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Category: Technology

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

A Billion Dollars Was Transferred Over Venmo In January

Alex Wong / Getty Images

People transferred $ 1 billion over Venmo in January, the company said today, showing that usage of the mobile money app is still growing fast. The $ 1 billion in transfers is more than 2.5 times the volume seen in January 2015, and ten times as much as January 2014.

In all of 2015, about $ 7.5 billion was transferred using the app. That looks set to grow to at least $ 12 billion in 2016 if the January numbers are sustained throughout the year, but could go even higher: Venmo says one-third of its 2015 transfers happened in the final three months of last year, as the holiday season kicked in.

The payment startup has been lauded by its parent company PayPal, which recently split from eBay. PayPal chief executive Dan Schulman said a conference that the app “really is almost ubiquitous in the under 30 marketplace and it is how they manage and move their money.”

Schulman told CNBC in December that Venmo is “is one of the jewels of Paypal,” and in a call with analysts last month, said the app “is not just another buy button…It is the most beloved way to pay for millennials.” Building on that popularity, Venmo started allowing some apps, including Munchery, to use the service to make in-app purchases, a move that, if expanded, will put it in direct competition with payment services like Apple Pay.

BuzzFeed – Tech

The United States Of Sex Toys: Here’s Who Feels Freakiest

Woman with Shocking Gift

Creatista / Getty Images

Congratulations, America. You've never been so freaky.

Yes, the United States is experiencing a new era of bedroom experimentation, according to import data from Y Combinator graduate Flexport.

After analyzing millions of pounds of sex toy shipments from the past five years, Flexport's data shows that the country's appetite for the bedroom gadgets increased dramatically in 2012 and has remained at a high level since:

Why the spike? Here's one idea: 50 Shades of Grey.

The erotic trilogy's first book published in mid-2011 and shipments really picked up steam in the months following.

Flexport also collected data on which states import the most sex toys. And bravo California, sex toys enter you the most. New York is far behind at number two.

Los Angeles is especially playful.

The city of angels is most popular destination for sex toys in the U.S. You do you, Los Angeles.

So where do all these toys come from? Mostly China.

The factories in China have been busy keeping up with demand. Almost 3 million pounds in sex toys in 2015. Yow!

Flexport's CEO Ryan Petersen told BuzzFeed News in an email he's amazed at how quickly production ramped up in China. “Chinese manufacturers probably didn't read the books to understand why so many more people wanted adult toys, but they saw the signals and were able to respond almost immediately,” he said.

Yeah right. They definitely read the books.

As for Europe, Germany cooled off in 2013.

The U.K and the Netherlands are picking up the slack. Thank god for Holland.

So who is ready for Valentine's Day?

Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

In conclusion, here's a GIF of a man being hit in the face with a dildo during some sort of press conference. They're everywhere!

BuzzFeed – Tech

Cafeteria Workers At Intel Are Protesting

Unite Here has been trying to organize the cafeteria workers at Intel for years. Back in 2014, when workers were at risk of losing their jobs, the union organized a protest on the tech company’s campus. But the workers ultimately didn’t win a union contract.

Two years later, though, the people who serve food to Intel’s employees are still on unhappy. There are around 75 cafeteria workers at Intel, according to a Unite Here spokesperson — and as of yesterday, they were picketing once more.

The cafeteria workers aren’t technically Intel employees. They work for a company called Guckenheimer Corporate Dining. But, because they work alongside Intel employees, a growing coalition of labor activists wants to hold the tech company responsible.

The years since 2014’s protest have seen the advent of a group called Silicon Valley Rising, funded and organized by Working Partnerships USA. It’s a coalition of local religious leaders, labor unions, housing advocates and even a coalition of white-collar tech workers. Organization members are united by their concern over increasing inequality between the developers, engineers, coders and designers who get all the glory in Silicon Valley’s tech industry, and the janitors, landscapers, drivers and food service workers who work there, too.

On Wednesday, the combined efforts of those groups saw somewhere between one and three hundred protesters gathered at Intel’s Santa Clara headquarters. Carrying signs that said “Guckenheimer @ Intel has union contract”, they called for Guckenheimer, the contracted company that actually employs the cafeteria workers, to give them “fair process” to unionize.

The average annual salary in Santa Clara County, where Intel is located, is $ 93,500. Nahima Aguiniga, a single mother of two who works in the Intel cafeteria, said her roughly $ 14-an-hour wage puts her at less than $ 30,000 a year. “I want my kids to live in the place where they grew up, where they can go to school with a tech engineers’ kids,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I have to live with my ex-mother-in-law in a one bedroom with my 14-year-old son and my nine year old daughter. I don’t think that’s fair.”

But it’s not clear whether Aguiniga’s fight is really with Guckenheimer at all. A spokesperson for Intel told BuzzFeed News via email that the company is switching its food service over to a company called Eurest at the end of the month. The cafeteria workers who currently show up to work at Intel’s campus every day might have the chance to apply to work with Eurest, or they could be moved to jobs with another Guckenheimer client, or they could lose their jobs altogether.

