Tag: This

This Phone Will Never, Ever Run Out Of Storage

How has this not been invented yet?!

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

This is the Robin. It’s a new Android phone that has smart software, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space.

This is the Robin. It's a new Android phone that has smart software, so you don't have to worry about running out of space.

Robin is made by a company you've never heard of called Nextbit. I know what you're thinking: Another Android device? Aren't there already thousands of those? (24,000, actually.)

But Robin is different for two reasons: it's really freaking pretty and it runs a unique version of Android that analyzes how you use your phone, then sends stuff you don't need (like an app you haven't opened in months or a photo from a week ago) to ~the cloud~ (AKA a giant building full of servers).

Nextbit

I had the chance to try out Robin for a week, and was immediately hooked.

I had the chance to try out Robin for a week, and was immediately hooked.

I was sold before I even turned on the device. The mint version's hardware is playfully colorful. I'd describe its aesthetic as “minimalist kawaii.” ¯_(ツ)_/¯

It's sleek. It's eye-catching. Its material is soft to the touch. It's just… really attractive, which is not an adjective I typically use to describe Android devices.

The phone is definitely a conversation piece. This morning, while I was waiting in line for coffee: “Cute case. What is it?” “No, it's a phone, actually.” “No way, really?” (Yes, way.)

Nicole / BuzzFeed

The phone’s software is awesome, too. When Robin is plugged into a charger and connected to Wi-Fi, it’ll backup apps and photos automatically so you never have to delete content to make room for more.

The phone's software is awesome, too. When Robin is plugged into a charger and connected to Wi-Fi, it'll backup apps and photos automatically so you never have to delete content to make room for more.

A row of blinking lights on the back of the phone will let you know that there's a sync in progress.

Nicole / BuzzFeed


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BuzzFeed – Tech

This Iconic American Image Is Now Owned By China

Bettmann/CORBIS

New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam is one of the most enduring images of American industry. Now, perhaps fittingly, it has followed in the footsteps of so much of the country's industrial capacity and headed to China.

Rights to the picture are owned by image licensing business Corbis Images, which has been acquired by Visual China Group, the companies announced today. Corbis was founded by philanthropist and former Microsoft chief Bill Gates in 1989.

Corbis Images includes the Bettmann and Sygma archives, which hold more than 50 million images between them, including a “significant historical image collection” and “images covering Europe’s most important historical events,” Getty Images said in a statement. Getty will now be distributing the Corbis images through a partnership with Visual China Group.

The Bettman images are stored in a former limestone mine in Western Pennsylvania at subzero temperatures, according to the company.

One of those images is New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam, the 1932 picture of workers enjoying a meal 800 feet above Midtown Manhattan during their work on what would become the RCA building in Rockefeller Center.

“There’s also something about the values and contradictions of the American ‘30s in the image, that these are workers during the Clutch Plague, that they are building, not stopping,” Corbis's Director of Historical and Fine Art images said in a 2012 interview.

“Corbis is a world-leading and widely esteemed brand in the image industry, and we are thrilled to add this treasure-house of valuable image assets to our premium brand portfolios,” China Visual Group CEO Amy Jun Liang said in a statement. “The transaction strengthens our dominant position in China’s image industry, enhances our core competence in the global high-end image market, and marks a significant milestone on our journey of globalization.”

The Corbis parent company will hold on to its Branded Entertainment Network and Corbis Entertainment, which will be rebranded, the companies said. BEN works on product placement for brands. “The sale of Corbis Images accelerates the company’s transformation into an entertainment advertising business with a particular focus on product integration,” the statement said.

Visual China Group, a large Chinese image licensing company, is the latest Chinese company to snap up an American media company. Dalian Wanda, a real estate and media conglomerate, acquired the Jurassic World film studio Legendary Entertainment for $ 3.5 billion earlier this month, while the Chinese tech company Beijing Kunlun Tech bought a majority stake in the gay hookup app Grindr.

BuzzFeed – Business

Am I A Robot? Because I Have No Idea What This CAPTCHA Says

Warner Bros / Via HBOGO

You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and have to solve a CAPTCHA.

