Apple iMac Pro Continues Its Momentum

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | | 0 comments »

iMac Pro
When Apple's new iMac Pro was unveiled this summer, two things were clear: It was a beast, and it was expensive.

With the space-gray iMac Pro finally launched, the new computer lives up to both of these expectations. Capable of sporting up to 18 cores and 22 teraflops of graphics performance, the iMac starts at a whopping US$ 4,999.

Maintaining the iMac's all-in-one design, the iMac Pro is the first iMac that comes in Apple's popular space-gray finish. Despite its sleek design, Apple was able to pack the iMac Pro with powerful workstation performance.

For US$ 4,999, customers will get a 3.2 GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.2 GHz, 32 GB of ECC (error-correcting code) memory, a 1 TB solid-state drive, and more. But the greatest technological marvel in the iMac is probably its new thermal architecture, which delivers 80% more cooling capacity in the same quiet and thin design the iMac is known for.

Beyond its complex tech specifications, Apple sums up the new iMac Pro in its press release:

"With next-generation processors, a stunning Retina 5K display, the most powerful graphics ever in a Mac, super-fast storage and advanced I/O [input/output], iMac Pro is designed to handle the most demanding pro workflows and is the first all-in-one built from the ground up to deliver true workstation-class performance."
Maxing out the iMac Pro will set customers back more than US$ 13,000.

While most of investors' attention on Apple gravitates toward iPhones, Apple's Mac business is firing on all cylinders. Mac revenue, for instance, hit an all-time high in fiscal 2017, at US$ 25.8 billion. This makes Mac Apple's third-largest segment, behind iPhone and services, and ahead of iPad and "other products."

Furthermore, iMac revenue growth has accelerated recently, climbing 25 percent year over year in Apple's fourth quarter of fiscal 2017 -- the segment's highest growth rate in years.

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Helpster Raises Additional Funds

Posted by Kirhat | Tuesday, January 09, 2018 | | 0 comments »

Helpster may be only a two-year-old startup that connects blue-collar workers with employers in Southeast Asia, but it already was able to attract closed to US$ 2.5 million in additional funding.

The startup operates in Thailand and Indonesia with around 50 staff split between Bangkok and Jakarta. It aims to disrupt the temporary worker industry, which is dominated by giants like Adecco and Manpower, by vetting its workers closely and using technology - principally its mobile app - to improve the temp worker-employer relationship.

The company estimates that 40 percent of the 100 million semi-skilled workers across Southeast Asia take casual work.

The Helpster approach lets workers choose their own schedule and types of jobs via the app, which will automatically offer them gigs around their specified times. Financially, they keep their full wage since it charges clients separately rather than taking a cut of their salary. Workers can also accrue bonuses and earn health insurance and social security when they work for certain numbers of days.

For employers, aside from vetted staff, the focus is on simplicity. Helpster handles hiring, allocating work, employee attendance and payment in one place.

"We really want to differentiate ourself from portal or job app," CEO and co-founder Matthew Ward told TechCrunch in an interview. "We screen and vet all the workers and do background checks."

Larger clients aside, Ward said Helpster brings the traditional recruitment consultant model to SMEs, which traditional players "won’t touch" because of the lower revenue on offer.

Helpster has served over 500 clients mostly in the F&B and hospitality industries, although it also has ongoing clients in warehousing, logistics and more, Ward said.

This new funding is a pre-Series A round that sees existing investors including Convergence Ventures and Wavemaker Partners return with additional backing. Mojo Partners, a Singapore-based fund founded by the billionaire family behind Hotel Properties, is a new arrival that co-led the round. The startup previously raised $2.5 million in November 2016.

Ward said the new money will be used to double down on technology, in particular to help improve machine learning and data services that glean information about worker reliability and best fits between workers and clients.

Helpster isn't planning to expand to other parts in Southeast Asia, which now has over 300 million internet users, but, according to Ward, it might launch in new cities inside Thailand and Indonesia. Hotel-centric locations like Bali and Phuket could be on the list for next year.

"We want to make sure we really gain strong marketshare in the two countries we're in first," he explained.

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Apple Claimed It Fixed HomeKit Vulnerability

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, December 21, 2017 | | 0 comments »

HomeKit Vulnerability
Apple has released a statement saying that it has issued a fix for an iOS security flaw that left key connect home hardware open to unauthorized third-party access. The bug, which was initially spotted by 9to5Mac, reportedly made it possible for an outside party to access things like smart locks and garage doors.

The company has since confirmed the existence of the bug with TechCrunch. "The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. "The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week."

According to TechCrunch, the fix appears to be server side update, meaning that the end-user doesn't have to update anything for it to take effect. For the time being, it also means that users with 11.2 wont have all of the standard remote HomeKit functionality, until Apple rolls out something more permanent next week. Getting that functionality back will require updating to the latest version of iOS.

