Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Wing Aviation, the drone-based delivery startup born out of Google’s X labs, has received the first FAA certification in the country for commercial carriage of goods. It might not be long before you’re getting your burritos sent par avion.

The company has been performing tests for years, making thousands of flights and supervised deliveries to show that its drones are safe and effective. Many of those flights were in Australia, where in suburban Canberra the company recently began its first commercial operations. Finland and other countries are also in the works..

Wing’s first operations, starting later this year, will be in Blackburg and Christiansburg, VA; obviously an operation like this requires close coordination with municipal authorities as well as federal ones. You can’t just get a permission slip from the FAA and start flying over everyone’s

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Waymo picks Detroit factory to build self-driving cars


This post is by Kirsten Korosec from TechCrunch


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Waymo, the self-driving vehicle technology startup under Alphabet, is setting up shop in a Detroit factory on American Axle & Manufacturing’s campus.

Waymo said Tuesday it will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose the existing facility, which was most recently used as a sequencing center for a local parts supplier. The goal is to begin moving into the facility by mid-2019 and begin preparing the site for manufacturing Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Level 4 is a designation by SAE that means the vehicle handles all of the driving under certain conditions.

“By choosing to establish its new facility in Detroit, Waymo is continuing the city’s momentum and further cementing Michigan as a leader in mobility and the epicenter of advanced automotive manufacturing,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement.

In January, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation voted to approve Waymo’s plan to set up a manufacturing facility in

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Verizon and Google ink deal to offer YouTube TV to Verizon wireless and Fios subscribers


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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Just days after Google and Amazon buried the hatchet over their longstanding streaming feud, Google has made another interesting inroad in its bid to bring yet more ubiquity to its YouTube-based premium video efforts. Today, Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) and the search giant announced a new partnership where Verizon customers will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV through their accounts to watch “on whatever platform they choose,” in the words of Erin McPheron, Verizon’s head of content strategy and acquisition.

That will mean, in Verizon terms, getting a YouTube TV stream if you are a 5G wireless home customer as part of an internet bundle, or as part of your Fios subscription if you are a customer of Verizon’s fiber-optic TV, telephone and internet service. It sounds like there will be other options to come. “Verizon will also offer unique, high-value YouTube TV promotions to customers across platforms,” the

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Sri Lanka blocks social media sites after deadly explosions


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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The government of Sri Lanka has temporarily blocked access to several social media services following deadly explosions that ripped through the country, killing at least 207 people and injuring hundreds more.

Eight bombings were reported, including during Easter services at three churches, on the holiest weekend of the Christian calendar.

In a brief statement, the Sri Lankan president’s secretary Udaya Seneviratne said the government has “decided to temporarily block social media sites including Facebook and Instagram,” in an effort to curb “false news reports.” The government said the services will be restored once the investigations into the attacks had concluded.

Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has described the explosions as a terrorist incident.

Nalaka Gunawardene, a science writer and Sri Lankan native, confirmed in a tweet that Facebook-owned WhatsApp was also blocked in the country. Others reported that YouTube was inaccessible. But some said they were able to

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Google: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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Now that Lyft is a publicly traded company, and Uber has filed its S-1, it is becoming pretty obvious that Google is the big winner in the on-demand mobility sweepstakes. In 2017, it invested $500 million in Lyft at about $39.75 a share, and at present, that is close to $750 million. Google had also invested about $258 million in Uber in 2013 before things got awkward between the two companies.

So, if Uber goes public at $100 billion market capitalization, Google’s 5.2 percent stake will be worth $5.2 billion. Later, Google’s Waymo sued Uber, and the two companies settled, with Waymo getting 0.34 percent ownership in Uber—or about $245 million. That is about $340 million or so if the company goes public at a $100 billion valuation.

Now, that’s a nice way for Google to pay for all the money it needs to spend on Continue reading “Google: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”

Google & Amazon reach an agreement to bring their streaming apps to each others’ platforms


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Google and Amazon are burying the hatchet to better serve users of their respective streaming video platforms, the companies announced this morning. In the months ahead, the official YouTube app will come to Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, while the Prime Video app will come to Chromecast and other devices with Chromecast built-in.

Prime Video will also become broadly available across the Android TV partner ecosystem, and YouTube’s sister apps — YouTube TV and YouTube Kids — will come to Fire TV later in the year.

Google says YouTube users on Fire TV will be able to sign in, have full access to their library, and play videos in 4K HDR at 60 fps on supported devices.

Prime Video app users, meanwhile, will be able to stream from the Prime Video catalog, including Amazon’s original programming, 4K videos, and access their Prime Video Channel subscriptions.

