The next Apple Watch will have LTE cell service

Last night an iOS 11 GM download link made its way onto Reddit, which 9to5Mac discovered and has been digging through.

You can check out the full list of discoveries here, but one big thing that stood out is that the next Apple Watch (or at least one version of it) will finally have LTE cell service, meaning it doesn’t need to be tethered to your phone at all times. The leaked screenshot above shows a LTE signal strength indicator in the top left corner of the watch.

The benefits of a cell connection are clear – you could stream music or take a phone call on a run without needing to keep your phone in your pocket.

Interestingly, 9to5Mac says that your LTE Apple Watch will share the same phone number as your existing iPhone. This means that you’ll be able to take calls on either device, and that plans may be less expensive than traditional data-only devices like an iPad.Traditionally carriers assign new phone numbers to devices even if they are only being used for data, like an iPad – so this is a new arrangement for carriers.

 

Lastly, a leaked setup screen from 9to5Mac suggests that the new LTE watch will have a red crown, to differentiate it from the older versions.

Two years ago, when the original Apple Watch launched, Tim Cook was spotted in an Apple Store sporting a version with a red crown. It’s not clear if this means Cook was testing a version of the LTE watch in the wild, or the red dot meant something different at the time.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/09/the-next-apple-watch-will-have-lte-cell-service/

Apple just released iOS 11 beta 10 to developers

Apple is pushing the limits of its beta program as the company just released the tenth beta version of iOS 11. If you have a developer account and want to try out the next version of iOS, you can download the new beta version right now.

iOS 11 is the next major release of the operating system for the iPhone and iPad. Apple first unveiled iOS 11 at its WWDC event back in June 2017. Developers and early adopters have been able to try out the new version for three months.

And the wait is almost over as Apple should release iOS 11 a week after the new iPhone event on September 12. Existing iPhone and iPad owners will be able to update for free.

At this point, beta versions of iOS 11 feel quite stable. I wouldn’t recommend installing iOS 11 on the iPhone you use every day — beta versions of iOS usually drain your battery life. But if you have an iPad and are feeling adventurous, you can install it right now.

 

If you have a developer account and pay $99 per year to access new betas, developer tools and content, you can download iOS 11 beta 10 on Apple’s developer website. If you don’t want to pay $99, Apple now has a public beta program.

The iPad is going to receive the biggest changes in iOS 11. The update turns your iPad into a more capable tablet as you can drag and drop files, app icons and more across the operating system. There’s a system-wide dock, a new app switcher and a Files app so you can launch apps and manage your documents more easily.

If you don’t have an iPad, most of the changes are under the hood, starting with Apple’s augmented reality framework ARKit. Many developers have been working on ARKit-enabled apps, but they’re not in the App Store just yet. There’s also a completely redesigned Control Center with customizable shortcuts. I wrote a preview of the upcoming changes in iOS 11 if you want to learn more.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/apple-just-released-ios-11-beta-10-to-developers/

Pendo acquires Insert to add mobile apps to its user analytics and engagement platform

Pendo helps businesses understand and assist their customers with tools like analytics, polls and walkthroughs. Until now, however, CEO Todd Olson said the company has been focused on the web (both desktop and mobile), with just a single mobile developer on the team.

“We as a team constantly had a lot of internal debates about how much to invest in [mobile],” he said. “If you want to do it, you have to really invest in it.”

That’s why the company has made its first acquisition — it’s buying Insert, a mobile marketing startup based in Israel. Olson told me that he connected with Insert through Battery Ventures, which backed both companies, and he saw their product as doing “essentially what we do, but for mobile devices.”

There are some differences, he acknowledged, since Insert is more focused on mobile messaging and less on analytics. But in Olson’s view, the Insert team has already done “all the hard work” of creating a platform that marketers and product designers can use, and integrating that product with native mobile apps.

“The key is doing it without developers,” he said. So with Insert, Pendo can build a platform that allows teams to engage with customers and improve their product across devices, and to do so without developer assistance: “The vision is to combine the products into one simple platform.”

