Author: Brian Heater

Microsoft launches Windows Bounty program, offering awards up to $250,000

TECHCRUNCH Microsoft has been running a bounty program for a few years now, launching it just ahead of the release of Windows 8.1 back in mid-2013. At the time, the company was awarding up to $50,000 for exploits, in an attempt to help address any potential security issues before they could become a larger public concern. It’s a tact taken by a number of tech’s biggest names, like Google, Facebook and, more recently, Apple.  The software giant’s expanding things a bit today, with the simply named “Windows Bounty Program”. It’ll cover a bit more ground in Windows 10, and features...

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August Home raises another $25 million as it expands service partnerships for its smart locks

TECHCRUNCH When August Home raised its last big round nearly two and half years ago, the smart lock maker was targeting retail expansion. That’s still part of the plan for the company’s new $25 million Series C, but the real story of this latest round is increasing focus on its partnership program, August Access.  The service has already made some headway in the rental market, counting Airbnb and vacation rental site HomeAway among its major partners. The smart lock makes a lot of sense for those offerings, giving home owners and landlords the ability to generate temporary access codes...

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iRobot’s CEO defends Roomba home mapping as privacy concerns arise

TECHCRUNCH iRobot CEO Colin Angle has been talking about his company’s plans to map user homes with the Roomba for a while now, but a recently published Reuters interview has raised a number of new privacy concerns. Of particular note is a bit where the executive speculates that the company “could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three [Amazon, Apple, Google] in the next couple of years.” The pushback appear to have caught the company a bit off-guard, surfacing from an interview conducted back in May. iRobot has been perfectly upfront...

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Motorola’s Moto Z gets a 360-degree camera mod

TECHCRUNCH The Moto Z was a surprise hit for Motorola — so much so that the company made the swappable, modular-backed phone its flagship product with the Z2 Play’s arrival last month. But the novel feature has always been hampered by the fact that there just aren’t that many useful Mods. While the company sold “millions” of that first phone, it’s only moved between one and two of the swappable backs for every handset. Today changes the math a bit, with the arrival of the Moto Z2 Force Edition, featuring a shatterproof screen and bigger battery, along with the...

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Samsung’s Unpacked event happens August 23, likely bringing the Galaxy Note 8 with it

TECHCRUNCH Samsung’s next Unpacked event is arriving right on schedule — and all signs about to it bringing the Galaxy Note 8 along for the ride. The big show lines up with the phablet’s traditional release schedule, and the graphic appears to show an Infinity Display version of the Galaxy Note 8, along with the requisite S-Pen. While it’s far from the first big event the company has thrown since the Note 7 proved to be an unmitigated disaster, the big show will be yet another very public trial for the company as it attempt to put those events...

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Apple adds Disney and Pixar characters to Clips

TECHCRUNCH Apple’s super simple video editing app Clips just got its first significant upgrade since launching in April. There are a couple of feature updates in the mix, but the biggest additions are content — including, most notably, a bunch of licensed characters from the Disney/Pixar universes, adding animated overlays and transitions starring familiar faces like Mickey and Woody. Content is one of Clips’ key selling points, along with its simple-to-a-fault UI, and Apple’s promised to continue adding new stuff to the app, in order to keep things fresh. The addition of a bunch of iconic characters from Disney...

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Sears starts selling Alexa-enabled Kenmore appliances on Amazon in bid for relevance

TECHCRUNCH It’s hard to see this move as anything but a temporary reprieve for the once-mighty Sears brand. The mall mainstay has fallen on hard times in recent decades as online retail has taken over — and now, the company is signing on with Amazon to sell its Kenmore brand through one of the key contributors to that on-going downside. While the move feels a bit defeatist, it’s a smart one, at least in the short term — a fact that Wall Street has rewarded, with shares in the 131-year-old company jumping as much as 25-percent in this morning’s...

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MIT is building a system that can identify a recipe using pictures of food

TECHCRUNCH Having mastered the ability to distinguish hot dogs from not hot dogs is truly one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Attempting to one-up that sort of masterstroke would surely be flying too close to the sun — but researchers at MIT are trying nonetheless. The team’s pic2recipe system uses neural networks to determine the recipe of a given food, in an attempt to gain “valuable insight into health habits and dietary preferences,” based on images of food pulled from social media. pic2recipe was built using the Food-101 Data Set, a food-identifying algorithm built by Swiss scientists in 2014, using...

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