Airstrip and IBM aim to rebuild the world of medicine


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Watson health ibmphoto24 Flickr


Imagine you’re waiting to see your doctor for an annual checkup. Instead of leafing through a months-old copy of People Magazine in a stale waiting room for 30 minutes (despite arriving ten minutes early), you’re sitting on your couch at home perhaps finishing up some last minute work. You pick up your phone, tap on an app and initiate a video chat with your doctor.

When your doctor answers, she greets you and asks you to put a palm-size wireless stethoscope against your chest so she can listen to your heart and make sure your breathing is unrestrained. She then takes your blood pressure using another remote monitor. That data is automatically sent to a mobile health app that both you and your doctor have access to. After checking your vitals, your doctor goes over the lab results for the blood you had drawn at a nearby clinic last

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5 ways ecommerce will change in 2016


This post is by Ruth Reader from VentureBeat


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shopping mobile marketing


From mobile wallets to new lending platforms, from buy buttons to one-touch payments, 2015 saw the world of digital commerce advance in innovation and increase in popularity. What does 2016 hold? Based on emerging technologies and industry trends, here are five predictions we see changing ecommerce in the coming year.

Lending startups will become banks for the millennial generation

While 2014 was all about peer-to-peer lending, 2015 saw the rise of alternative lending platforms that follow a more traditional model, with lending apps like Earnest and Affirm raking in money to create credit and lending tools targeted at millennials. The question that these financial service providers will have to answer is, how do you get a generation that shies away from credit to warm to debt? A study earlier this year found that more than half of millennials don’t even have a credit card.

Affirm is trying to

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How the buy button defined mobile payments in 2015


This post is by Ruth Reader from VentureBeat


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Apple Pay


This year was a big one for mobile commerce. More people than ever are turning to their smartphones to discover products and make purchases. Sales on mobile devices are expected to top $100 billion this year, with mobile commerce comprising nearly a third of all ecommerce transactions.

In particular, two innovations stand out as having pushed the digital-shopping experience forward in 2015: the buy button and one-touch payments.

Buy buttons

This year, retailers began making goods available outside the shopping cart and the implementing the “buy button” on mobile apps.

At the end of 2014, everyone from Twitter to Tumblr teased a buy button — a single tap feature that lets you buy merchandise from a non-retailer site. The buy button replaces the practice of linking to a brand’s site with a shopping experience that occurs inside the app you’re browsing. Think shopping directly on Pinterest rather than on Net-a-porter.com. This year we

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Study: Facebook Messenger and Snapchat declined in popularity this year among college kids


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Android Apps


Though Facebook and Instagram still reign supreme among top apps, it looks like Messenger is losing steam with young users.

A new poll from Wayup queried 1,000 college students around the country about their favorite apps and found some fairly expected results. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat remain students’ go-to entertainment apps. According to this study the majority of the apps that students use revolve around social media. Among smaller brands, students cited Pinterest and Spotify as must-haves.

While a number of apps saw a drop-off in mentions during the beginning of the school year, two apps continued to maintain student interest. Two photo sharing apps, VSCO Cam and Instagram, grew consistently over the year.


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What was surprising about the study were the top three apps

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2015: The year tech got serious about maternity leave


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baby sleeping


From Netflix’s new parental-leave policy to Mark Zuckerberg’s two-month paternity break, 2015 was marked by a number of large tech companies revamping employee policies aimed at fostering a work-life balance in the harried lives of tech workers.

In August, Netflix said it would extend its maternal and paternal leave program, allowing new parents up to 12 months of paid time off — a virtually unheard of time-off allotment. Prior to Netflix’s announcement, only Virgin Group had a comparable leave policy. However, other tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are known to offer packages in the U.S. not only in the form of paid time off, but also day care and other perks for employees with kids.

The beefed-up leave policy spurred more tech companies to reevaluate their own paid-leave packages to make them more competitive in Silicon Valley’s cut-throat market for employee hiring and retention.


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Tech IPOs were mostly MIA in 2015, but some that listed fared well


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Box went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 23, 2015.