 

Pendo recently raised a $25 million Series C, partly to fund acquisitions and international expansion — it looks like the Insert deal covers both. (Insert’s Tel Aviv office will also become Pendo’s first international location.) Insert, meanwhile, raised a $10 million round from Battery last year.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Olson said the combined companies have a headcount of 145 employees.

“With Insert, Pendo acquires a team that shares its passion for great product experiences,” said Insert founder and CEO Shahar Kaminitz in the acquisition announcement. “This combined platform allows product teams to better understand mobile users and deliver personalized experiences on the right mobile moments, when users are likely to get the best value.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/07/pendo-acquires-insert/

VR company Upload settles sexual harassment suit, though some still feel unsettled

Upload, formerly UploadVR, the virtual reality startup at the center of a sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit filed earlier this year, has settled the case with its former employee and is aiming to put the ensuing damage behind it.

The lawsuit, filed against the startup and its co-founders by former director of digital and social media Elizabeth Scott, alleged that the company had sought to create a “boy’s club” environment and described “rampant” sexual behavior in the office, allegations that co-founders Will Mason and Taylor Freeman denied as “entirely without merit.”

The lawsuit is now over, according to people familiar with the matter, and though the terms of the agreement were undisclosed, some in the virtual reality community feel that the company has dodged a bullet in reaching some conclusion over the litigation.

“The matter has been concluded,” was Upload’s official statement. Neither Scott, nor her legal counsel, responded to a request for comment for this story. Upload has also released the following statement around the conclusion of the legal case.

“Our primary focus at Upload is education, which we believe is the key to growing the mixed reality ecosystem. We are deeply committed to creating an inclusive community to empower the pioneers building the future.”

The Upload allegations came at the beginning of a tumultuous summer for technology companies as women (inspired, perhaps, by Susan Fowler’s courageous exposure of harassment at Uber) came forward with stories of inappropriate behavior from venture investors and executives.

In Upload’s case, some former employees wonder whether the company has failed to show real changes have been made in the aftermath of the suit.

“From the other cases that happened along the same lines, either with Uber or 500 Startups, something happened with the people that did those things. They stepped down or publicly apologized or they put processes in place or they got HR or they did something,” one former employee told us. “[Upload’s co-founders] said one little quote and then they dragged a settlement case out for long enough that it wasn’t even news anymore.”

When news of the sexual harassment lawsuit broke in early May, Upload employees were waiting to see what the response of the startup’s co-founders would be to some of their former co-worker’s allegations. When Taylor Freeman and Will Mason denied the merit of all of Scott’s allegations in their official statement, four full-time Upload staffers immediately quit.

What followed were days of “radio silence” from the company’s leadership regarding the scandal, former employees told us, and then suddenly an email asking team members not to talk to the press while they “resolve outstanding issues.” According to people familiar with the company’s thinking, the silence was due to ongoing legal discussions, which kept the founders from discussing the matter publicly.

“When we reflect back on our short history, like any startup, there are things we should have done differently,” Freeman wrote to the startup’s members in an email, obtained by TechCrunch. “But we are also very proud of what we have accomplished, and remain tremendously excited about our future.”

Freeman and Mason faced internal calls to step down following the controversy, sources tell us.

In the weeks following the scandal, key investors distanced themselves from the company and its initial plans to raise a VR/AR-focused venture fund. SEC documents and a since-deleted company web page confirm the startup was looking to raise a $12 million early stage fund for launch in Q3 of this year.

“The decision to put Upload Ventures, which was in its infancy, on hold was a mutual one reached with our partners in order for us to focus more on our core business units in the short term,” an Upload company spokesperson wrote in a statement.

In the months since, the company has looked to move on from the harassment scandal that has engulfed it by hiring new leadership to tackle education and community-building efforts at the company’s SF and LA offices.

 

Anne Ahola Ward, the chief executive of Circle Click, has stepped in as the company’s new chief operating officer. The company has also brought in Jacquelyn Morie to head up the company’s education efforts.

