Google partners with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to put Android into millions of vehicles

Google will partner with Renault -Nissan-Mitsubishi, the largest auto alliance in the world by vehicle sales, to put Android-based infotainment systems into millions of cars, the companies told Wall Street Journal. The alliance’s next-generation infotainment system and dashboard displays will use Android and launch in 2021. Drivers will be able to access Google’s maps, app store and voice assistant from their vehicle’s dashboards. The new partnership is a giant step forward for Google’s ambitions to get its operating system into more cars (the alliance sold a combined 5.5 million vehicles in the first half of this year, putting it ahead of Volkswagen and Toyota Motor). The alliance’s executives told WSJ that they decided on the partnership because many of their customers are accustomed to using Google Maps and other apps and prefer sticking with them instead of using software developed by automakers when they drive. Auto executives have also
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Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Twitter will now put live streams and broadcasts started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline, making it easier to see what they’re doing in realtime. In a tweet, Twitter said that that the new feature will include breaking news, personalities and sports. The social networking giant included the new feature in its iOS and Android apps, updated this week. Among the updates, Twitter said it’s now also supporting audio-only live broadcasts, as well as through its sister broadcast service Periscope. Last month, Twitter discontinued its app for iOS 9 and lower versions, which according to Apple’s own data still harbors some 5 percent of all iPhone and iPad users.

Everyday home gear made smart

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions. If you only have one smart home device, it’s likely something simple and fun like a voice-controlled speaker or color-changing LED light bulb. As you expand your smart home setup, you can begin to swap out gear that isn’t as flashy but you still use everyday. Switching to connected locks, power outlets and smoke alarms are all simple installs that can improve your safety and comfort in your own home. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite essentials made smart for anyone looking to upgrade. Smart lock: Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen
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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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Indonesian fintech startup Moka raises $24M led by Sequoia India

Indonesia’s Moka, a startup that helps SMEs and retailers manage payment and other business operations, has pulled in a $24 million Series B round for growth. The investment is led by Sequoia India and Southeast Asia — which recently announced a new $695 million fund — with participation from new backers SoftBank Ventures Korea, EDBI — the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board — and EV Growth, the later stage fund from Moka seed investor East Ventures. Existing investors Mandiri Capital, Convergence and Fenox also put into the round. The deal takes Moka to $27.9 million raised to date, according to data from Crunchbase. Moka was started four years ago primarily as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal with some basic business functionality. Today, it claims to work with 12,500 retailers in Indonesia and its services include sales reports, inventory management, table management, loyalty programs, and more. Its primary areas of
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Google gets more RCS messaging support from Samsung

Google has secured a bit more buy in from Samsung for a next generation text messaging standard it’s long been promoting. The Android OS maker’s hope for Rich Communication Services (RCS), which upgrades what SMS can offer to support richer comms and content swapping, can provide its fragmented Android ecosystem with a way to offer comparably rich native messaging — a la Apple’s iMessage on iOS. But it’s a major, major task given how many Android devices are out there. And Google needs the entire industry to step with it to support RCS (not just device makers but carriers too) if it’s going to achieve anything more than fiddling around the edges. Zooming out for a moment, the even bigger problem is the messaging ship has sailed, with massively popular platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram having already offloaded billions of users into their respective walled gardens, pulling the center of
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Comma.ai’s George Hotz ousts George Hotz as CEO

Comma.ai’s board, of which founder George Hotz is the only member, is making changes at the autonomous driving startup: Hotz is no longer CEO of the company. A new CEO, who Hotz declined to name, is expected to be announced Friday via the company’s Medium blog. He confirmed that the CEO is indeed a human and a “very talented one,” Hotz told TechCrunch. Hotz, who gained worldwide fame under the hacker alias “geohot” when he cracked the iPhone and PlayStation 3 as a teenager, isn’t leaving the company he founded. Instead, Hotz and two others are part of a new division called Comma.ai research that will focus on building out behavioral models that can drive cars. Comma.ai found the “right product market fit” during his three-year tenure as CEO, Hotz said. “We have very good growth numbers, now it’s time to get the slope on growth even
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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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Fortnite hits 15 million installs on Android

Circumventing the Google Play store wasn’t exactly a gamble for Epic, given the fact that Fortnite is essentially a license to print money. But even by its own standards, the game is posting some impressive numbers three weeks after hitting Android.

In a blog post this week, Epic noted that the wildly popular sandbox survival game hit 23 million players on Google’s mobile operating system, spread out across 15 million APK installs. Those numbers are arriving 21 days after the title launched on the OS.

This, like every other piece of Fortnite news, means big bucks for Epic. That’s especially the case here, however, given that the launch means the gaming company is cutting Google’s 30 percent take out of the equation.

Along with the numbers, Epic also highlighted some of its efforts to tackle potential malware threats — an added issue given that the game isn’t distributed through Google’s

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What’s the Best Way to Unlock Your Android Phone?

There are a number of different ways to unlock an Android smartphone or tablet. In fact, you probably have a favorite one you’ve been using for as long as you’ve owned your device. We’re all creatures of habit, but you might want to consider other unlocking methods that might be more secure, convenient, or expedient. Read more...

With a $10 million round, Nigeria’s Paga plans global expansion

Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for an international expansion with $10 million in funding let by the Global Innovation Fund. 

The company is planning to release its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch at Disrupt San Francisco.

Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom’s M-Pesa, according to Oviosu.

“We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he  said of Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile money product. “Our goal is to

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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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How Do You Move Text Messages Between Android and iOS?

We’re kicking Tech 911 up to “hard mode” this week—a little—because moving data from one smartphone platform to the other can be tricky. In a perfect world, there would be a quick, easy-to-use solution to getting your text messages from the platform you’re leaving to the platform you’re going to. And there is—you just… Read more...

The Google Assistant is now bilingual 

The Google Assistant just got more useful for multilingual families. Starting today, you’ll be able to set up two languages in the Google Home app and the Assistant on your phone and Google Home will then happily react to your commands in both English and Spanish, for example. Today’s announcement doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that Google announced at its I/O developer conference earlier this year that it was working on this feature. It’s nice to see that this year, Google is rolling out its I/O announcements well before next year’s event. That hasn’t always been the case in the past. Currently, the Assistant is only bilingual and it still has a few languages to learn. But for the time being, you’ll be able to set up any language pair that includes English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. More pairs are coming in the future and
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Google’s Wear OS gets a new look

Wear OS, Google’s smartphone operating system that was once called Android Wear, is getting a new look today. Google says the overall idea here is to give you quicker access to information and more proactive help. In line with the Google Fit redesign, Wear OS now also provides you with the same kind of health coaching as the Android app. In practice, this means you can now swipe through multiple notifications at once, for example. Previously, you had to go from one notifications card to the next, which sound minor but was indeed a bit of a hassle. Like before, you bring up the new notifications feed by swiping up. If you want to reply or take any other action, you tap the notification to bring up those options. Wear OS is also getting a bit of a Google Now replacement. Simply swipe right and the Google Assistant
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Always Screenshot Your Boarding Pass

Your mobile boarding pass should always be a tap or two away from your home screen. You’ve got a link to it in your email or your texts, or you’re sure you put it into Apple Wallet. But should isn’t always good enough when you get up to the TSA desk and the airport’s wifi is flaking out. Always take a screenshot. Read more...

Huawei bags Apple’s 2nd place spot in global smartphone sales: Gartner

Another analyst has Huawei overtaking Apple in the global smartphone rankings for the second quarter this year. The latest figures from Gartner put Huawei ahead on sales to end users in Q2.

Overall, Gartner says sales of smartphones to end users grew 2% in the quarter, to reach 374 million units.

The analyst pegs the Chinese smartphone maker with a 13.3% marketshare, saying it sold ~49.8M devices in the quarter, up from 9.8% in the year before quarter — ahead of Apple, which it calculates took an 11.9% marketshare (down from 12.1% in Q2 2017), selling ~44.7M iPhones. According to Gartner’s figures, Samsung also lost share year-over-year — declining 12.7% in the quarter. The Galaxy smartphone maker retained its no.1 spot in the rankings, with 19.3% in Q2 (vs 22.6% in the equivalent quarter last year) and ~72.3M devices
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Fortnite’s Android installer shipped with an Epic security flaw

Google has clapped back in tremendous fashion at Epic Games, which earlier this month decided to make the phenomenally popular Fortnite available for Android via its own website instead of Google’s Play Store. Unfortunately, the installer had a phenomenally dangerous security flaw in it that would allow a malicious actor to essentially install any software they wanted. Google wasted exactly zero time pointing out this egregious mistake. By way of a short explanation why this was even happening, Epic explained when it announced its plan that it would be good to have “competition among software sources on Android,” and that the best would “succeed based on merit.” Everyone of course understood that what he meant was that Epic didn’t want to share the revenue from its cash cow with Google, which takes 30 percent of in-app purchases. Many warned that this was a security risk for several reasons, for
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The top 10 startups from Y Combinator’s Demo Day S’18 Day 2

59 startups took the stage at Y Combinator’s Demo Day 2  and among the highlights were a company that helps developers manage in-app subscriptions; a service that lets you create animojis from real photos; and a surplus medical equipment reselling platform. Oh… and there was also a company that’s developed an entirely new kind of life form using e coli bacteria. So yeah, that’s happening. Based on some investor buzz and what caught TechCrunch’s eye, these are our picks from the second day of Y Combinator’s presentations. You can find the full list of companies that presented on Day 1 here, and our top picks from Day 1 here. 

64-x

With a founding team including some of the leading luminaries in the field of biologically inspired engineering (including George Church, Pamela Silver, and Jeffrey Way from Harvard’s Wyss Institute) 64-x is engineering organisms to function in otherwise inaccessible
RevenueCat founders
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Amazon-backed lending platform Capital Float buys consumer finance startup Walnut

India-based lending platform Capital Float has been busy raising capital, having closed an Amazon-led $22 million extension to its $45 million Series C last year —  now it’s putting some of that capital work after it acquired personal finance service Walnut. The acquisition is $30 million spread across cash and stock, the companies said, and it’ll boost five-year-old Capital Float’s move into the consumer space. The company has to date focused on serving SME and business customers, but last year it began to offer financial services to consumers. Walnut helps consumers manage their finances and track spending, and it claims seven million downloads on Android . It also includes a feature — Walnut Prime — that offers an instant credit line. Already, it said, it has handed out nearly $15 million in consumer loans. “Walnut Prime is a product of deep interest to us, and it will essentially become a new addition
to our
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