Most people have heard of Intel computers, but few have heard of Eurest Dining Services or Guckenheimer Corporate Dining. For this reason, Unite Here and the other Silicon Valley Rising members are trying to hold Intel responsible for the working conditions of the people who serve food there. The California Supreme Court recently passed a law that puts big companies on the hook for everyone who works for it, whether they are employed through a contractor or not. But in this instance it seems pretty clear that Intel doesn’t want to get involved with the problems its lowest paid workers are having. “It is not appropriate for Intel to get involved in the question of whether or not the workers desire union representation,” said an Intel spokesperson via email.

Earlier this month, Intel published the results of its 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Report. The announcement was laden with self-congratulatory language, despite the fact that 75% of Intel employees are male and 86.1% are white or Asian. In an open letter regarding these figures, Intel CEO Brian Kraznich did acknowledge that these are “tough issues” and said the company is “far from done.”

What’s interesting, though, is, based on an informal survey conducted by Unite Here, a little over half of the cafeteria workers at Intel are women, and 78% of them are Hispanic. The company is spending millions of dollars trying to to recruit more diverse job candidates, but some say it chooses to ignore the concerns of one of the most diverse groups of workers at its headquarters.

“We, the contractors, sustain Intel,” Aguiniga said, “but they don’t sustain us.”

BuzzFeed – Tech

India’s Telecom Authorities Have Ruled Against Facebook’s Controversial Free Internet Plan

Manjunath Kiran / AFP / Getty Images

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released their long-anticipated ruling on net neutrality in India. The regulators have ruled against differential and discriminatory pricing of mobile data on the basis of content.

This ruling will affect Free Basics — Facebook’s controversial plan to offer free, but limited Internet access — in India. Mark Zuckerberg has been campaigning to bring increased digital connectivity to the developing world. Free Basics, which claims to have 15 million users in more than 35 countries around the globe, is part of Facebook’s quasi-philanthropic efforts. India is the second largest market for Facebook users after the United States and considered vital to its continued growth.

Today’s much-anticipated ruling by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was not about Free Basics per se. Rather, regulators were reviewing pricing schemes like “zero-rating,” where mobile operators offer access to some websites and services for free, while charging for others. Advocates for digital equality argue that zero-rating gives an unfair advantage to subsidized content, distorts the market for smaller players, and squashes innovation. Supporters of Free Basics, on the other hand, counter that urban elites who already have Internet access should not deny access to the poor, even if more equitable methods exist.

According to the Press Trust of India, TRAI will charge a penalty fee of ₹50,000 a day, and capped at ₹50 lakhs for any discriminatory tariffs charged by service providers. TRAI's decision will be reviewed after two years from the date of issue of the order, February 8, 2016. Service providers have been granted six months to comply with the new rules.

Free Basics was temporarily banned in December until TRAI made its decision. TRAI was supposed to rule last week and rumors have been swirling about the reason for the delay.

In India cheap cellphones have helped make mobile usage common, but only about 20 percent of the population is online. Low Internet penetration is blamed, in part, on prohibitive data charges, which is why prepaid data plans (where consumers know what they're getting into) are ubiquitous. Meanwhile, the country’s telecom market is highly competitive. As a result, telecom providers started offering data packs that promise free or reduced charges to widely popular services like WhatsApp or Facebook long before Free Basics launched in India.

Facebook does not pay for Free Basics, although it does collect data from users. The social network partners with regional telecom operators, who offer the free service as a growth strategy to get customers to start paying for data. In India, Free Basics partnered with Reliance Communications, a telco founded by Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India.

Free Basics was ostensibly targeted at Indians who had never experienced the Internet or could not pay for data plans. However, Facebook recently struggled to provide a reporter with the name of a single Free Basics user in India who had never been online before. Free Basics allows users free access to limited resources including Wikipedia, Bing search, and the weather, as well as a lightweight version of Facebook. Yet normal data charges apply for outside websites, like Google search results, for example.

Facebook's promotion of Free Basics has been orchestrated like a political campaign. In December, Zuckerberg published an op-ed in the Times of India defending Free Basics. In it, he repeated Facebook’s claim that half of the people who go online through Free Basics end up paying for access to “the full Internet” within 30 days, but offered no further details about the study. “Who could possibly be against this?” Zuckerberg asked. “Surprisingly, over the last year there’s been a big debate about this in India.” Other countries have prohibited Free Basics. It is not offered in Chile, for example, because the government banned zero-rating in 2014.

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Public outcry over zero-rating did not begin with Facebook. Last spring, Indian consumers protested Airtel Zero, a data plan that would have given preferential treatment to popular services like Flipkart, one of the country’s largest e-commerce providers. Free Basics eventually supplanted Airtel as the focal point for opponents, in part because Facebook framed Free Basics as a purely altruistic gesture for India’s poor. Indian startup entrepreneurs and professors alike objected to the business model. Facebook countered with an aggressive advertising onslaught of billboards and full-page newspaper ads, but its tone-deaf crusade was brutally spoofed on Reddit.

No one wants to cut off access to the disenfranchised and the vitriol flowed both ways. Net neutrality advocates were accused of being “internet mullahs” who denied access to the poor over their inflexible beliefs.