We received a copy of a blog post that Ward, the company’s incoming COO, posted to the internal Upload site, which attempts to address the aftermath of the lawsuit.

I wholeheartedly support and believe in the company’s mission: to educate and accelerate the mixed reality ecosystem. Being a member of this community has been amazing, it has meant so much to me and I look forward to getting to know even more amazing people!

In the near term, I will be focusing on the following initiatives:

  • Building out our infrastructure to support the meteoric growth of the organization
  • Give back to the community who has been so good to us by performing outreach and a scholarship program for education
  • Work together with the mixed reality community to foster stronger communication and growth of the startups that work with us

Above all else I want to make it clear that Upload is a place where everyone is welcome. Everyone. We will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, disability or sexual orientation. Now is the perfect time to come together and find a way to help each other grow the AR/VR/XR ecosystems.

Meanwhile, the company also hired Morie, a former Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Creative Technologies, who has been working in and around virtual worlds almost since the industry’s inception. She spent 13 years at ICT before launching her own company, All These Worlds, to commercialize her work in virtual and augmented reality.

Morie is aware of the company’s recent history and troubles, but insists that Upload is ready, willing and able to move on.

“You can’t judge an entire company on one incident. Whatever that happens to be… unless it is so egregious that the company can’t get beyond it. I don’t think that’s what’s happening here,” Morie told TechCrunch. “I believe that this is a learning opportunity. They will take something that wasn’t working and would try to make it right. If I thought they were not going to address it or deal with and were trying to sweep it under the rug, I wouldn’t be there.”

Not everyone in the industry is convinced that the company has done enough to address the allegations surrounding it or create a safe space for female entrepreneurs in the VR industry.

“I do think they are good guys at heart, but I think they were immature and they… fucked up,” one former employee said of the company’s founders.

With Scott’s lawsuit finished, Upload does still have a community to reassure.

One female founder, who had previously worked with Upload, hopes that women in the VR industry can move to create systems that enable women to talk about their experiences with sexual harassment.

“There’s no safety network for women to speak up,” she said. Asked if Upload should be the one tackling that problem, the founder said that there would likely be “severe trust issues” with such an initiative. “Maybe Upload’s culture changed, but they didn’t even apologize or give an explanation on what they stand for, and that’s a problem because you don’t want to be associated with people who are in a scandal like this without an explanation,” she said.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/vr-company-upload-settles-sexual-harassment-suit-though-some-still-feel-unsettled/

23andMe hits $1.5B pre-money valuation in latest huge funding round

Following up on the news of 23andMe’s huge upcoming financing round, TechCrunch has learned that the company is raising the new financing at a $1.5 billion pre-money valuation. This compares to a $1 billion valuation in its last private round. 

Dan Primack over at Axios reported the same thing this morning, but we’ve heard from our sources the number is indeed accurate. TechCrunch first reported that 23andMe is raising around $200 million in a new financing round led by Sequoia, with Fidelity also looking to participate. 23andMe, an 11-year-old startup (if we can call it that at this point), now looks like it will continue to run as a private company for some time.

The timing makes more sense given that 23andMe seems to have successfully navigated a complex web of regulations and finally gotten the green light to operate in full. The Food and Drug Administration ordered the company to cease sales of its personal genomics test back in 2013. The FDA gave a long-awaited blessing in April this year to go ahead and provide customers with a risk analysis for 10 genetically linked diseases.

That, along with Ancestry.com announcing it filed confidentially for an IPO in June this year, may have emboldened investors to take another big bet on CEO Ann Wojcicki and 23andMe — which had largely leaned on its research and development efforts

 

23andMe has raised more than $230 million going all the way back to 2007, well before the last generation of massive high-profile consumer IPOs like Twitter and Facebook. It includes previous investors like Google, Genentech, NEA and Johnson & Johnson, and now appears to be enlisting another storied firm in Silicon Valley.