2015 was the slowest year for tech IPOs since 2009, when the Great Recession was coming to an end. Only 23 tech companies braved the market, down 58 percent from 2014. Together, they raised $4.2 billion, less than one-seventh of the IPO proceeds in the previous year.

Of the companies that did go public, some fared better than others. Somewhat predictably, many of the Class of 2015 that showed a history of losses saw their stocks sink. Others that were profitable or could make a strong case for future profits did much better. Here is a roundup of some of the year’s more notable IPOs.

Box

After much delay, Box went public in January at $14 a share and surged 65 percent on its first day.

During the second quarter, Box reported $65.6 million in revenue and a net loss of 28 cents per share, beating analyst expectations.

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6% of PayPal users now use One Touch quick checkouts


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PayPal


PayPal is revealing some new numbers today about One Touch, a feature that lets customers make online purchases with the tap of a button.

Eight months ago PayPal rolled out a tool called One Touch that eschews the normal checkout process of typing in billing credentials in favor of tapping a single button to make a purchase. Since rolling it out earlier this year, 10 million people have registered to use One Touch.

The feature only works at participating web and mobile retailer sites, but PayPal has about a million merchants signed up, giving customers plenty of places to shop. Still, it’s hard to say whether this represents rapid growth for PayPal. The number of One Touch users is just 6 percent of its overall user base.


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You can now order an Uber via Facebook Messenger


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Messenger Uber Request Ride


Today Facebook pulled the wrapping off its partnership with Uber to bring the transportation service to Messenger. Starting today, select users will be able to order a car through Uber inside of Messenger.

Facebook said the feature is still in testing and will only roll out to some users in the United States. However, if you’re one of the lucky early testers, your first ride using the service will be free (as long as your tab is under $20).

In this update to Messenger, the “more” button — designated by an ellipsis icon — will include a transportation feature. Where once the more button offered a list of GIF makers, stickers, apps, and filters, as well as a way to send a current location, it will now have three categories: transportation, GIFs, and location.

Messenger Uber More Button

Clicking on an address or the “Request a ride” suggestion inside of Messenger takes you to a new screen where you can order a car, set a destination,

Messenger Uber Request Ride
Messenger Uber Ride Updates

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Sheryl Sandberg: Racial and gender inequity is everyone’s problem


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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg


Quoting a Facebook mantra, COO Facebook Sheryl Sandberg said that gender and racial “inequities” are “everyone’s problem” in an Ask Me Anything-style forum on Quora.

She was answering a question about what men can do to create an environment where women can succeed in the tech industry. After citing an inspirational Facebook poster that reads “Nothing at Facebook Is Someone Else’s Problem,” she said, “The inequities that persist are everyone’s problem.”

“Gender inequality harms men and women, racism hurts whites and minorities, and equal opportunity benefits us all,” she added. She went on to offer these three pieces of advice:

Educate yourself and others about bias

Sandberg said that unconscious bias leads to a lot of inequity, noting that job applicants named John are always offered a higher salary than those named Jennifer, and job applicants with names considered “black” are often passed over in favor of their white counterparts. Fundamentally unconscious biases are

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Google brings in-app purchases to Android Pay and teases Australia launch


This post is by Ruth Reader from VentureBeat


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196132_18_Nexus3up_F_R2_TX (1)


Google is rolling out the next phase of its Apple Pay competitor. Starting today, you will now be able to pay with Android Pay inside mobile apps.

In addition to launching in-app payments, the company also announced plans to expand Android Pay to Australia in 2016.

Up until now the ability to make purchases in apps is what set Apple Pay apart from its various counterparts. Now Android Pay is leveling the playing field. Initially only a few apps will offer the new single touch payment method.

Android Pay merchants

However, Google is keen on helping developers add the payment method to more apps.

Though over a million physical retailers accept mobile payments at their terminals, the tap-to-pay method hasn’t caught on with U.S. consumers just yet. But mobile payments do have a huge opportunity to gain popularity as more shoppers are browsing stores from their phones.


