TaskRabbit kicks off Canadian expansion

TaskRabbit officially launched in Canada today. The on-demand network that connects people with “taskers,” or others willing to do their household chores or errands for a fee, is kicking off its Canadian expansion in the greater Toronto area before rolling out in Vancouver in October and Montreal sometime in 2019. This is the first major move abroad for the company in some time, as well as its first move under IKEA’s ownership. TaskRabbit first expanded beyond the U.S. in 2014, when it launched its app in the UK. Otherwise, the service is only available in North America. IKEA bought TaskRabbit 1 year ago as part of a deal that has allowed the company to operate independently from the Swedish furniture retailer under CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot. TaskRabbit, before its exit, had raised $38 million from investors including Founders Fund, First Round Capital and Floodgate.

Kayak’s new AR feature will tell you if your carry-on bag fits the overhead bin

Popular travel app Kayak has put augmented reality to clever use with a new feature that lets you measure the size of your carry-on bag using just your smartphone. Its updated iOS app now takes advantage of Apple’s ARKit technology to introduce a new Bag Measurement tool that will help you calculate your bag’s size so you can find out if it fits in the overhead bin – you know, before your trip. The tool is handy because the dimensions of permitted carry-on luggage can differ from airline to airline, Kayak explains, so it’s not as simple these days to figure out if your bag will fit. In the new Kayak iOS app, you can access the measurement tool through the Flight Search feature. The app will first prompt you to scan the floor in order to calibrate the measurements. You then move your phone around the bag to
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Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, has been a controversial project since its debut. The need for the framework has been clear: the payloads of mobile pages can be just insane, what with layers and layers of images, Javascript, ad networks, and more slowing down page rendering time and costing users serious bandwidth on metered plans. Yet, the framework has been aggressively foisted on the community by Google, which has backed the project not just with technical talent, but also by making algorithmic changes to its search results that have essentially mandated that pages comply with the AMP project’s terms — or else lose their ranking on mobile searches. Even more controversially, as part of making pages faster, the AMP project uses caches of pages on CDNs — which are hosted by Google (and also Cloudflare now). That meant that Google’s search results would direct a user
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HQ Trivia teases upcoming Wheel of Fortune-style mobile game

HQ Trivia is gearing up to debut a follow-up to its wildly popular live mobile game show. Called HQ Words, the company announced this morning they’ll release the Wheel of Fortune-style game in October.

HQ Trivia, which airs twice per day and awards winners as much as $100,000 for successfully answering 12 questions, debuted on the app store last August and was a viral success. The game, usually hosted by comedian Scott Rogowsky (pictured above), spawned a whole cohort of copycats as a result Its app store ranking, however, has been steadily decreasing in recent months, as pointed out by TechCrunch’s Josh Constine in a recent article on HQ Trivia’s Apple TV app launch. In a response to that article, HQ Trivia co-founder Rus Yusupov hinted at new games in development: “Games are a hits business and

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YouTube to shut down standalone Gaming app, as gaming gets a new home on YouTube

YouTube will no longer maintain a separate app targeting gaming and live game streaming, the company announced today. The YouTube Gaming app, which first arrived in 2015, will be sunset sometime next spring as its host of features make their way over to YouTube’s main site. Over the years, the YouTube Gaming app has been a place where YouTube experimented with features catering to game creators and viewers who like to watch live and recorded esports. Here, it tested things like Game Pages to make games more discoverable, Super Chat, and Channel Memberships – features which the Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch had also popularized among the game community. Some of YouTube Gaming’s features became so well-received that the company brought them to YouTube. For example, this June YouTube introduced channel memberships to its main site. And before that, it had brought Super Chat – a way for creators
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Instagram will promote mid-term voting with stickers, registration info

Facebook is getting ready to purposefully influence the U.S. mid-term elections after spending two years trying to safeguard against foreign interference. Instagram plans to run ads in Stories and feed powered by TurboVote that will target all US users over 18 and point them towards information on how to get properly registered and abide by voting rules. Then when election day arrives, users will be able to add an “I Voted” sticker to their photos and videos that link to voting info like which polling place to go to. Combined, these efforts could boost voter turnout, especially amongst Instagram’s core audience of millenials. If one political party’s base skews younger, they could receive an advantage. “Ahead of National Voter Registration Day, we are helping our community register to vote and get to the polls on November 6th” Instagram writes. “From today, Instagram will connect US voters with the information
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Google’s parental control software Family Link expands to teens

Google’s parental control software for mobile devices, Family Link, will now help parents of teenagers, too. The company announced this morning the addition of new features aimed at parents of children over the age of 13. Perhaps the most controversial choice Google has made with this expansion is that teens can choose to turn off supervision via the software. While this does send an alert to parents, it’s a decidedly odd choice. After all, if parents are planning on controlling smartphone use through Family Link – which lets them do things like manage and track screen time, view the location of the device, or control which apps are able to be installed, for example – it seems that parent and child would have already had a conversation about the topic. And while it’s a nice gesture to ask teens to give consent to monitoring, it’s a hollow one –
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Erectile pharmacy app Roman raises $88M to launch ‘quit smoking’ kit

Roman is a rocket ship, and I’m not talking about how it sells Viagra and Cialis. Less than a year after launching its cloud pharmacy for erectile dysfunction with $3 million in funding and a five-person team, Roman has grown to seventy team members and a revenue run-rate in the 10s of millions — up 720 percent since January. It’s sparked over a million patient-physician visits, phone calls, and text conversations through its telemedicine portal for getting diagnoses and prescriptions. And now Roman is ready to expand beyond men, so it’s dropping the ‘Man. Today, the newly renamed ‘Ro’ unveiled its next product, Zero, a $129 ‘quit smoking’ kit containing a month’s worth of prescription cessation medication bupropion and nicotine gum, plus an app for tracking progress and learning how to stay motivated through hunger, nausea, and cravings. Pre-orders open today. “Erectile dysfunction medication is a knee brace. It helps you to walk
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Apple’s iBooks revamp, Apple Books, is here

Apple’s new and improved iBooks app, now called Apple Books, has popped up on iPhones across the world today with the release of iOS 12, the software update available to download as of this morning. The new app has five tabs: Reading Now, Library, Book Store, Search and, for the first time, a dedicated Audiobooks tab. Apple first previewed it at WWDC in June. The company said its sleek new look was the “biggest books redesign ever.” Cleaner UI, coupled with larger images, gives the app a more modern feel and an overall better experience. More importantly, it sets up Apple to better compete with other audio/e-book apps, like the Amazon-owned Audible. < div class="mezzanine-player" style="position: relative; padding-top: 0; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 100%; overflow: hidden;">
In the Book Store, users can explore recently released titles and best-selling books, as well as curated collections and special offers; it’s available in 51 countries and free books for download are available in 155 countries. Apple Books is also a lot smarter than its predecessor. As you download titles and engage with the app, the app will send you personalized recommendations based on your activity. Indeed, it was time for an update. Audiobooks are more popular today than when Apple first launched iBooks in 2010 and are very much deserving of their own tab. According to Pew Research Center, one in five Americans regularly listens to them — a 28 percent increase from 2016.