Here’s what Google’s $149 Home Hub smart display will reportedly look like

Google is reportedly getting ready to launch some new hardware at its October 9 hardware event and we just learned a lot more about a new product that might be launching. It was rumored that Google was working on its own Smart Display, now we’ve got images of the Google Home Hub and details about its price tag via a report from AndroidAuthority.

via Android Authority

The device certainly looks like a Google Home product with all the fabric anyone could ask for and then far, far more on top of it. It’s rocking a 7-inch screen and will cost just $149, which is quite a bit cheaper than the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display which is currently the cheapest option at $199 while its 10-inch varietal ships for $249 as does the stereo-speakered JBL Link View. Having played around with Lenovo’s product, Google has some very pretty software for their
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Illumix raises $8.6M to build more dynamic phone-based AR games

As iOS12 drops, we are again reminded that phone-based AR is on hundreds of millions of phones but we still haven’t seen any big successes built on the new technologies. Illumix is hoping that its approach to building games that understand where the user is while serving up content that responds to that space can help accelerate AR’s popularity. The Menlo Park-based company is emerging out of stealth today and sharing that they’ve raised an $8.6 million seed round co-led by Maveron and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Radar Partners, Unusual Ventures and Michael Bay’s 451 Media also participated in the round. The gaming studio is working on tech that allows gaming content to dynamically scale based on the environment. So, theoretically if you’re playing an Illumix title in a big open area like a warehouse, it’s going to look a lot different than if you fire up the app in your
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Mozilla’s Firefox Reality web browser is now available

Mozilla’s vision of a VR-first web browser is ready for consumers to download and judge. Firefox Reality is a browser built entirely for virtual reality. While you may have read about desktop Firefox or Chrome adding WebVR support, Firefox Reality is a web browser that you actually use entirely inside a VR headset. You can visit URLs, search things and otherwise browse the 2D and 3D internet within the new browser all without moving a mouse, just your VR hand controller.

Firefox Reality is available on the Oculus, Viveport and Daydream platforms and is optimized to run on the latest standalone mobile headsets like the Oculus Go and Lenovo Mirage Solo. This is version 1.0 and the company is still finding its way through some usage questions and issues. It’s VR after all, so perfection is hardly the standard

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Hear how Oculus is minimizing VR’s content problem at TC Sessions: AR/VR

In 2018, VR adoption has plenty of demons to chase as it looks to build a larger, more mainstream audience. In 2017, the chief concern for most in the industry was the lack of content available for headsets. The “content problem,” as it was called, was a huge concern for headset companies like Oculus which were selling pricey headsets that users could blaze through the available content for in a few weeks. It was a daunting challenge for the young industry, but one that no one seems to be talking about quite as much just a year later. With VCs still reticent to invest in content and a relatively small user base, how did the industry move past the content problem? Well, a large part was Oculus‘s efforts in spending its way through the problem by investing hundreds of millions in indie developers building new and innovative VR content.
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Shopify is bringing Apple’s latest AR tech to their platform

Shopify is leaning on phone-based AR to make online purchases look a little more lifelike for users. The Canadian commerce company announced today they have added support for AR Quick Look, one of Apple’s new features from ARKit 2, which will be going live with iOS 12 later today and will be available for integrations with the 600,000 merchants currently on their platform. Merchants will be able to use the tools to upload 3D models of their products, which users will be able to tap on the goods inside Safari to view in their real-world environments. While viewing goods like this was possible in the past iteration of ARKit, with this integration, users won’t need to download another app — they can check out the products in AR with a lot less friction. Augmented reality has a lot of potential to change how e-commerce operates as users feel like they
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Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: AR/VR in LA on October 18

TechCrunch is heading to UCLA on October 18 and we’ve assembled some of the AR/VR industry’s most prescient founders, investors and executives to chat about the startups and trends driving virtual and augmented reality in 2018. The world’s top tech companies have heavily invested in AR/VR and are persistent in broadcasting the technologies’ potential to blur the lines of how consumers interact with the digital world. Beyond the tech titans, it’s the small startups that are dialing into what’s missing in the ecosystem right now. Our agenda showcases some of the powerhouses in the space, but also plenty of smaller teams that are building and debunking fundamental technologies for virtual worlds. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves and will be adding some new names to the agenda over the next month so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, check out these agenda highlights:

TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR
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Nintendo finally announces some new games for the Switch

Nintendo is at last (at last!) bringing some new content to the Switch! Yes! In a Nintendo Direct, the company let fly a number of games and a couple of original titles. The biggest Nintendo-produced titles we had glimpses of are a new Animal Crossing in development for the Switch and Luigi’s Mansion 3. We learned next to nothing about the new Animal Crossing, other than that it’s coming in 2019, but we did get to see some gameplay from the latest chapter of Luigi’s only titular adventure in the Nintendo world. Luigi’s Mansion 3 seems to follow in the ghost-vacuuming footsteps of its predecessors with the bizarre camera angles and all. It’s also heading to the Switch stage in 2019, setting up a couple of Nintendo titles for us to look forward to next year, possibly alongside Metroid Prime 4 (?). Other familiar additions to the Switch
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Everything Apple announced at its iPhone XS event