The ubiquitous authentication method is meant to distinguish real live humans from bots trying to overload a form on a website. It is always annoying, but never in my experience has it been genuinely baffling. Until today.

I got eyeglasses to deal with myopia two years and since then I fear that my overall eyesight has only gotten worse. Today at work I had to authenticate myself to send a message to a company when I saw this.

Even though my initial thought was that the image showed “exe11i,” I wasn't at all sure. I asked my coworkers. While they couldn't agree with each other, they all thought I was wrong.

One suggested “xevui, ” while two others put forward “xevnr” and “exvur” respectively. At best, this showed we all had varying degrees of poor vision that was no match for a nasty CAPTCHA, at worst it confirmed that the majority of us were not human.

Instead we are like Rachael in Blade Runner, human-seeming androids who had been able to pass simple tests but end up revealing our artificial natures under closer examination.

We reached no definitive conclusion about the CAPTCHA, but instead were left with a nagging feeling that our apprehension of reality is deficient.

The consensus was it said “xevur” — I entered that and was rejected. A new CAPTCHA appeared, the old one disappeared forever and we'll never know what the right answer was.

For what it's worth, even my attempt at the subsequent image failed.

Finally after a third try, I passed. But that might have just been one machine taking pity on another.

Warner Bros / Via giphy.com

BuzzFeed – Tech

A Game Called “Pie Face” Is This Holiday Season’s Runaway Hit

It’s like Russian roulette but with whipped cream, and Hasbro can’t make it fast enough to satisfy raging demand.

Sapna Maheshwari/BuzzFeed News

A game that revolves around the eternal human desire to fling piles of whipped cream into the faces of friends and enemies is flying off shelves this holiday season.

Such is the strange draw of Pie Face, a popular 1960s kids toy that's become a surprise hit this holiday season thanks to a viral video from earlier this year.

Pie Face is best described as Russian roulette, but with whipped cream. Players use a spinner to determine how many times they must turn the toy's handles. Eventually, one turn will trigger a plastic hand, flinging “pie” into the player's face. That's basically it! The entire game.

If you're vegan, or no fun, or both, the game makers say you can also use a wet sponge instead of whipped cream. They even include a sponge.

Here’s what it’s like to get “Pie-Faced”

Heroically demonstrated by BuzzFeed News reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy.

vine.co

As simple and absurd as it sounds, Pie Face has become wildly popular. Alongside Star Wars and Frozen toys and talking Barbies, the $ 20 Pie Face game is “selling well and is just about sold out everywhere,” BMO Capital Markets analysts wrote in a Dec. 1 note. It was No. 5 on a list of eBay's bestselling toys and games on Nov. 29 and named a “fastest-trending” product on Black Friday by IBM.

As of Wednesday, Pie Face was out of stock at ToysRus.com but available from third-party sellers on Amazon, where it's No. 1 in the board games category, and No. 3 for all toys and games after Cards Against Humanity and “Exploding Kittens”.

“Nothing is quite as satisfying as watching your children get pied in the face over and over again … I have laughed until my stomach hurt,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon. Another described Pie Face as “the purest form of dumb fun there is.”

Jonathan Berkowitz, Hasbro's senior vice president of marketing for gaming, told BuzzFeed News that Pie Face is a “top item” for the company this year. “We're doing our best to keep up with consumer demand,” he said.


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BuzzFeed – Business

With $2.9 Billion In Sales This Year, OfferUp Is Coming Out Of Stealth Mode

OfferUp co-founders Arean van Veelen and Nick Huzar.

OfferUp

Craigslist is the crocodile of the tech industry — a perfectly evolved beast that has outlived competitors trying to buy into it, decimated an entire industry, and withstood the rise of mobile. It did all that while looking more or less exactly the same as it did when it launched in 1996. What can appear on the surface to be a lack of attention to the principles of modern design or underinvestment in product development is really just a predator operating at its evolutionary endpoint.

