Amazon just debuted the Echo Look, which TechCrunch calls “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 gadget is integrated Alexa -- Amazon’s voice-controlled assistant -- and syncs with users’ phone, so they can view their floor-length selfies.
Among other new features, Google Maps just made it easier for people to remember where they parked their cars. “The new feature for forgetful people mixes GPS with manual data entry to ensure you arrive at the exact spot where you left your vehicle,” Venture Beat reports. “You can also stipulate when your allotted time expires if you’re on a meter, and Google Maps will remind you when it’s time to return to your car to avoid getting a ticket.”
Over the past year, the U.S. gaming industry has grown “content” sales from $16.5 billion to $24.5 billion, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s annual “Essential Facts” report. Rather than pure growth, however, that’s because, “Tracking firm NPD … updated the way it counts the still-shadowy world of digital game sales,” ars technica reports.
“Micro app” platform maker Sapho just received $14 million in funding. “Typical categories covered in Sapho’s range include expense reporting, sales software, IT support tickets and HR tasks,” TechCrunch reports. “Sapho added a Microsoft Teams integration earlier this month, and it also added an integration with IBM Domino (the server side of the legacy service IBM Notes) this past February.”
Microsoft just added a phone sign-in feature to make it easier for people to sign into their accounts. As Gizmodo writes: “Microsoft's phone sign-in works similarly to Google's sign-in prompts in that it uses a mobile app … to confirm your identity, but you'll never actually need to type a password when signing on to Microsoft services.”
Digital health startup Blink Health has raised another $90 million from VC firm 8VC and other investors. "Blink Health scours the Internet to find out what people are actually paying for their prescriptions," Business Insider writes. "Then, in the case of generic medications, Blink Health negotiates with the pharmacy to get a certain price." That startup has now raised a total of $165 million, according to BI.
For several years, Apple has been quietly developing sensors that can monitor blood sugar levels, CNBC reports. "The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways," it writes, citing sources. More recently, CNBC notes, "Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers" for the effort.
Branch just raised $60 million from Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures and other investors, TechCrunch reports, citing sources. Formerly known to the world as Branch Metrics, the startup specializes in “tools to enable developers to provide links between websites and apps,” TC notes. “It works with email campaign managers and also plugs into a number of analytics tools so marketers can test various campaigns to see which are most effective for driving downloads or even commerce in-app.”
Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart just raised a staggering $1.4 billion from top investors, including Microsoft, eBay, and Tencent. “This is the largest fundraising round for Flipkart that has raised around $4.6 billion,” The Economic Times reports. Yet, “The e-tailer said this capital was raised at a post-transaction valuation of $11.6 billion, a notable drop from $15.2 billion valuation in May 2015.”
Google is taking steps to curtail fake results that appear in its Maps service. “Google said that while ‘fewer than 0.5 percent of local searches lead to fake listings,’ they still want to reduce the chance of anyone finding a fake business on Google Maps,” Search Engine Land reports. “The new procedures have led to Google being able to detect and disable 85 percent of fake listings before they even appear on Google Maps.”