apps

Ride-hailing startup Shohoz raises $15M to build the Grab of Bangladesh

Uber may be global but it is very much the alternative in some parts of the world. One such place is Bangladesh — the South Asian country that’s home to 160 million people — where local rival Pathao is backed by Go-Jek and recently raised $10 million. Now Pathao’s closest rival, Shohoz, has also pulled in investment after it closed a $15 million funding round. Shohoz — which means ‘easy’ in Bengali — started in 2014 offering online bus ticket sales before expanding into other tickets like ferries. The startup moved into on-demand services in January when it added motorbikes and then it recently introduced private cars. CEO Maliha Quadir told TechCrunch that it is now registering one million completed rides per month as it bids to “simpl...

Seven reasons not to trust Facebook to play cupid

This week Facebook has launched a major new product play, slotting an algorithmic dating service inside its walled garden as if that’s perfectly normal behavior for an ageing social network. Insert your [dad dancing GIF of choice] right here. Facebook getting into dating looks very much like a mid-life crisis — as a veteran social network desperately seeks a new strategy to stay relevant in an age when app users have largely moved on from social network ‘lifecasting’ to more bounded forms of sharing, via private messaging and/or friend groups inside dedicated messaging and sharing apps. The erstwhile Facebook status update has long been usurped by the Snapchat (and now Instagram) Story as the social currency of choice for younger app users. Of course Facebook owns t...

Instagram denies it’s building Regramming. Here’s why it’d be a disaster

Instagram tells me Regramming, or the ability to instantly repost someone else’s feed post to your followers like a retweet, is “not happening”, not being built, and not being tested. And that’s good news for all Instagrammers. The denial comes after it initially issued a “no comment” to The Verge’s Casey Newton, who published that he’d seen screenshots of a native Instagram resharing sent to him by a source. Regramming would be a fundamental shift in how Instagram works, not necessarily in terms of functionality, but in terms of the accepted norms of what and how to post. You could always screenshot, cite the original creator, and post. But the Instagram has always about sharing your window to the world — what you’ve lived and se...

Audible brings its audiobook library to the Apple Watch

Didn’t get your fill of Amazon news among the 70 or so announcements at today’s Alexa event? Good news, Audible’s got something to add to the deluge. The Amazon-owned audiobook site just announced the availability of its Apple Watch app. The offering brings pretty much what you’d expect. You can listen to audiobooks and manage your library directly from the small screen. It’s a pretty logical next step for the service, given the focus Apple has put on smartwatch audio, between last year’s addition of an LTE version of the watch and the recent announcement of a native podcasting app for the platform. This also goes a ways toward justifying the recent addition of Aaptiv fitness routines, which Audible added a few weeks back. The offering made some sense on the phone, but bringing the course ...

Instagram may divide hashtags from captions to end overhashing

Geofenced sharing, Quiz stickers, Stories Highlight stickers, and a separate interface for adding hashtags to posts are amongst a slew of new features Instagram has prototyped or is now testing. The last one could finally #cure #the #hashtag #madness that’s infected many of Instagram’s 1 billion users, causing them desperately fill up their captions with tagged words that make the feed tough to read in hopes of scoring a few extra views or followers. The pace of iteration at Instagram is staggering, and helping it to leave Snapchat in the dust. With Facebook’s deep pockets funding its product, design, and engineering teams, Instagram is able to keep its app full of fresh toys to play with. Here’s a look at three prototypes, one test, and one confirmed roll out from ...

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. Y...

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. In the Book Store, users can explore recently released titles and best-selling books, as well as curated collections and special o...

Go-Jek plans to raise $2B more for Southeast Asia ride-hailing battle

Indonesia’s Go-Jek is planning to raise $2 billion from investors to fuel its ride-hailing battle with Grab in Southeast Asia. Go-Jek raised $1.5 billion earlier this year from investors that include Chinese trio Tencent, Meituan and JD.com, as well as Google, Allianz and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek. Now it is planning to raise a further $2 billion, two sources with knowledge of details told TechCrunch, as it seeks to expand on numerous fronts. Those plans include both extending the scope of its services in Indonesia — where beyond rides it offers services on demand and financial products — and moving into new markets. The company recently went live in Vietnam, its first expansion, and it has plans to enter Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore this year. Bloomberg...

Mobile social network Path, once a challenger to Facebook, is closing down

It’s that time again, folks, time to say goodbye to a social media service from days past. Following the shuttering of Klout earlier this year, now Path, the one-time rival to Facebook, is closing its doors, according to an announcement made today. (Yes, you may be surprised to learn that Path was still alive.) The eight-year-old service will close down in one month — October 18 — but it will be removed from the App Store and Google Play on October 1. Any remaining users have until October 18 to download a copy of their data, which can be done here. It is with deep regret to announce that Path service will be discontinued. It has been a long journey and we sincerely thank each one of you for your years of love and support Path. Please visit here https://t.co/2MFh5A7C23 fo...

Uber fires up its own traffic estimates to fuel demand beyond cars

If the whole map is red and it’s a short ride, maybe you’d prefer taking an Uber JUMP Bike instead of an UberX. Or at least if you do end up stuck bumper-to-bumper, the warning could make you less likely to get mad mid-ride and take it out on the driver’s rating. This week TechCrunch spotted Uber overlaying blue, yellow, and red traffic condition bars on your route map before you hail. Responding to TechCrunch’s inquiry, Uber confirmed that traffic estimates have been quietly testing for riders on Android over the past few months and the pilot program recently expanded to a subset of iOS users. It’s already live for all drivers. The congestion indicators are based on Uber’s own traffic information pulled from its historic trip data about 10 billion rides...

Facebook rolls out photo/video fact checking so partners can train its AI

Sometimes fake news lives inside of Facebook as photos and videos designed to propel misinformation campaigns, instead of off-site on news articles that can generate their own ad revenue. To combat these politically rather than financially-motivated meddlers, Facebook has to be able to detect fake news inside of images and the audio that accompanies video clips. Today its expanding its photo and video fact checking program from four countries to all 23 of its fact-checking partners in 17 countries. “Many of our third-party fact-checking partners have expertise evaluating photos and videos and are trained in visual verification techniques, such as reverse image searching and analyzing image metadata, like when and where the photo or video was taken” says Facebook product manager...

Airbnb hosts are offering free rooms to people fleeing Hurricane Florence

With Hurricane Florence rapidly approaching the southeastern seaboard, many are leaving the area and seeking accommodation inland. Hopefully people have shelter lined up, but for a handful of those that don’t, Airbnb hosts are offering their spare rooms for free. Well over 300 hosts from Pennsylvania to Alabama are participating in Airbnb’s Disaster Response Program, by which they can easily offer their room or spare unit to people on the run from Mother Nature, free of charge. They don’t get anything out of it except presumably the satisfaction of helping someone in need. The units available are listed here, and you can (and should) activate your own spot by logging in and finding the “urgent accommodation” option. Technically you can opt to charge instead of...