Author: Lucas Matney

Mobile website creator Universe nabs $4 million Series A

TECHCRUNCH The small team behind Universe, an iOS app which allows users to build modular, simplistic websites in a minute or two, has scored some new funding as it looks to grow its operations and its ambitions. The startup has closed a $4 million Series A investment from Javelin Venture Partners, General Catalyst, Y Combinator, Box Group, Eniac Ventures, Paul Buchheit, Yuri Sagalov, Louis Beryl and others. Universe has raised $7.2 million to date. The startup’s focus on building mobile websites has aimed to bypass the more complicated approaches of desktop-first web design companies for a process that feels...

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Here’s what having the biggest game of the year looks like at E3

TECHCRUNCH For all of the beautiful photo-realistic titles shown off at E3 this year, for all the mind-bending storylines and beautiful art styles, it seems that nobody can stop thinking about Fortnite. The battle royale title has picked up users at break-neck speeds, announcing yesterday that it now has 125 million active users logging in and dropping into battle. The Epic Games title is available across a wide variety of platforms — it just launched a version for the Nintendo Switch yesterday, successfully rounding out the most viable gaming platforms. In short, this is Fortnite’s year, and on the E3 show floor, Epic Games made quite the splash with one of the more elaborate booths, complete with mechanical llama piñatas, photo ops, merch, snacks and plenty of opportunities for fans to stop and play a little Fortnite. Check out some more of the ridiculous opulence...

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Twitter’s next big move is a revamped hub for everything you want to see

TECHCRUNCH The chronological news feed has been a bit of a looming specter for Twitter. Sure, it’s their bread-and-butter but it only works for users who are willing to put in the time to prune their own feeds and strip away follows while constantly keeping an eye out for new accounts. For Twitter, a major challenge is discovering how they can update the experience for casual users who follow a few accounts but haven’t gotten deep into the discovery phase yet. Twitter’s efforts to double-down on surfacing live events coverage and catering to users’ specific areas of interest have been...

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Jane.ai raises $8.3M to bring a digital assistant into your office software

TECHCRUNCH Even as AI assistants delve deeper into consumer hardware, companies still seem a bit reticent to bring them deep into their office software workflows. Jane.ai is aiming to bring natural language processing and intelligence into an employee-facing solution that lets people query a digital assistant to give them information about documents, meetings and general company knowledge, The St. Louis startup announced today that it is raising an $8.3 million Series A from private investors to power this vision. Jane lives inside apps like Slack and Skype for Business (in addition to its own web app) where users are...

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Hands-on with Nintendo’s Poké Ball Plus

TECHCRUNCH Nintendo doesn’t come out with a ton of hardware in between system launches, the peripherals it does come out with have a history of being pretty quality but the Poké Ball Plus may be the nicest little game-specific system accessory Nintendo has sold yet. At Nintendo’s big, honking E3 booth I had a chance to go hands-on with the little golf-ball sized device. Nintendo was not allowing us to take video or pictures of it during use, but rest assured, this is exactly what it looks like in real life. For what should by all means be a gimmicky little device, Nintendo put a thoughtful amount of engineering into the little ball which was surprisingly fun to play the new titles with and seemed to offer a lot more than nostalgia for prospective owners. Build-wise this thing feels nice and hefty with an experience that feels a bit more immersive than using a Joy-Con because you are holding a little ball rather than flicking a controller, additionally there are some lights on the joystick/trigger that light up to showcase when you’re caught a Pokémon or are housing one. You can charge the Poké Ball Plus via USB-C and you’ll get about 6 hours charge on it, the company tells us. You can navigate your character through the game with the joy-stick and push it in to make selections. When it...

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Everything Nintendo announced at E3 2018

TECHCRUNCH Nintendo came out with the big guns for its pre-recorded E3 conference this morning, delivering updates on a couple veteran franchises while also bringing some new titles to its Switch console. We didn’t get a ton of big surprises, but what Nintendo showed off was certainly exciting to a lot of fans. The bulk of the presentation was (as expected) devoted to the intimate minutiae of Super Smash Bros Ultimate, which is arriving at the end of the year and will bring the biggest cast of video game series to the game ever, with some new characters arriving...

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Super Mario Party lets you connect multiple Switch consoles to expand your screen

TECHCRUNCH Super Mario Party is coming to the Nintendo Switch but alongside the new party gameplay, there appears to be an interesting new use of the Switch hardware for multi-player. It appears you’ll be able to modularly connect at least two Nintendo Switch consoles to expand the size of the screen you’re working with. In gameplay it seems actions will be able to seamlessly move from one screen to the other after users draw where the connection between the consoles are. Mario Party has long been a Nintendo franchise that pushes the technical limits of the systems in their...

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Reddit brings autoplay native video ads to desktop and mobile

TECHCRUNCH The advertising-lite days of Reddit are now firmly in the rear-view as the rapidly maturing company begins to seriously chase advertising revenues in users’ feeds. Today, the Reddit has announced that it is rolling out autoplaying video ads across the site on mobile and desktop. Reddit is looking to tread as carefully as they can as the company begins to quickly scale its ad products; its vocal user base has often proven resistant to sweeping changes. Users will be able to turn off autoplay on video ads in their main feed. Additionally, for the time being, video ads will only be served to users that are utilizing the expanded card display type which is the default of three new modes in Reddit’s latest mobile and desktop redesign. These are also just for standalone ad campaigns at the moment, this rollout will not add pre-roll ads to videos that users click on. Additionally, video ads will be available to managed advertising partners first with all partners gaining access in the next month or so. The popular site, which currently reports 330 million monthly active users, has remained relatively unchanged for much of the first half of this decade, but over the past couple years has accelerated its product growth with a redesign of its mobile apps and desktop site, a move to host images on video natively and, more recently,...

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