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Budget Your Google Play Spending With this New In-App Setting


This post is by Brendan Hesse from Lifehacker


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One of the best things about apps is their affordability. Often, mobile apps can do things that desktop or web-based software and service can, but at fractions of the price. Even in-app purchases and monthly subscriptions for premium versions of some apps are usually minuscule—often no more than a cup of coffee.

Read more…

Google Cloud brings on 27-year SAP veteran as it doubles down on enterprise adoption


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Thomas Kurian, the newly-minted CEO of Google Cloud, used the company’s Cloud Next conference last week to lay out his vision for the future of Google’s cloud computing platform. That vision involves, in part, a hiring spree to give businesses that want to work with Google more people to talk to and get help from. Unsurprisingly, Kurian is also looking to put his stamp on the executive team, too, and today announced that former SAP executive Robert Enslin is joining Google Cloud as its new President of Global Customer Operations.

Enslin’s hire is another clear signal that Kurian is focused on enterprise customers. Enslin, after all, is a veteran of the enterprise business, with 27 years at SAP, where he served on the company’s executive board until he announced his resignation from the company earlier this month. After leading various parts of SAP, including as president of its cloud product

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Google Home’s Philips Hue integration can now wake you up gently


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Maybe you love the sound of your alarm clock blaring in the morning, heralding a new day full of joy and adventure. More likely, though, you don’t. If you prefer a more gentle wakeup (and have invested in some smart home technology), here’s some good news: Google Home now lets you use your Philips Hue lights to wake you up by slowly changing the light in your room.

Philips first announced this integration at CES earlier this year, with a planned rollout in March. Looks like that took a little while longer, as Google and Philips gently brought this feature to life.

Just like you can use your Home to turn on ‘Gentle Wake,’ which starts changing your lights 30 minutes before your wake-up time to mimic a sunrise, you can also go the opposite way and have the lights mimics sunset as you get read to go to bed.

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Google starts rolling out better AMP URLs


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Publishers don’t always love Google’s AMP pages, but readers surely appreciate their speed, and while publishers are loath to give Google more power, virtually every major site now supports this format. One AMP quirk that publisher’s definitely never liked is about to go away, though. Starting today, when you use Google Search and click on an AMP link, the browser will display the publisher’s real URLs instead of an “http//google.com/amp” link.

This move has been in the making for well over a year. Last January, the company announced that it was embarking on a multi-month effort to load AMP pages from the Google AMP cache without displaying the Google URL.

At the core of this effort was the new Web Packaging standard, which uses signed exchanges with digital signatures to let the browser trust a document as if it belongs to a publisher’s origin. By default, a browser

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Google expands its container service with GKE Advanced


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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With its Kuberntes Engine (GKE), Google Cloud Google has long offered a managed service for running containers on its platform. Kubernetes users tend to have a variety of needs, but so far, Google only offered a single tier of GKE that wasn’t necessarily geared toward the high-end enterprise users the company is trying to woo. Today, however, the company announced a new advanced edition of GKE that introduces a number of new features and an enhanced financially backed SLA, additional security tools and new automation features. You can think of GKE Advanced as the enterprise version of GKE.

The new service will launch in the second quarter of the year and hasn’t yet announced pricing. The regular version of GKE is now called GKE Standard.

Google says the service builds upon the company’s own learnings from running a complex container infrastructure internally for years.

For enterprise customers, the financially backed

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Waymo launches robotaxi app on Google Play


This post is by Kirsten Korosec from TechCrunch


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Waymo is making its ride-hailing app more widely available by putting it on the Google Play store as the self-driving car company prepares to open up its service to more Phoenix residents.

The company, which spun out to become a business under Alphabet, launched a limited commercial robotaxi service called Waymo One in the Phoenix area in December. The Waymo One self-driving car service, and accompanying app, was only available to Phoenix residents who were part of its early rider program, which aimed to bring vetted regular folks into its self-driving minivans.

Technically, Waymo has had Android and iOS apps for some time. But interested riders would only gain access to the app after first applying on the company’s website. Once accepted to the early program program, they would be sent a link to the app to download to their device.

The early rider program, which launched in April 2017,

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Smart speakers installed base to top 200 million by year end


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Smart speakers’ global installed base is on track to top 200 million by the end of this year, according to a report out today from analysts at Canalys. Specifically, the firm forecasts the installed base will grow by 82.4 percent from 114 million units in 2018 to 207.9 million in 2019. The U.S. will continue to lead in terms of smart speaker adoption, but a good portion of this year’s growth will also come from East Asian markets –  particularly China, the report says.

The firm estimates 166 percent year-over-year growth in the installed base for smart speakers in mainland China this year – going from 22.5 million units in 2018 to 59.9 million in 2019 – to reach 13 percent smart speaker penetration in the region. That’s compared with 46 percent growth in the U.S.