23andMe didn’t comment on questions about the valuation after we reached out.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/23andme-hits-1-5b-pre-money-valuation-in-latest-huge-funding-round/

Tenka Labs raises another $2M to get its kids LEGO engineering kits in retailers

Tenka Labs co-founder John Schuster is no stranger to walking friends through building gadgets using Arduino, an open-source hardware controller — except they might be great software engineers, but not understand the actual circuitry.

But Tenka Labs, which builds simple kits that help young students create small gadgets with the use of motors and other bits that connect to legos, is looking to be an even more basic starting point to understanding engineering. Instead of jumping straight into designing a circuit, Tenka Labs makes what are called Circuit Cubes — kits that include lights or motors — that plug into Legos to teach the true basics of engineering. The company said that it has raised an additional $2 million in seed funding, and is also launching in several retailers for the holiday season.

“Before they go onto designing circuits, we need to get them to understand the basics,” co-founder Nate MacDonald said. “When they can see and understand it, they’re more comfortable to invent. They understand that the wires are making that motor go, and then they can create things like an electric toothbrush. The stores recognize parents are looking for an educational toy. You can see it online, and there’s a wave happening where schools are starting to have maker spaces. They’re changing woodworking shops into engineering labs.”

Because the company is essentially producing a toy, getting into retailers is ahead of the holiday season is going to be key. That’s especially true for toys like Circuit Cubes, which are primed to be potential gifts from parents or relatives looking to get kids interested in engineering. That can then kick off the virtuous cycle: kids enjoy it; the parents, teachers, and friends notice it; and then more and more families start buying it.

Starting off from such a very basic point is one way to get those kids excited about engineering, and get them up to speed, Schuster says. The blocks plug and play: you stick Legos on top of it to build anything from a fully operational medieval castle, which Schuster saw at a camp over the summer, to a part of a doll house. “There’s electronic, physical, mechanical, but they don’t even now that — they just know they’ve made their tank or their ceiling light,” Schuster said.

 

“There are electronic, physical, and mechanical parts, but they don’t even realize that — they just know they’ve made their tank or their ceiling light,” Schuster said.

Tenka Labs, which says it is launching in Target, Micro Center, Barnes & Noble (which still exists, apparently), Amazon, and MoMA stores, will certainly face uphill battles. It’s going to have to continue engaging kids and parents, hopefully tapping that same desire that would encourage them to go to Radio Shack and pick up a proto board and motor. It can do that by adding new blocks down the line, but also at some point contend with the idea that the students may be more attracted to littleBits (or graduate into them).

The key question for the company — and one that it naturally got from many investors — is whether it will actually be able to spin up the kind of manufacturing it needs in order to get those toys into stores. Schuster spent more than a month abroad to try to figure out the manufacturing, and the company also soft launched it with a program called Steve & Kate’s Summer Camp to gauge demand. One of the children there actually created a sort of pinwheel with the light kit that displayed a stop-motion video of a running horse, which emboldened Schuster and MacDonald even more as they looked to pique the curiosity of kids.

“We know there were good products but there was nothing fun and playful,” Schuster said. “That’s why we’re here, we’re filling a niche that had a need. These were the three favorite things they wanted to do. They wanted to make flashlights, battle their cars together and make this weird artwork. You can imagine your mom saying, grab me the flashlight, the kid says I’ll make you one. They go on the adventure, we’re not gonna script what they build and create.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/tenka-labs-raises-another-2m-to-get-its-kids-lego-engineering-kits-in-retailers/

Axonius wants to help businesses manage all of their devices; raises $4M seed round

Axonius wants to help enterprises manage their fast-growing number of mobile, compute and IoT devices that now use their networks and in the cloud. The idea here is to provide these companies with a single platform that allows them to see which devices are active on their networks and control them. This, in turn, enables enterprises to plug potential security holes. Any uncontrolled device on a network is, after all, a potential gateway for hackers.

To do this, the Tel Aviv-based company has raised a $4 million seed round from YL Ventures, with participation from Vertex Ventures and Emerge Capital.

“We are experiencing a Cambrian-like explosion on our networks,” said YL Ventures managing partner Yoav Leitersdorf. “Mobility, cloud and IoT are creating a near exponential increase in the types and numbers of user, compute and new devices connecting to enterprise networks. With this explosion comes the inherent cyber risk associated with the lack of visibility, security and control.”