But in the era of the unicorn, never underestimate the urge to fight a crocodile. Why shouldn't Craigslist be overtaken by an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly marketplace for people who want to buy and sell things?

Investors have now put $ 90 million into one company trying to do just that. OfferUp, founded in Seattle in 2011, is far from a household name and has had little publicity, but its founders say the service has quietly become a significant player in e-commerce. They say $ 2.9 billion has been transacted over their marketplace so far this year, a big number for anybody in the industry. In comparison, Etsy's marketplace had $ 1.93 billion in sales in all of 2014, while industry giant eBay had $ 19.6 billion flow through its system in its most recent quarter.

OfferUp “is among the fastest growing marketplaces we have ever seen,” Jeff Jordan, a partner at Andreesen Horowitz and board member at OfferUp, said in a statement. The venture capital firm first invested in OfferUp in May 2014, Jordan wrote in a blog post today, “but kept that information under wraps—at the company’s request—as they methodically rolled out to new cities.” (Andreesen Horowitz is also an investor in BuzzFeed.)

When you first open OfferUp, you see an Instagram-like grid of photos of stuff available near you. I live in North Brooklyn, so I saw some knit goods, iPhones, formerly expensive jeans, cars, and hoverboards. You can also search for specific items.

Matthew Zeitlin

So far, so good. But the founders say their real innovations are on the seller side, and in features that give buyers and sellers confidence in interacting with each other, even though most purchases are still done in cash. Buyers and sellers each have ratings, and can chat over the app without giving up a phone number or email address.

The two founders — Nick Huzar, the chief executive, and Arean van Veelen, the chief technology officer — said when surveys asked why people didn't buy or sell items online, many women said they were concerned about safety. To address that, they allowed third party ID verification. Buyers and sellers “have to go through the process to be verified to know they are the person they say they are,” van Veelen said.

Another peace-of-mind feature is something users of dating apps and sites will be familiar with: letting users see mutual Facebook Facebook friends, or what OfferUp calls “trusted connections.”

Building an app that women feel comfortable using is a priority, and the two male founders point to prominent women leading the business: A woman leads OfferUp's engineering team, and a woman is responsible for trust and safety features on the product team.

OfferUp raised $ 73 million earlier this year, and has raised a total of $ 90 million. While the company won't disclose a valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported in October that it had been valued “around” $ 800 million in a March funding round. “I wouldn't say that number is accurate,” Huzar said. “What I would say is that we’ve 5X’d our growth since January, we’re a way bigger company than we were back then.”

One metric that hasn't grown in the last year is revenue, which remains at the tidy figure of zero. “Today we’re not monetizing as a business,” Huzar said. Hence all the cash the company has raised. With no revenues, it has grown from 15 to over 60 people employees in a year, and includes former employees of Amazon, eBay, and Airbnb.

Do Huzar and his team have any plans to get some money coming in? Advertising, perhaps, or taking a cut from sellers or charging for certain listings? If there's a plan, the company is keeping things vague for now. “There are existing models we could look to and potentially adopt and there are new things we could do,” he said.

OfferUp is backed by big-name investors like Andreesen Horowitz, the hedge fund Coatue, and asset manager T. Rowe Price. “If you think about the market we’re going after, it’s a massive market,” Huzar said. “Our investors are super excited by how fast we’re growing.”

BuzzFeed – Business

Get To Know Your Poop Bacteria With This New iPhone App

A company called uBiome wants to bring microbiome testing and research to the masses. But there are limits to what you’ll learn, and unlike in traditional research, you pay to participate.

Mheim3011 / Getty Images

The bacteria in your gut, long overlooked and considered unglamorous, is now one of the hottest subjects in biology. These trillions of food-digesting microbes seem to play a significant role in our health and ability to fight disease, though scientists are still trying to pin down exactly how they do so. Now a startup that's conducting a giant, crowdsourced microbiome study is extending that work via a new iPhone app with an eye toward better understanding how your gut may influence your weight.

