Author: Lucas Matney

Skydio’s autonomous drone lands in Apple retail stores, now supports Watch controls

TECHCRUNCH With a few taps, you can now direct Skydio‘s $1,999 autonomous drone from your Apple Watch allowing you to fulfill the geeky dream you never knew you had, directing an expensive autonomous drone with your little wrist computer. The very cool R1 self-flying drone will also be going up for sale in US Apple Stores, a big win for the young drone startup which has only been taking orders via its own website. Apple doesn’t have a very robust selection of drones either, with most of their selection coming from drone giant DJI, putting Skydio in some pretty elite company. Now, let’s get back to the real question here. Why on earth would you need to control a drone from your Apple Watch? Well, it’s certainly a valid question. The Apple Watch launched with a ton of third-party apps and one-by-one they kind of seemed to drop off as developers — and Apple — learned that the device is generally at its best when it’s part of a passive experience. Skydio sort of bills the R1 as a drone built for the GoPro crowd, delivering a very unique type of footage but ultimately one that can be self-controlled. Navigating the Skydio app on your phone always takes you out of action for a bit and makes it so that you staring at your phone is always the first part...

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Disney-backed Jaunt lays off ‘significant’ number of employees as it moves away from VR

TECHCRUNCH One of the top-funded VR content startups with backers including Disney and GV (Google Ventures) is laying off a “significant portion” of its employees as it pivots away from virtual reality. In a blog post titled “The Future of Jaunt is AR,” the formerly VR-focused company announced it was leaving much of its VR business behind and shifting towards AR tech, laying off many of its employees in the process. We will be winding down a number of VR products and content services in the coming weeks. We will work with our current clients to deliver our existing commitments and manage this transition smoothly and professionally. In addition, this unfortunately means that some of our valued and highly talented colleagues will be moving on. “Today we had to make some difficult decisions in an effort to realign Jaunt for continued success. We are restructuring the company, resulting in letting go of a significant portion of our staff,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch in a statement. Jaunt’s VR effort was a victim of their going full throttle on an emerging business model before enough details were clear. Months before Oculus and HTC had even released their flagship headsets, Jaunt had already raised $100 million from investors with the promise that it was going to capture and gobble up the new VR medium before people event knew what it was. The endless...

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Pokémon Go maker Niantic is coming to TechCrunch Sessions AR/VR

TECHCRUNCH Niantic is one of the few companies in the augmented reality world making some actual goddamn revenue. As such, It didn’t feel right not to have the company that built Pokemon Go represented at our one-day Sessions AR/VR event this Thursday in LA. I’ll be sitting down with the company’s AR research lead Ross Finman at the event to talk about why augmented reality is so important to Niantic’s future and why AR tech can actually make tomorrow’s games and apps more engaging. The game maker struck gold with Pokemon Go, but as it looks for lighting to...

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Venmo bumps up instant transfer fee to 1 percent of the total amount

TECHCRUNCH If you’re a frequent Venmo user, you might want to double-check your settings because the company just changed up their fee structure for instant transfers and it may result in more of your balance slipping away. The fee for instant transfers where a user would move their Venmo balance to their bank account via debit card used to be just $0.25, but the company shared in an email to users late Friday that the fee is increasing to 1 percent of the transferred amount with the company taking at least a $0.25 fee. So, basically, if you’re transferring...

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Grado takes the wraps off their first pair of wireless headphones

TECHCRUNCH Legacy open-backed headphone maker Grado is taking their classic design into the future with the small Brooklyn company’s first pair of wireless headphones. The GW100s have a familiar look but integrate bluetooth tech and volume controls. They go for $249. Grado headphones are a favorite of mine, they have a very unique open sound that really resonates and are perfect for home listening. Previous iterations haven’t really thrived as much on the road or in noisy offices because they tend to let a lot of outside noise in and leak a lot of your tunes out. The company says that they’ve redesigned the housings and internals of the GW100s to reduce noise leakage by 60 percent, no famed wooden enclosures on this design either. Part of what’s great about Grado headphones are their history, we toured the company’s tiny Brooklyn HQ a few years back and took a look at their operations, really cool stuff. It’s tough for a company to make due on just brand legacy alone and even though audio tech generally has a much longer shelf life than other products, there’s always a time to adapt, especially now as more hardware makers purge headphone jacks from their devices. In the past few years, the company branched out into some more mobile-friendly products, but the magic wasn’t all there. The wireless GW100s keep the company’s same drivers,...

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Improbable brings its massive multiplayer platform to Unity game engine

TECHCRUNCH As battle royale games like Fortnite pit more players against each other, studios are starting to realize the potential of bringing a massive online audience together at one time. This ambition has always existed, but Improbable, a well-funded startup aiming to enable these vast online worlds, is looking to bring these experiences to more game developers. Improbable has announced that it is bringing a game development kit for its SpatialOS multiplayer platform to Unity, a popular game development platform used to create about half of new video games. Improbable has some pretty grand ambitions for multi-player gaming and...

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Magic Leap expands shipments of its AR headset to 48 US states

TECHCRUNCH If you are dying to get your hands on some crazy Magic Leap hardware, you have some much better options as of today. At the company’s first developer conference, Magic Leap announced that they are opening order of the Magic Leap One Creator’s Edition headset to the 48 contiguous states of the USA. If you’re in Hawaii or Alaska, no dice. Previously, you had to be in Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, San Francisco or Seattle in order to get your hands on it. Also, if you had previously ordered the headset in one of those cities, someone would come to you, drop it off and get you set up personally. That service is expanding to 50 cities, but you also don’t need to have someone set it up for you in order to buy one now. It’s worth reiterating that this thing costs $2,295. The company is doing a financing plan with Affirm so that interested buyers can spread the cost of the device over 24 months as well now. It’s called a Creator’s Edition but it’s definitely geared towards the developer crowd. There are a few apps available for download in the Magic Leap World Store but this isn’t anywhere near consumer-ready and that’s why they’re getting developers to start building out some cool stuff while they get their ducks in a row and further hone their pitch...

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Google’s Pixel 3 vs Apple’s iPhone XS: how do they stack up?

TECHCRUNCH So you need a new phone do ya? Well as is the case each year there are some hot new pieces of metal and glass out there from Apple and Google and to make sense of how they stack up against each other we’ve got some fine comparison details here for you. This was an iterative year for both the iPhone and Pixel lines. The most notable upgrade for the iPhone XS was the introduction of the Pixel XS Max which balloons the screen size, but otherwise the main differences come in the computational photography tweaks to the camera which Apple has lagged behind Google in. Google’s new phone had a rather leaky introduction but pulled off an interesting release with some camera features we’ll be tempted to check out in more depth once review units come in. This isn’t the fairest of fights as we’ve had some flesh and blood time to examine the iPhone XS warts and all while the Pixel 3 is a shiny new enigma that we’re kind of taking Google at their word for until we can stress test the little bugger. Here’s a bare bones view at the specs you really should be caring abour: display, rear camera and price. Pixel 3 Starts at $799 (64 GB) 5.5 inch 443 ppi OLED screen 12.2MP “dual-pixel” rear camera Pixel 3 XL Starts at...

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