Today was Apple’s big hardware event and the trillion dollar company had quite a lot to share about the future of some of its most profitable product lines. While Apple boasted how its products had been completely redesigned and re-engineered, in reality, what was most notable about today’s Apple event is how Apple is choosing to design within the bounds of its past releases. The new class of flagship iPhones, the XS and XS Max made hardware upgrades focused on durability and performance with a new chipset and not too much else. The first hardware design update in years for the Apple Watch update equated to a larger, rounded corner display and updates to the biometric sensors. There were also a couple surprises though, here’s what we saw today:   [gallery ids="1711200,1711198,1711196,1711195,1711186,1711181"]

iPhone XS and XS Max

Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone didn’t reinvent the wheel after last year’s major
more iPhone Event 2018 coverage
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New iPhones courageously ditch including a free headphone dongle

Apple is under the impression that its “courage” has already paid off and that it no longer needs to ship a headphone dongle with its new phones. Mission accomplished! The new iPhone XS and XR models will not include the Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, and users will have to buy it separately for $9. The iPhone 8 will also not include the dongle moving forward, The Verge reported.

The dongle is just $9 at least and if you’ve been an iPhone owner for the past few years you’ve got one already. To be a clear, a lot of phones have been moving in the headphone jack-less direction and it was a nice precedent to set that Apple included the dongles with its past models in the first place. That said, the Pixel 2 included the dongle so Apple is again leading the way here with an

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Where the heck is Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat?

With a full year since its last mention onstage at Apple’s last hardware event, Apple’s AirPower wireless charger mat is still missing. At the company’s iPhone event this morning in Cupertino, there was little mention of the wireless charging tech present in the new iPhones, but more surprisingly there was not a single word said about the company’s AirPower wireless charging mat that it teased last year as coming in “early” 2018. Apple even had early AirPower mat samples in the hands-on area of the hardware event last year but it seems delays have left the device out of this year’s show and pushed further down the product roadmap. While Apple’s website did not show any details on the AirPower charger, there were details present still about a wireless charging case for the AirPods “coming in 2018” that is designed for the mat.

Facebook’s ‘Rosetta’ system helps the company understand memes

Memes are the language of the web and Facebook wants to better understand them. Facebook’s AI teams have made substantial advances over the years in both computer vision and natural language recognition. Today, they’ve announced some of their latest work that works to combine advances in the two fields. A new system, codenamed “Rosetta,” helps teams at Facebook and Instagram identify text within images to better understand what their subject is and more easily classify them for search or to flag abusive content. It’s not all memes, the tool scans over a billion images and video frames daily across multiple languages in real time, according to a company blog post. Rosetta makes use of recent advances in optical character recognition (OCR) to first scan an image and detect text that is present, at which point the characters are placed inside a bounding box that is then analyzed by convolutional neural
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Impossible Aerospace raises $9.4M to sell drones stuffed with battery cells

Much like smartphone manufacturers, drone companies have been adding plenty of features over the past several years to devices while making only modest improvements to battery life. But while your phone may boast “all-day” usage, a lot of the top drones only register flight times between 20-35 minutes. Impossible Aerospace is looking to change up that equation, at least when it comes to commercial drones, with a dense design that is basically all-battery. The company shared launch details of its US-1 drone today, and announced that it had closed a $9.4 million Series A from Bessemer Venture Partners, Eclipse Ventures and Airbus Ventures. Its first product is a drone that can most-notably stay airborne for about 120 minutes in optimal flying conditions, with a 75km (over 46 miles) straight line range. It carry 2.9 pounds of payload, but that drops the total flight time to 78 minutes. For commercial customers,
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Fast-growing game engine startup Unity loses its CFO

Unity Technologies, the highly valued startup behind one of the most popular game development tools, lost its CFO Mike Foley earlier this summer, Business Insider (paywalled) first reported. A company spokesperson confirmed the CFO’s departure, saying it was a “friendly and mutual decision between both parties,” while also noting that the company was searching for a replacement and had some candidates and hoped to announce more details soon. Unity has raised north of $600 million at a valuation over $3 billion, CEO John Riccitiello confirmed to us earlier this week. In an interview at our Disrupt SF 2018 conference, Riccitiello told TechCrunch that the company’s game engine platform now powers about half of all new games. In April, Riccitiello told the publication Cheddar that the company was on the “general path” toward an IPO. “We’re not putting out dates but I do believe the company is strong enough financially to
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Pretty art screen startup Meural gets acquired by ugly wifi router company

