Tech

Prime Down: Amazon’s sale day turns into fail day

It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, readers are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page. Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. I just bought this tent two weeks ago for $120. Some users are reporting errors when completing a purchase, too. This is a huge blow to Amazon and its much faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks. It’s not a good look for the world’s largest retailer. Updating…

Nuraphones get active noise cancelling via software update

I like the Nuraphones a lot. In fact, I named the sound-adapting headphones one of my favorite things of 2017. Clearly I’m not alone in that enthusiasm, eithe — the Melbourne-based startup scored $4.7 million to expand its market early last year. Nura announced this week that it’s making its headphones even better, courtesy of a software update. The company is pushing out a bunch of tweaks to the headphones through a upgrade initiative it’s deemed “G2.” Chief among them is active noise cancelation — something that was conspicuously absent from the products upon release. Until now, the company has relied on the passive version — using the unique combination of over-ear cups and in-ear buds to muffle out ambient noise. The update, however, will bring the ability to filter out low-frequency s...

CRISPR DNA editing may cause serious genetic damage, researchers warn

CRISPR-Cas9, the gene-editing tool that is currently the darling of biotech and many other fields, may not be quite as miraculous as early tests suggested. A new study finds that what scientists thought of as a scalpel may be more like a felling axe, causing damage hundreds of times what was previously observed. Before anyone panics and checks out the window for mutated monstrosities, it should be said right away that this isn’t a nightmare scenario by any means: the tool can still be used in many ways safely, and the clinical repercussions of the damage are unexplored. But this unexpected limitation of a tool so widely applied will almost certainly put a chill on its use. CRISPR, as a quick reminder, is basically a molecule that cleanly and reliably snips bases out of DNA strands paired w...

Hear BMW’s Dieter May explain the connected car at Disrupt SF 2018

Mobility is undergoing a radical transformation and the topic will be thoroughly examined at Disrupt SF this September. We’re excited to have BMW’s Dieter May speak on the main stage about how the German car company is addressing the connected car while still building, what they say is, the ultimate driving machine. And bonus! May plans to unveil something brand new right on the Main Stage. We can’t share many details on the unveiling, but we can say that it’s certainly worth your attention. May has been at BMW since 2014 when he joined the car company after eight years at Nokia. He currently leads the digital products and services as a Senior Vice President. It’s an interesting position that puts him in the middle of merging consumer technology with the driving experience — and doing it i...

Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Apple’s App Store continues to outpace Google Play on revenue. In the first half of the year, the App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play on half the downloads, according to a new report from Sensor Tower out today. In terms of dollars and cents, that’s $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue on the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play – or, 1.9 times more spent on the App Store compared with what was spent on Google Play. This trend is not new. Apple’s iOS store has consistently generated more revenue than its Android counterpart for years due to a number of factors – including the fact that Android users historically have spent less on apps than iOS users, as well as the fact that there are other Android app stores consumer can shop – like the Amazon A...

Uber’s head of policy for flying taxis and autonomous vehicles leaves for self-driving car startup Voyage

Uber’s head of policy for autonomous vehicles and urban aviation, Justin Erlich, has left the company to join self-driving car startup Voyage, TechCrunch has learned. To lead its policy efforts for autonomous vehicles, Uber recently brought on Miriam Chaum, previously of Philanthropy University. “We wish Justin all the best with his new opportunity at Voyage,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. Erlich’s departure comes a couple of months after Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden, who oversaw Uber Elevate, left the company. At Voyage, Erlich will lead the company’s strategy, policy and legal efforts. Voyage, led by CEO Oliver Cameron, spun out of Udacity last year and has since deployed Level 4 autonomous vehicles in retirement communities in California and Florida. Erlich previously ...