The market for China will also look much

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After its first attempt botched the landing, SpaceIL commits to second Beresheet lunar mission


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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The minds behind Israel’s SpaceIL attempted lunar landing convened today to begin planning for a second lunar mission.

In an announcement yesterday, the chairman of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, said that the leaders of the group behind the Beresheet launch would begin meeting to find a new group of donors for another run at a lunar landing.

On Thursday the first Israeli mission to the moon ended in failure when the organization’s spacecraft Beresheet (which means Genesis in Hebrew) crashed on the lunar surface.

“This is part of my message to the younger generation: Even if you do not succeed, you get up again and try,” Kahn said in a statement.

At a cost of $200 million the Beresheet mission would

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Harry Potter, the Platform, and the Future of Niantic


This post is by Greg Kumparak from TechCrunch


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What is Niantic? If they recognize the name, most people would rightly tell you it’s a company that makes mobile games, like Pokémon GO, or Ingress, or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

But no one at Niantic really seems to box it up as a mobile gaming company. Making these games is a big part of what the company does, yes, but the games are part of a bigger picture: They are a springboard, a place to figure out the constraints of what they can do with augmented reality today, and to figure out how to build the tech that moves it forward. Niantic wants to wrap their learnings back into a platform upon which others can build their own AR products, be it games or something else. And they want to be ready for whatever comes after smartphones.

Niantic is a bet on augmented reality becoming more and more a

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Claire Delaunay will be speaking at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI next week at UC Berkeley


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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We’re a week out from our third-annual TC Sessions: Robotics event, and we still have some surprises left to announce. I know, we’re just as surprised as you are. We’ve already announced that Marc Raibert, Colin Angle, Melonee Wise and Anthony Levandowski will be joining us in Berkeley next week, and today we’re adding Claire Delaunay to the list of distinguished names.

Delaunay is VP of engineering at NVIDIA. Prior to NVIDIA, she worked as the director of Engineering at Uber, after the ridesharing service acquired her startup, Otto. She has also worked as the robotics program lead at Google.

She is currently the head of NVIDIA Isaac. The company’s robotics platform is designed to make it easier for companies of various experience levels and means to develop robots. Delaunay will discuss the platform and showcase some of NVIDIA’s in-house robotics reference devices, including Kaya and Carter.

Speaking

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WTF is Baillie Gifford?


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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The SoftBank Vision Fund has been screaming from the venture headlines the last few months, driven by eye-popping rounds (and valuations!) into some of the most notable startups around the world. Yet, SoftBank isn’t the only player rapidly buying up the cap tables of top startups. Indeed, another firm, more than a century old, has been fighting for that late-stage equity crown.

Baillie Gifford .

… Who the what?

When our fintech contributor Gregg Schoenberg interviewed Charles Plowden, the firm’s joint senior partner, about the firm’s prodigious investing, we realized that we have never gone in-depth on one of the most influential investors in Silicon Valley. So here goes.

Baillie Gifford is a 110-year-old asset management firm based out of Edinburgh, Scotland, and has long had a penchant for pre-IPO tech companies. The firm was an early investor into some

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Google loses its chief diversity officer


This post is by Megan Rose Dickey from TechCrunch


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Google’s chief diversity officer, Danielle Brown, has left the company. Brown, who became Google’s CDO in June 2017 after serving in a similar role at Intel, announced today that she’s joined payroll and benefits startup Gusto to lead its chief people operations.

In Brown’s LinkedIn post announcing the job change, she noted that she will have the opportunity to “engage and support an internal team” as well as “influence how we build our product to drive positive change around critical issues like diversity, compliance, and employee engagement for millions of workers in the U.S.”

For Google, this means Melonie Parker will step into the role of CDO, following a nine-month stint as Google’s head of diversity. In a statement to TechCrunch, Google VP of People Operations Eileen Naughton said:

We’re grateful to Danielle for her excellent work over the past two years to improve representation in Google’s workforce

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With consumer G+ dead, Currents hopes to make waves in the enterprise


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Google today announced that Google+ in G Suite, the last remaining remnants of what was once Google’s attempt to rival Facebook and Twitter, will now be called Currents. We don’t need to belabor the fact that Google+ was a flop and that its death was probably long overdue. We’ve done that. Now it’s time to look ahead and talk about what’s next for Currents. To do that, I sat down with David Thacker, the VP of Product Management for G Suite, at Google’s Cloud Next conference.

As Thacker told me, Google has shifted its resources to have the former Google+ team focus on Currents instead. But before we get to what that teams plans to do, let’s talk about the name first. Currents, after all, was also the name of the predecessor of Google Play Newsstand, the app that was the predecessor of the Google News app.

The official line

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