Pandora launches personalized stations with Thumbprint Radio


This post is by Ruth Reader from VentureBeat


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Pandora new logo


Pandora is delving deeper into personalized content with the launch of Thumbprint Radio, which creates streams of music based on the songs you’ve thumbed up.

Pandora has always streamed music based on a chosen artist or song. Within those playlists, users can mark songs they like or don’t like with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Now Pandora is turning all those thumbs-up you’ve accrued over the years into a unique station.

The service takes into account all your thumbs-up, not just your most recent likes, which could infuse your music stream with songs you liked ten years ago. In addition to songs you like, Pandora will also add in songs it thinks you will like. The company promises that Thumbprint won’t be like listening to a bizarre shuffle of your favorite songs. Rather, Pandora says its team of curators will lead you through each genre “seamlessly.”


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Amazon Underground comes to Italy, Spain, Ireland, and others


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Amazon Underground app offers a new business model.


Amazon’s new underground app is coming to a host of new countries including Italy, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium. In total the app will roll out to 16 new regions.

First launched in August of this year, the Amazon Underground app gives users free access to games and some in-app products that normally require a fee. In lieu of in-app sales, Amazon pays developers based on how many minutes a customer plays a game. Already people in the US, UK, Germany, and France have access.

Amazon says its Underground app has $10,000 worth of apps and games like Office Suite Professional 8, Fruit Ninja, and Angry Birds Slingshot Stella.

As we noted earlier this year, Amazon Underground stands to change the way apps are monetized. Rather than relying on micropayments from in-app purchases, developers can get paid for how popular their app or game is with users.


Vimeo announces 4K video streaming for all


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Vimeo AppleTV app


Vimeo will soon roll out support for 4K streaming to all users.

Over the next several weeks, Vimeo will roll out 4K video streaming to all users.
The update will apply to Vimeo’s website as well as its Android, iOS, Amazon TV,  and Roku apps. Users will not only be able to upload 4K video to the platform, they’ll also be able to stream 4K video. Vimeo uses adaptive streaming to automatically render high quality video in a way that makes the most of a device’s network connection and data speed.

The video platform first introduced upload support for 4K quality videos last year, but the service was limited to PRO users. Last month, Vimeo also started supporting 4K quality video on its video making app Cameo.

Vimeo is just the latest video platform to start offering 4K streaming. Netflix and Amazon Prime both already stream some content in 4K, though both of these

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Encrypted messaging app Signal launches on desktop for Android users


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Signal


Moxie Marlinspike has been working for years to make an easy to use end-to-end encrypted communication app.

Last month, his organization Open Whisper Systems launched a protected voice calling and texting app called Signal for both iOS and Android. Now that app is coming to the desktop, closing the loop on encrypted communication.

The new desktop version is still in beta and it’s also only available for Android users via a Chrome app. The encrypted communications tool will let users receive messages across all devices — much like iMessage does on Apple products.

Prior to launching Signal, Marlinspike created two other apps: Textsecure and RedPhone. The former handled encrypted messaging and the latter for making protected calls; both have since been rolled into the new Signal app. At the heart of the many projects that he’s worked on is the desire to make encrypted communication accessible to everyone.

“I think when

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As Cyber Monday grows, Black Friday sees more digital shoppers


This post is by Ruth Reader from VentureBeat


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Women sit outside after shopping at Macy's Herald Square store during the early opening of the Black Friday sales in the Manhattan borough of New York


This year more people chose to do their holiday shopping from home — or from wherever they’re using their phones.

Cyber Monday sales increased 16 percent from last year, according to Custora, an ecommerce analytics company. In total, sales were expected to hit nearly $3 billion.

More than a quarter of online purchases Monday were made on a smartphone or tablet, and over 75 percent of those sales were made with an Apple device. Walmart too noted that over 70 percent of visits to Walmart.com came from mobile devices.


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Though sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were cumulatively greater than those on Cyber Monday, in-store sales took a dive. Shoppers spent $12.1 billion in stores, down from $13.6 billion last

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Target goes down on Cyber Monday


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target down


Cyber Monday has brought down Target’s website for the time being.

