Author: Brian Heater

Smartwatches need to distinguish themselves with software as well as hardware

TECHCRUNCH If I had to give companies looking to enter the smartwatch space in 2017 one piece of advice, it would be, simply: don’t. Failing point one, due to investor pressure or the spirit of a long dead financial partner’s ghost visiting you in the night, seriously consider building your own operating system for the thing. It sounds like a few extra steps and a whole lot of trouble, but with Android Wear 2.0 out in the wild for a couple of months now, I’m finding it hard to come up with compelling reasons to get on board with...

Read More

As Chromebook sales soar in schools, Apple and Microsoft fight back

TECHCRUNCH Few saw the Chromebook coming. When it launched half a decade ago, the category was broadly maligned for its limited feature set, middling hardware specs and operation that required an always-on internet connection to work properly. But things change in five years. In 2015, the category overtook MacBooks in the U.S. for the first time ever, selling around two million units in Q1. It’s a pretty astonishing number for a product many pundits deemed doomed in its early stages. And that victory has been largely fueled by the K-12 education market. Recent numbers from consulting firm Futuresource paint a similar...

Read More

Amazon’s camera-equipped Echo Look raises new questions about smart home privacy

TECHCRUNCH Given all of the security concerns raised by the rise of the Echo and other smart home hubs, Amazon surely knew that adding a camera to one of its devices was going to reinvigorate the privacy debate. After all, an always-listening microphone is one thing – the Echo Look, with a camera designed to sit in its owner’s bedroom, is another question entirely. It should be noted that introducing any device of this sort into your sleeping quarters presents an inherent privacy risk to some degree. Those people who put blue electrical tape over their laptop’s webcams aren’t...

Read More

Anki brings ‘Fast & Furious’ branding to its Overdrive line of smart toy cars

TECHCRUNCH Before its adorable little robot Cozmo arrived on the scene, Anki was in the business of making smart toy cars. The hardware startup’s robotic race car line Overdrive is getting a pretty high profile promotional boost in the form one of the most profitable franchises in film history. In September, the company will be launching Anki Overdrive: Fast & Furious Edition, a racing kit based on the film series. The deal echoes the serendipitous team up between Disney and Sphero that brought the world the wildly popular BB-8 toy — though the Fast & Furious franchise doesn’t have quite...

Read More

Amazon’s new Echo Look has a built-in camera for style selfies

TECHCRUNCH With the addition of a camera, Amazon’s new Echo Look device can now see and hear all. The device is a sort of standalone selfie machine so users can take full-length photos and videos of themselves specifically for the sake of checking their fashion choices in the morning. The new home assistant answers to commands like “Alexa, take a picture” and “Alexa, take a video” – for the latter, users spin around accordingly to get shot from all side. At the very least, it’ll let you make sure no one’s adhered a Kick Me sign to your back...

Read More

The Galaxy S8 handily topped its predecessor’s pre-order numbers, according to Samsung

TECHCRUNCH The Galaxy S8 is experience is something of a mixed bag – but it’s certainly not a bomb. As ever, Samsung isn’t giving out exact numbers, but the company is happily reporting that the new flagship has seen a 30-percent increase in pre-orders over its predecessor, here in the States. The new sales figures technically account for two separate handsets – the S8 and S8+ – but the jump is being put up against the combined sales of the S7 and S7 Edge before it, which makes for a fair comparison. And when combined with a record one million...

Read More

Is Spotify working on a wearable?

TECHCRUNCH Spotify is said to be exploring the launch of branded wearable, according to rumors floated by a “trusted source” at Zatz Not Funny. There’s little information out there at this early stage, though a job listing posted by the company does lend some validity to the project. Based at the streaming service’s global headquarters in Stockholm, the position involves, among other things, “leading an initiative to deliver hardware directly from Spotify to existing and new customers; a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles.” The products listed offer some insight into what a...

Read More

MakerBot’s technology of the future grapples with its rocky past

TECHCRUNCH Seated in a chair a few feet away, you still have to strain to hear Nadav Goshen speak. He’s quiet, but thoughtful. And, from the looks of it, slightly nervous. It’s clear that the serial executive isn’t used to the spotlight as he sits down for his first interview since being appointed the CEO of one-time 3D printing savior MakerBot back in January. Goshen has a small stack of papers sitting on a table beside him, should he need to consult any notes. He never actually looks over, however. After months of behind the scenes meetings, he’s got the company’s new line down, pat. His voice rarely raises above a whisper during our conversation, but he speaks thoughtfully and pragmatically. He speaks of a company that’s humbled. One that has learned from its mistakes. After a few minutes, it’s impossible to miss the stark contrast with Bre Pettis, the mutton-chopped, co-founder whose bespectacled face became as synonymous with the company as any mascot or logo. He was a one-man manifestation of the MakerBot spirit, and by extension the desktop 3D printer revolution. He held a Replicator printer aloft on the October 2012 cover of Wired, flanked by the bright orange words “This Machine Will Change the World.” He yucked it up with Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central, before sending a 3D printed bust of the blustery faux right...

Read More