While Axonius itself can be quickly deployed on any network, devices need to be integrated through its adapter API and plug-in framework. “Existing solutions will be integrated into Axonius through [the] API. However, Axonius can also see other devices on the network, by utilizing devices that are already connected to it,” Leitersdorf told me. “Part of the genius of Axonius is that it turns any connected machine into a sensor onto itself that can see any device in the network by sniffing network traffic.”

 

Virtually all enterprises already use endpoint managers and other visibility tools to solve some of the same issues that Axonius is trying to solve. The company, however, argues that it can integrate with all of these existing tools and provide its users a single view into their existing solutions. Ideally, that means security and IT teams will be able to quickly react to potential issues and get a full overview of what’s happening on their networks.

Now out of stealth mode, Axonius is currently in limited availability, with plans for a general release in early 2018.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/axonius-wants-to-help-businesses-manage-all-of-their-devices-raises-4m-seed-round/

Dataiku to enhance data tools with $28 million investment led by Battery Ventures

Dataiku, a French startup that helps data analysts communicate with data scientists to build more meaningful data applications, announced a significant funding round today.

The company scored a $28 million Series B investment led by Battery Ventures with help from FirstMark, Serena Capital and Alven. Today’s money brings the total raised to almost $45 million. Its most recent prior round was a $14 million Series A in October 2016.

Dataiku has developed Dataiku Data Science Studio (DSS), which CEO Florian Douetteau says has been designed to solve communications problems between data analysts and data scientists.

“It’s a platform for working together. Data analysts can click around the data while applying machine learning, and data scientists can code and do whatever they want to do to extend the work of analysts,” Douetteau told TechCrunch.

“Data science is no longer a niche subsector of analytics like it was 20 years ago,” Neeraj Agrawal, general partner at investor Battery Ventures said in a statement. “The DSS product enables technical data scientists to work alongside data analysts to help build and deploy models into production. We feel that a platform that allows users of different skill sets to work together is the future of data science products,” he added.

Dataiku Data Science Studio. Photo: Dataiku

 

Douetteau says the platform is more than just an extension of business intelligence tools we’ve been seeing since the 1990s. His company is enabling the analysts to work on the data in much more sophisticated ways, while collaborating with more technical people in the same interface. As an example, he says that one of the big use cases is media buying.

Say for example that your company wanted to buy ads in Northern Ireland. You could use DSS to find ad data to determine the best time of day to run your ads. You could then find the perfect medium for your ad buy, whether that’s radio, TV, print, online or some combination. The data analysts can manipulate the ad data to the extent that they can, then work with more technical folks to go deeper and generate results that go beyond the analyst level of expertise.

The company, which has a 100 employees, plans to double that number in the in the next few months. That expansion will touch every department including helping customers with deployment and further building out the platform to add more features.

“We want to be the universal platform for data science where you can do anything you imagine for advanced data analytics,” Douetteau said.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/dataiku-to-enhance-data-tools-with-28-million-infusion-led-by-battery-ventures/

Straight outta Siberia inDriver raises $5M for its flat-rate ride-hailing app

You’d think all the business models around on-demand taxis and cars had been invested, but straight out of Siberia comes another one.

Ride-hailing app inDriver has raised a $5 million Series A round from Russian venture fund LETA Capital. They aim to use this cash to launch inDriver in India, the USA and Canada, where the service will of course compete with Uber, Lyft and Ola Cab.

How on earth will they attempt this, rather optimistic, feat? Well, for starters, drivers themselves pay for to access the app, rather than the app’s operation effectively being subsidised by venture capital, as the other are. Next, inDriver is a decentralized, bid-style service, where the passenger enters the price he or she is willing to pay, while the driver accepts the order only upon agreement of the fare. inDriver does not influence price formation and doesn’t take a commission from drivers. All drivers do is simply pay by the hour to use the app, at a flat rate. A passenger can pay either with cash, or with credit card, but payment happens only directly between driver and rider.