When attempting to go to Target.com, the website flashes this message:

“Please hold tight. So sorry, but high traffic’s causing delays. If you wouldn’t mind holding, we’ll refresh automatically & get things going ASAP. Thank you for your patience!”

Digital sales for Thanksgiving and Black Friday were up this year, according to Hooklogic, a company that measures sales statistics for retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toys ‘R Us, Macy’s and others. In fact, one study shows just as many people shopped offline as those that shopped online on Black Friday.

Online shoppers spent roughly $4.45 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to Adobe. With excitement mounting, Cyber Monday may bring in even more ecommerce sales this season.


The best tech gifts for the best gal in your life


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kick_stand


The holidays are upon us again, and that means buying stuff for the people you love. To help you navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of picking out presents, here’s a list of gadgets that your lady might like.

Some of these gifts might not be ready to stick under a tree just yet, but they represent some of the coolest gadgets we heard about this year.

Sona

Sona_RoseGold_White

I’m going to kick this off strong with a wearable. Recently Caeden, a company known for stylish headphones, launched a leather wearable that doesn’t feature a screen like many of its contemporaries. It won’t buzz or tell you when to take a walk around your office. Rather, the Sona records your heart variability in real time, so you can check how stressed you are throughout the day via the wearables app.

When you do need a break, the app features five 15-minute meditations and one silent meditation. It

pebble time round
Dash ear buds
parrot zik
Twist bulb
Samsung Gear VR
Destek VR
figment VR
kick_stand
Light L16
foreo issa toothbrush

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Type this Star Wars phrase into Google for a fun Easter egg


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EA is making games based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and other Star Wars stories.


Google is really stoked for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

So much so, that when you Google the phrase “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away,” on desktop the search page changes from a white screen with blue links to a scrolling black screen with yellow text — just like the opening crawl for Star Wars movies. It also plays the Star Wars theme song.

star wars

This is the second promotional stunt that Google has run in advance of The Force AwakensYesterday, the company launched a website where Google users can sign-up to be apart of the “light side” or the “dark side” and have extensions added to their various Google apps for a Star Wars experience. For instance, in Google Search, the search bar is turned into a light saber.

There are bound to be more Easter eggs as the film debut approaches. In a blog post

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This project to reinvent the physical newsstand is way more interesting than Apple’s News app


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The New Newsstand


Imagine that instead of queuing up in a coffee shop in the morning, you make a quick stop at a kiosk on your way to work and buy a bottle of cold brew coffee and a protein bar with a scan of your smart phone.

As you pay, you notice a shelf with an Oculus Rift headset on it. You ask the cashier what it’s there for and he tells you that it’s demonstrating a new game and asks, “Would you like to try it?”

This is the futuristic shopping experience that Mother cofounder Andrew Deitchman hopes to achieve with his latest venture: the New Stand. Mother is a nebulous ad agency known for going outside the bounds of traditional advertising, like when it created a full length feature film that won Best British Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2008. The company also has an investment arm. It’s no shocker that Dietchman’s

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Ritzy-sounding Caviar is now working with fast-food king McDonald’s


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McDonald's Big Mac


Food delivery service Caviar is adding another big brand to its list of partner restaurants. Today it will start delivering McDonald’s to offices around New York.

This whole week, Caviar’s quick delivery service, Fastbite, will be serving up McDonald’s sausage McMuffin and hash browns for five bucks. Fastbite promises to deliver meals in 15 minutes or less to hungry workers at lunchtime. This is the second major food chain that Caviar has teamed up with after Chipotle.

Caviar is a subsidiary of Square, which has been bulking up its restaurant services since acquiring Caviar last August. This year, the company acquired Fastbite and added a point of sale interface geared towards bartenders. The partnership with McDonald’s is helping to solidify its position in the fast-food delivery space.

McDonald’s has struggled for the last few years to maintain relevance in a country that is increasingly moving toward healthy and organic eating. Targeting a lunch crowd tethered to their

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