The startup behind the Meural art frame has been acquired by Netgear. The deal was announced during the router company’s analyst day and was confirmed to TechCrunch by a Meural spokesperson. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Netgear may feel like an odd suitor for this consumer hardware startup, but they were an early investor in them and the buy is certainly no more strange than the last exit in this smart art space, when Giphy bought Electric Objects, torched the hardware business and made the subscription content free to existing users. Meural has built some very nice hardware. At $595 the company’s art frames are a bit pricier than other products in the market, though its $40 annual subscription to its art network is much more palatable. The device’s gesture controls also offer some quality controls beyond the mobile app. Netgear seems to have some real interest in
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Skydio announces autonomous drone developer platform, new $1,999 price point

Skydio launched their self-flying R1 drone a few months back, now the startup is launching a developer platform that will allow users to design and share their own skills for the device, potentially opening it up to a lot of new use cases. Alongside the platform launch, Skydio has also shared that they sold out of the first run of $2,499 “Frontier Edition” drones and they’ll begin selling the drone at $1,999 albeit with a couple less accessories (but still offer everything a user needs to get airborne).

The new Skydio Autonomy Platform is basically focused on getting developers to move past the functionality that ships in the box with the R1 and to build custom solutions for different industry problems. That could be an inspection or security use case where the user wants to run a program to have the R1

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HTC leans on Facebook’s Oculus as it tries to sell a VR subscription product

HTC is cozying up to its main competitor in the VR space, Facebook-owned Oculus as it looks to find a business model that will wrestle it out of the VR market doldrums. Today, the Taiwanese hardware company announced that its Viveport VR subscription service has opened up shop on a non-HTC headset, namely Facebook’s Oculus Rift. The product allows gamers to download a few titles per month from its store on a rolling basis. HTC has had a rough time finding where it can compete as a VR hardware company in a competitive landscape that is pulling in little to no hardware margins. Its answer has been to focus on enterprise customers with a high-end, overpriced headset and point consumers to a content subscription model that gives headset owners access to a library of titles and gives it the cut of developers’ VR revenues that have been going to its
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Amazon strikes $1 trillion market cap, 4 weeks after Apple did the same

Amazon just joined the exclusive $1 trillion club (briefly). The e-commerce behemoth jumped above a trillion dollar market cap on Tuesday during intraday trading. Its share price hit an all-time high of $2,050.27 earlier this morning bringing its value above the massive, yet meaningless, milestone. The share price is bouncing around and is currently sitting a few million below the number but the share price will inevitably rest above the number soon enough. Amazon, founded in 1994 with the lofty ambitions of taking on Borders and Barnes and Noble, has completely rewritten the rules of retail in the past couple decades as it has aggressively moved to build a massive logistics engine to power all sorts of e-commerce needs for a consumer base emboldened by the shift to mobile. This news is all the more notable because it follows Apple’s ascent to the same milestone just a few weeks ago.

Uber’s chief diversity officer is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt 2018

At TechCrunch Disrupt 2018, Uber’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Bo Young Lee will be joining us to talk about the ride-sharing company’s efforts to put detoxify its corporate culture and promote a more inclusive environment for employees. Lee was hired as the company’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer this past January, after leaving insurance company Marsh LLC where she held a similar role. Uber has obviously had its fair share of issues with fostering an inclusive culture, they’ve made some public efforts to showcase that the company was making active efforts to promote internal change and they seem to at least be having a more peaceful 2018 than 2017 — in terms of news surrounding the company’s culture. Nevertheless, there has still been plenty of movement surrounding diversity at the company even after Lee’s hire.

In April, the company released its

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Leaked shots show off new Google Pixel 3 design, specs

The Google Pixel 3 XL has had a truly comical amount of leaks to date, but for the most part its younger, smaller brother has been a bit a more camera-shy. Well, today we finally have some purported photos of the real-life baby Pixel 3 via an anonymous Reddit user who leaked the shots that were discovered by 9to5Google. [gallery ids="1702474,1702475,1702476,1702478"] The device seems to have a modest forehead and chin, certainly a bit larger than what we’ve seen on the screen-to-body ratio of the Pixel XL 3 photo leaks, but it seems to be a marked improvement over the smaller-bodied Pixel 2 and seems pretty similar to a miniature Pixel 2 XL in design. We also have some screenshots of the phone’s specs pointing to a 5.5 inch 2160 x 1080 display that’s rocking 440 dpi. From this leak we also can see that the battery capacity of
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Huge leak shows off the new iPhone XS

Get ready for a leaked look at the new iPhone XS. 9to5Mac has gotten its hands on an image of Apple’s next generation of iPhone hardware and the future looks pretty swanky. The leaked image showcases the new sizing of Apple’s soon-to-be-unveiled flagship bezel-less devices which will likely have 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch screens respectively. The two sizes of phones which will be called the iPhone XS according to the report. The pictured devices represent the higher-end OLED screen models, not the cheaper rumored notch LCD iPhone. The device will feature a new gold color shell. The iPhone X is currently available in space gray and silver.

Image credit: 9to5mac

A picture is worth a thousand words but there are still a lot of details we’re waiting on here obviously. Apple is expected to show off the new phone hardware as well as a new version of the
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