But there's a catch: Unlike traditional clinical studies, if you want to take part in this one, you'll have to pay up.

uBiome, a biotech startup that began life with a crowdfunding campaign in 2012, sells $ 89 gut bacteria sequencing kits — think of them as the bacteria equivalent of 23andMe's DNA spit kits, but grosser. Swab some poop off your toilet paper, take uBiome's health and lifestyle survey, and a few weeks later the company will show you how your microbiome compares to those of others who've done the same test, publicly available microbiome study data, and (if you're a gut bacteria enthusiast) any earlier samples you've submitted.

Yet participants' information will be used to create products sold for profit. In addition to charging participants, uBiome is using their data to create diagnostic tests and may someday open it up to pharmaceutical companies. The service also won't give you a diagnosis or any actionable advice about changing your diet or health: The microbiome is complex and ever-changing, so there is no “normal” or “healthy” one to aim for.

Still, uBiome notes that studies have linked various lifestyle and medical factors — like being vegetarian or taking antibiotics — with differences in microbiome profiles, even if the exact nature of those relationships aren't clear. According to uBiome, tens of thousands of people have already submitted samples.

The startup has now adapted that service into an iPhone app available today. Built with ResearchKit, Apple's open-source software platform that lets iPhone app users participate in clinical studies, the app quizzes people about their diet, exercise, and other weight-related lifestyle factors before directing people to send in a bacteria sample.

Notably, uBiome is the first for-profit company with a ResearchKit app that requires people to use or buy its product. All seven other apps on the platform are led by universities, nonprofits, and academic medical centers, though there are others in the works at pharmaceutical companies.

uBiome CEO Jessica Richman says the app is an extension of the company's mission to democratize research through the Internet. “Previously, the only science that could get funded was through research grants given to senior researchers,” she told BuzzFeed News. “When you have crowdfunded science or citizen science, and citizens can support science they want to do on their own bodies, you have a tremendous opportunity for people to research things interesting to them and not to anyone else.”

uBiome

Citizen science sometimes ruffles the feathers of traditional science. In late 2012, the co-founders — Richman and Zachary Apte, a University of California, San Francisco, student — raised $ 357,000 on Indiegogo to start the company and send kits to donors. But some scientists took them to task for announcing a study of human samples without first hiring an independent review board — a third-party group that monitors ethical and safety issues in human research. Richman and Apte responded that, as bootstrapping entrepreneurs, they lacked the thousands of dollars to pay for such a board before their campaign; they did so once the funds were raised and before samples were processed. uBiome has since raised more than $ 4.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz and the tech incubator Y Combinator.

The iPhone app, which is free to download, aims to show how microbiomes differ among people with different eating habits and weights, like being on a high-fat, high-carb, vegetarian, or Paleo diet or trying to gain or lose weight. The first 1,000 users will get a uBiome kit free; the rest will have to pay for kits that normally range from $ 89 to $ 399 at a 50% discount (or 20% off a subscription that delivers kits monthly). A “buy” button in the lower-right corner takes them to uBiome's website to complete the purchase; the only way to be a participant is to be a customer.

One criticism against uBiome has been that in traditional studies, research subjects don't have to pay to participate. Richman noted that the company has given away kits numbering in the “mid-thousands,” including to people with infections and inflammatory bowel disease (conditions believed to be linked closely to the microbiome).

Richman argues that uBiome, as a for-profit, can't make its services free to everyone. “If you can't afford $ 89, you can't have science done for you,” she said. “But while still being a business, we try to support the kinds of studies that will generate data we think should exist.”


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BuzzFeed – Tech

This Company Just Started Offering Free, Customized Tutoring Online

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

For years, the ed-tech start up Knewton has been content to stay behind the scenes, lending its adaptive-learning technology to big-name education publishers like Pearson and Houghton Mifflin. But Knewton is stepping out of the shadows with a plan to take its technology to the masses.

Today, the company is launching Knewton.com, a free online tutoring platform that creates personalized lessons for learners out of completely “open” content — videos, readings, and test questions that are uploaded onto the platform by users. Though it is starting with kindergarten through high school, the plan, the company said, is to eventually move into college-level subjects and beyond.