The initial report doesn't detail the specifics of the exploit in its post, only noting that, "The vulnerability required at least one iPhone or iPad on iOS 11.2, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, connected to the HomeKit user's iCloud account." It appears to be a difficult one to replicate and doesn't impact earlier builds of the operating system. But it may highlight concerns around smart home functionality, as users connecting more pieces of their home to an ecosystem like HomeKit, Assistant or Alexa.

Bugs are part of any software solution, and Apple's rushed to fix a couple of prominent ones on macOS and iOS in recent weeks. Like those, the company's patched things up here with, hopefully, minimal inconvenience to the end user. But as always, it’s important to make a cost benefit analysis of a connected home offering to decide if it’s the right fit.

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French Mobile Payment App Has Apple Pay Support

Posted by Kirhat | Tuesday, December 19, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Lydia Mobile App
There is a peer-to-peer payment app that works very similar to Venmo from startup Lydia in France which now works with Apple Pay (a feature originally announced in July). This means it is now possible to spend balance from the app wherever MasterCard and Apple Pay are accepted.

It's a neat use of Apple Pay to make it possible to do mobile payments without requiring that a users have a credit card – and it can work for users who have an existing physical Lydia MasterCard, which the startup launched last year to make it possible for users to quickly pay with their balance without having to wait for inbound funds to pass the SEPA transfer process.

Users of the app can either add their physical Lydia MasterCard the way you would any other credit card in the Apple Pay settings, but if they haven't got a card they can also generate a virtual one via the Lydia app itself to provide them with a card number to use of verification during the setup process.

Apple also set live its Apple Pay Cash feature for users in the U.S., which allows users to transfer payments to each other instead of just transact with businesses and merchants. It's not yet available in other countries, as of yet, but Lydia's implementation of Apple Pay is an interesting alternative that takes peer-to-peer payments and makes them much more flexible in terms of broader mobile commerce use

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Google Launches Lightweight OS Android Go

Posted by Kirhat | Monday, December 18, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Lightweight Android Go
After announcing Android Go back at I/O last May, Google's made a number of tweaks since. The lightweight version is finally ready to launch, albeit with a slightly altered name.

The OS is launching with the release of Android 8.1, now carrying the decidedly less catchy Android Oreo (Go edition) title.

As per the new name, the Go version isn’t an altogether different operating system than the primary version of Android. In fact, in a number of ways, the software types are likely indistinguishable, and Google's devoting a team to assuring that the Go edition gets updated and released on more or less the same schedule as its standard counterpart.

Google made the announcement this evening at an event in India — a major potential market for the new version of the OS. As the company notes in a recent blog post, there are currently more Android users in India than the U.S., making it a huge market, along with other developing countries. A number of companies like Mozilla and Nokia have worked to address a rapidly expanding audience in these areas, but none are better positioned than Google.

With more than two billion activated Android devices in the world, the mobile operating system already has a strong footprint. Go Edition is an attempt to give users the best possible Android experience, in spite of hardware limitations. The Oreo configuration is designed specifically for devices with between 512MB and 1GB of RAM.

According to Google, that comes with all sorts of benefits for the end user, including 30 percent faster startup time and an optimization of storage space, by up to 2x. The latter is accomplished, in part, by the inclusion of a number of optimized Go apps. It’s a pretty long list, including Google Go, Google Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, Gboard, Chrome and Files Go, a new file management app. There’s also a Go version of the Play store, which specializes in lightweight apps.

All in all, the changes are relatively minimal. There are a few key things, including recent previews and multi-users settings, but it ultimately shouldn’t be too major a step down from the full Android, for the most part.

Google's also not limiting availability of the software to any specific region. Go edition will be available globally starting now. Compatible devices should start shipping early next year.

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Podcast Startup Acquired by Apple

Posted by Kirhat | Friday, December 15, 2017 | | 0 comments »

After Apple's podcast marketshare appeared to have been eroded somewhat as players like Google and Spotify have entered the market, reportedly down from 70-percent of podcast downloads in 2015 to 55-percent in 2017, the company may well be planting its flag in the sand.

A few days ago, the Hot Pod newsletter reported that the company had picked up a small Bay Area-based startup called Pop Up Archive in what appears to the be an effort to build up its in-house podcasting tools.

The company offered TechCrunch a followup, noting, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

As for what those plans are, keeping Pop Up Archive operating as is doesn’t appear to be on the list. The startup abruptly closed up shop late last month, a day after posting message on Twitter asking users to download all of their content before then.

Many would have likely not heard of the company, unless this is a world they follow closely. Pop Up Archive was founded back in 2012 and has remained pretty small since then. TechCrunch first caught wind of it back in 2014, when it appeared at the 500 Startups Demo Day. At the time, the company was demonstrating a tool that tags audio usually transcribed textual data. A user uploads a podcast and it offers tags.

Sounds like a small thing, but it's a potentially important one when dealing with long audio files. iTunes and the iPhone Podcast app could greatly benefit from additional contextual search. It would go a long way toward finding and recommending content via the service.

At the moment, Apple's recommendations are limited to similar shows. Pop Archive also maintained Audiosearch, a podcast search engine that also closed up shop on 28 November.

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