is definitely a market there, and IDC currently expects that the market for Android -based rugged devices will grow at 23 percent annually over the next five years. It’s maybe no surprise that Google is now expanding its Android Enterprise Recommended program to include rugged devices, too. Chances are you’ve never heard of many of the manufacturers in this first batch (or thought of them as smartphone manufacturers): Zebra, Honeywell, Sonim, Point Mobile, Datalogic. Panasonic, which has a long history of building rugged devices, will also soon become part of this program. The minimum requirements for these devices are pretty straightforward: they have to support Android 7+, offer
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TAPPP raises $5M to offer pre-paid access to live sports streaming

There is a good chance you’ve never heard of TAPPP, but you probably know some of its customers like Major League Baseball (MLB) and the NFL. And if you’ve ever seen pre-paid cards for access to the NFL Game Pass subscription services or MLB’s streaming service in your local supermarket, then you’ve seen its product, too. TAPPP focus is on making access to this premium live sports content available as a pre-paid service for these leagues. As the company announced today, it has raised a $5 million Series A funding round led by leAD Sports/OurCrowd’s ADvantage Fund, with additional backing from Accomplice, Elysian Park, Go4it, Courtside VC and Sterling.VC. The ADvantage Fund is backed by leAD Sports, a sports accelerator launched by the grandchildren of Adi Dassler, who you may know as the founder of Adidas. TAPPP is currently available at over 5,000 retailers, including Walmart and
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TomTom launches a free mobile maps SDK for developers

TomTom, the mapping and navigation company you probably still remember from its heyday as a leader in the stand-alone in-car GPS space, is launching a free mobile maps SDK for developers at TechCrunch Disrupt today. This move is part of the company’s overall transformation from a consumer device manufacturer to a software company. The new SDK will feature free maps and traffic tiles for all Android and iOS users. As TomTom VP of business development and product marketing Leandro Margulis told me, free in this case really means free. While the SDK doesn’t offer routing and some other advanced features, there’s no limit to how developers use its mapping and traffic tiles. “This is about putting the developer at the center of everything that we do,” Magulis told me. “If you look at any kind of partnership that you do, either big or small, at some point you tell
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