Jose Ferreira, the company's CEO, calls Knewton.com a “robot tutor in the sky.”

Knewton, founded in 2008, has made its business out of providing technology to many of the world's largest education companies, allowing them to build curriculum that adapts to individual students. Knewton software collects millions of data points about what students know and how they learn, then translates them into customized lessons, questions and quizzes.

The new platform launching today brings the same technology to teachers, parents and students, formulating custom lessons for students by stitching together the best videos and quizzes from a library of user-created content. Working within a topic like “exponential equations” or “cellular respiration,” each student will see a different lesson, with different quiz questions and videos, stitched together based on the student's strengths and weaknesses.

In a classroom, Knewton.com might function as a replacement for a worksheet on a topic like the Pythagorean theorem — rather than giving every student the same questions, teachers can have students working at their ability, with some reviewing the basics of the concept and others solving advanced problems.

For the first time, rather than using a textbook company's curriculum, Knewton has put its software to work on “open educational” resources like Youtube videos and teacher-written lessons. The idea is to use Knewton's technology to pick the best of those resources, then serve them up to thousands of students. Knewton's algorithms test the effectiveness of every piece of content that's uploaded to the platform. Materials that work well will be “floated to the top,” with the potential to be shown to thousands of students; if it proves ineffective, it will be sifted out in favor of better curriculum.

“There's so much good stuff out there, and only a small percentage of it is on the web,” said David Liu, Knewton's chief operating officer. “So much is trapped on teachers' desktops, so we're really trying to open up great content that would normally only be seen by maybe 30 students.”

Knewton said there are no plans to charge users for the platform; its moneymaking business, Liu said, is its back-end work with curriculum companies like Pearson. But the company still has a lot to gain from offering the service.

Knewton's business is built on understanding how students learn. As the platform grows, Knewton will learn more about what makes good content, how students move through subjects, and what teachers want out of tutoring resources. That knowledge will be a boon to Knewton's moneymaking business, too, allowing it to provide better technology to the companies it works with.

Knewton will also amass detailed “learner profiles” of students — profiles that can, ideally, follow students into classrooms and outside of them. These, too, will enhance the quality of the company's technology.

It also won't hurt that the service will give Knewton a foothold in many schools where it doesn't currently have a presence, showing teachers and school districts the value of buying curriculum that uses Knewton technology.

Knewton last raised money in 2013, when it brought in $ 51 million in Series E round. In 2011, when it raised $ 33 million, it was reportedly valued at well over $ 150 million.

For now, the content on Knewton.com is focused around K-12. In this early stage, Knewton is making a big bet on elementary school teachers, relying largely on them to upload the content — and to populate the platform with their students.

There's already a huge demand for content and lesson-sharing among teachers, said Liu, though much of it is decentralized. Knewton hopes to create a place not just to upload that content, but a way to judge whether it works, and for what types of students.

“Every other site is putting out what experts think is best,” Liu said. “We're doing something very different. We're finding the content that is shown to be the most effective, at that point in time, for that student.”

Many ed-tech companies have had huge success by going directly to teachers to distribute their free products — like Remind, an app that allows teachers to communicate with parents and students that neared the top of the Apple app store last year, or ClassDojo, a behavior-tracking app that has become enormously popular among teachers.

But working directly with teachers to spread its product will be new territory for Knewton, which has so far dealt only with large companies like Pearson. That could prove a challenge for the company. Though it has pre-loaded the site with a stock of educational content, Knewton.com will only thrive if it has users to populate the site and students to learn from.

BuzzFeed – Business

This Perfect Chrome Extension Replaces “Millennials” With “Snake People”

“For Snake People, A Generational Divide.” H/T creator @ericwbailey.

You know that wrathful feeling you get when you see yet another article making broad, sweeping generalizations about so-called “millennials”?

You know that wrathful feeling you get when you see yet another article making broad, sweeping generalizations about so-called "millennials"?