‘Serious concerns’ at FCC threaten to halt Sinclair-Tribune merger

The FCC has been under serious scrutiny by citizens, advocates and politicians alike due to its laissez-faire attitude toward, in particular, the proposed Sinclair Broadcasting merger with Tribune. But the agency is showing some backbone today with a no-nonsense declaration that the merger can’t go through unless a few “serious concerns” are addressed. It’s not the outright disapproval many have recommended, but it’s better than an unconditional green light. In a short memo posted to the agency’s site, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explained that even under his notoriously (or blessedly, depending on your politics) deregulatory regime, the proposed deal is not acceptable as is. Here it is in full: Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transact...

Instapaper is leaving Pinterest, two years after being acquired

Back in August of 2016, Pinterest acquired Instapaper, the read-it-later bookmarking service originally built by Marco Arment. Just shy of two years later, Instapaper is going back to being independent. In a blog post published this afternoon, the team clarifies that a new company called “Instant Paper, Inc.” has been formed to oversee Instapaper, and that it’ll largely be made up of the same folks who’ve worked on it since ~2013. Don’t expect much to change, for better or worse — at least, not immediately. The company is waiting three weeks before officially transferring ownership, in order to “give [its] users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.” The team doesn’t outline the reasoning for splitting away, but it has many users hoping its new...

Apple emoji will soon include people with curly hair, white hair and superpowers

In honor of World Emoji Day (yes, that’s a thing), Apple is previewing some of its upcoming emoji. Later this year, Apple’s emoji set will feature people with a variety of hairstyles and colors, including curly hair, red hair and white hair. What you’re about to see are simply Apple’s take on emoji that were previously approved by the Unicode Consortium’s emoji subcommittee. Folks with curly hair, rejoice! Let’s hear it for the redheads Like white on rice No hair? No problem Other fun emoji include a freezing face, peacock, mango, lobster, nazar amulet, superheroes and kangaroo. Back in March, Apple proposed new emojis to represent people with disabilities in Unicode’s next batch of emoji. Then in May, Unicode announced some of the draft candidates for its next emoji release in Q1 2019 to ...

Google Cloud’s LA region goes online

Google Cloud’s new region in Los Angeles is now online, the company announced today. This isn’t exactly a surprise, given that Google had previously announced a July launch for the region, but it’s a big step for Google, which now boasts five cloud regions in the United States. It was only three years ago that Google opened its second U.S. region and, while it was slow to expand its physical cloud footprint, the company now features 17 regions around the world. When it first announced this new region, Google positioned it as the ideal region for the entertainment industry. And while that’s surely true, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of other companies use this new region, which features three availability zones, to augment their existing deployments in Google’s other West Coast region in Oregon...

When in Rome is the first Alexa-powered board game

Years ago, in the heyday of home video, I played a board games that used VHS tapes and electronic parts to help spur the action along. From Candy Land VCR to Captain Power, game makers were doing the best they could with a new technology. Now, thanks to Alexa, they can try something even cooler — board games that talk back. The first company to try this is Sensible Object. Their new game, When in Rome, is a family board game that pits two teams against each other in a race to travel the world. The game itself consists of a board and a few colored pieces; the real magic comes from Alexa. You start the game by enabling the When in Rome skill, then you start the game. Alexa then prompts you with questions as you tool around the board. The rules are simple because Alexa does most of the work. ...

Kapwing is Adobe for the meme generation

Need to resize a video for IGTV? Add subtitles for Twitter? Throw in sound effects for YouTube? Or collage it with other clips for the Instagram feed? Kapwing lets you do all that and more for free from a mobile browser or website. This scrappy new startup is building the vertical video era’s creative suite full of editing tools for every occasion. Pronounced “Ka-pwing,” like the sound of a ricocheted bullet, the company was founded by two former Google Image Search staffers. Now after six months of quiet bootstrapping, it’s announcing a $1.7 million seed round led by Kleiner Perkins. Kapwing hopes to rapidly adapt to shifting memescape and its fragmented media formats, seizing on opportunities like creators needing to turn their long-form landscape videos vertical for Instagram’s recently...