The service’s simplicity means it has expanded to 70 cities in Russia and neighbouring markets. It claims to have about 7 million installations across iOS, Android and Windows Phones. Each month inDriver’s users make around 4-5 million trips, and the total number of trips is close to 100 million, they claim. inDriver also offers the option to travel between cities, much like BlaBlaCar.

 

The inDriver service was created in Yakutsk – a small town in Siberia. Their story goes that during a freezing winter day on Christmas Eve, when the temperature fell to -49°F, all the local taxi services simultaneously doubled their prices. To fight this, some students formed a public group on the VK.com social network (a clone of Facebook), where anyone could submit an application for a ride, and those who owned cars could accept their calls for help. After a year the group had 50,000 subscribers. Later, Yakutian tech entrepreneur Arsen Tomskiy “bought” the group from its creators (only in Russia could you buy a VK group…) , releasing a mobile app based on the group. QED.

inDriver says its has been profitable from its first year of existence, because the company does not subsidize its drivers, like Uber does. When the app is launched in a new city, it is free for all drivers for the first several months, and later the company adds a subscription fee to access the order database. In Russia, depending on the city, the price can vary from $0.50 to $2 per hour. Pretty competitive.

CEO Arsen Tomskiy said they chose LETA Capital because it “already has the experience of successful international exits from companies’ portfolios, including the recent sale of a stake in the Unomy start-up to the international giant WeWork.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/07/straight-outta-siberia-indriver-raises-5m-for-its-flat-rate-ride-hailing-app/

BandLab Technologies acquires Chew.tv, a video streaming service for DJs

Chew.tv, a video streaming service for DJs to show off their mixing skills, has been acquired by BandLab Technologies, the Singapore-based ‘social’ music-making platform. Terms of the deal are undisclosed, though it was widely known that Chew.tv, which has been described as ‘Twitch for DJs,’ had been struggling financially over the last six months.

Originally a graduate of accelerator Ignite, Chew.tv launched in 2015 as an online community for aspiring and professional DJs, with an emphasis on live video. The premise being that dance music DJs are both content consumers and creators, and that Chew.tv could serve both needs, allowing DJs at different levels to learn from and be inspired by each other — not entirely dissimilar to online gamers.

That appeared to find some traction, seeing Chew garner an undoubtedly loyal and passionate user base. In July, it disclosed that the service had a community of 380,000+ users, who, since launch, have collectively created over 120,000 hours of content.

With that said, Chew.tv narrowly avoided the deadpool earlier this year after its streaming infrastructure was “heavily misused” by a nefarious hacker the previous December. “The abuse cost is more than we can afford, and the combined total of that and our regular running costs is enough to put us out of business,” the company emailed users in March.

However, in a nice turn of events, Chew’s community rallied together under the #savedchew hashtag, and via £12,000 in donations and an increase in premium subscriptions, the service was saved and the startup, which was down to a single staff member in co-founder Will Benton, lived to fight another day. Which brings us to today’s acquisition.

 

I’m told that BandLab has acquired all technology & IP of the Chew platform. “We’re not disclosing dollar amounts for the deal. This was a privately funded deal – we worked to find a fair price that both parties were happy with,” says a BandLab spokesperson.

Meanwhile, BandLab Technologies says Chew.tv will be rebranded as “Chew by BandLab”. In addition, the startup’s live streaming technology will be integrated into BandLab’s web platform, Android and iOS apps “for use by BandLab’s existing user base of close to 2 million users”.

“I am very pleased that Chew will now be supported by the BandLab team. For the past two years I’ve been closely watching the growth and development of this great platform and community of DJs,” said Meng Ru Kuok, BandLab CEO and co-founder, in a statement. “One of the most important parts of being a musician today is performing live, and as an extension of that, it’s extremely important for us to be able to digitally support creators and musicians who want to bring their live performances to the world”.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/06/bandlab%e2%80%8b-%e2%80%8btechnologies%e2%80%8b-acquires-chew-tv/