Time Inc. / Via wordpress.com

Curb your angry, eye-rolling urges with this delightful Chrome extension that replaces the m-word with… “Snake People.”

Curb your angry, eye-rolling urges with this delightful Chrome extension that replaces the m-word with... "Snake People."

Via chrome.google.com

Revisit Google results:

Revisit Google results:

Via google.com

What does Snapchat’s CEO think about this generation?

What does Snapchat's CEO think about this generation?

Via bloomberg.com


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BuzzFeed – Business

This Selfie Stick Phone Call Photo Will Be The Lasting Image Of 2015, Our Time

“Hello? History?”

Roberto Baldwin

Every so often, a photograph comes along that defines an era.

Maybe it's Alfred Eisenstaedt's V-J Day snap of sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.

Maybe it's a man standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square.

Though these images will live forever and their significance will only grow, when a new one appears, its significance is immediately, terrifyingly obvious.

Today, the good early adopters over at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas have given us one such image. Though 2015 is less than a week old, this single photograph of a middle-aged, salt-and-pepper-haired suit taking a phone call without removing his selfie stick now stakes its claim to immortality, searing itself onto our cultural memory, instant history.

Joseph Bernstein contributed reporting to this story.


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BuzzFeed – Tech

This Is Why Brands Say “Bae”

“To borrow a millennial phrase, we’re on cleek,” said Taco Bell’s incoming CEO. “Not everybody know’s what I’m talking about right now. That means you’re on point.”

In the eyes of young people, Taco Bell is “on cleek,” its incoming CEO told investors on a call earlier this month, explaining that it’s millennial speak for “on point.”

w.soundcloud.com

A new Twitter account, @BrandsSayingBae, delighted the Internet this week, calling out chains from IHOP to Taco Bell for imitating teen vernacular on social media as part of their earnest pursuit for consumer engagement — a holy grail sought through “baes” and “on fleeks.”

The screenshots are entertaining, poking fun at Jimmy John's for replies like “whatcha waitin for bae,” or Applebee's for tweeting “#WontonTacos on fleek.” The account's bio reads, sarcastically: “It's cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation's products.”

@BrandsSayingBae's current location, according to its bio: Hell.


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BuzzFeed – Business

9 Crazy Weight-Loss Scams People Fell For This Year

The Federal Trade Commission is preparing for a New Year’s spike in weight-loss scams. This year’s highlights included a cream inspired by lobster hormones, and a magical pill that claimed to strip the calories from a plate of spaghetti.

ftc.gov

ftc.gov

As Americans resolve to lose weight and diet this year, scammers are at the ready to collect what amounts to hundreds of millions each year in products that swear to trim inches and cut pounds, usually without any exercise. The Federal Trade Commission is preparing for the annual spike in weight-loss product fraud that tends to occur this time of year, as consumers search for a “magic bullet,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director for the FTC's division of advertising practices.

“In terms of advertising issues, weight loss fraud is one of the top priorities for the Federal Trade Commission,” Cleland said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “It's very lucrative for scammers…you've got an audience that is susceptible to being scammed and a fairly sophisticated group of marketers that are very adept of taking advantage of them.”

In the FTC's most recent consumer fraud survey, back in 2011, more consumers fell prey to fraudulent weight-loss products than any other fraud; an estimated 2.15% of consumers, or 5.1 million American adults, bought and used such goods that year. Despite that, companies typically can't pay the full fines demanded by the FTC as they've run out of money at that point. A tally by BuzzFeed News found that those accused of making fraudulent weight-loss claims paid less than $ 100 million in consumer refunds and penalties this year.

“Even in the best cases, it doesn't compare to the amount of money that consumers actually lose on the products,” Cleland said. “The companies have generally spent the money either on advertising or laundered the money to their own bank accounts or something, so there's usually very little money left over for consumers. That suggests that consumer education is probably a more effective tool at protecting consumers than law enforcement.”

Cleland notes that consumers should remember “there is no miracle out there.” Below, nine scams that the FTC ruled on this year.


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BuzzFeed – Business