As an independent government authority, TRAI opted to exercise its power and stepped in to the debate. Helani Galpaya, the CEO of the think tank LIRNEasia, described TRAI as a “thoughtful regulator” during an interview with BuzzFeed News in January. The agency's initial request for feedback emphasized that the “laudable goal” of connecting the unconnected “must not be forgotten.” One of the questions TRAI asked was whether alternative business models, such as offering free data limited by time or volume, rather than content, could offer a less discriminatory alternative.

TRAI has repeatedly called out Facebook for intruding on its regulatory process, which the agency said could have “dangerous ramifications for policy-making in India.” The tension centered around Facebook’s click-to-protest campaign which deluged TRAI with 11.7 million automated comments, when none of the questions asked about Free Basics.

Facebook has updated Free Basics to better serve its intended users before, when prodded. The zero-rated offering was initially called Internet.org — the umbrella organization for its other efforts to bring connectivity to the developing world. Facebook changed the misleading name, made the platform more easily accessible to outside websites and services, and added more security protections for users in response to criticism from net neutrality activists.

Given that Facebook’s future is dependent on growth from emerging markets, India’s debate over Free Basics is far from over. Last week while awaiting TRAI’s decision, Mishi Choudhary, legal director at Software Freedom Law Center, told BuzzFeed News that other areas of the globe including Kenya, Latin America, and Southeast Asia were eagerly anticipating the regulator’s response. “That’s where the moolah is and that’s where the next billion users are,” she said.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Facebook for comment, and will update this story with more information as we receive it.

BuzzFeed – Tech

Executive Turmoil And Turnover At Twitter

Jack Dorsey

Mike Blake / Reuters

A tidal wave of turnover is coming to the top of Twitter, with a number of critical executives on the way out. In addition, two new board members are reportedly on the way in.

Twitter head of engineering Alex Roetter, product VP Kevin Weil, and head of media Katie Jacobs Stanton are all leaving the company. Following reports in Re/code, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed the news. Jason Toff, the GM of the Twitter-owned Vine, is also leaving. This being Twitter, all parties tweeted the news.

Twitter did not respond to a BuzzFeed News inquiry, and referred instead to tweets by Dorsey.

In addition, two new board members will soon be appointed, according to a report in the New York Times.

The departures will likely make what has been a turbulent time for the company even more shaky. Twitter's shares have dropped over 22% since the start of 2016, and over 50% in the last year. The company is being pounded by Wall Street investors disappointed by its slow user growth.

The highest-profile Twitter project meant to spark that user growth is Moments, a tab containing curated stories — about news, sports and entertainment, etc. — made up of individual tweets. Moments, released last October, is a product shaped heavily by Weil and Stanton, and their departures don't speak highly of its performance to date.

Twitter is also expected to announce the hiring of a new chief marketing officer on Monday, according to Re/code.

BuzzFeed – Tech

Kids Are Trying To Get Out Of School By Pranking A News Station On Social Media

Social media–savvy kids are annoying the crap out of Chattanooga ABC-affiliate WTVC NewsChannel 9, going as far as to impersonate a school official in an attempt to get the station to falsely report school closings.

But, as these kids are learning, you can only push WTVC NewsChannel 9 so far. WTVC NewsChannel 9 won't take your shit. It will strike back, and do so with a vengeance.

Take, for instance, the Twitter direct message above, provided to BuzzFeed News by WTVC NewsChannel 9 web director Dan Lehr. In the exchange, a student tried using a DM to get the station to “inform students of no school tomorrow.”

WTVC NewsChannel 9 promptly destroyed the troublemaker:

Missing: child.

Last seen: right before getting owned by WTVC NewsChannel 9.

Kids are also taunting the station on Facebook, asking if their schools are closed. WTVC NewsChannel 9 is pissed at the insinuation that it would withhold such information from the public.

Really pissed.

But of course, in the end, the kids win anyway.

Take that, WTVC NewsChannel 9.

BuzzFeed – Tech

The Oculus Rift Will Cost $599

Oculus

Anyone can now place an order for the Oculus Rift, and the big news is its price: $ 599

Born out of a Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, and purchased by Facebook for $ 2 billion in 2014, Oculus Rift launched what Silicon Valley is hoping becomes a virtual reality boom in 2016. Sony and HTC (in partnership with video game company Valve) are releasing virtual-reality headsets later this year, but putting the Rift on sale today means it will be the first concrete look anyone's had at how much virtual reality might cost the average consumer.

And: It'll be a lot, at least in the beginning.

The $ 600 price tag is slightly higher than expected, especially when considering that Facebook is incentivized to subsidize that price to help launch what it hopes could become an entirely new computing platform.

And the price is misleading, because many users will need to buy a new computer to work with the headset. The Rift is a powerful piece of hardware — it's not something that just can be plugged into a Mac laptop and run. Essentially, if a computer can't handle the massive loads of information creating a virtual environment quickly, it can either shut down or, worse, show everything at a slower frame-rate, which is what's most likely to cause nausea when using a headset.

If you don't have a serious PC (here's what Oculus considers to be a serious PC) but want to run virtual reality, you'll have to buy one, and that's probably going to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $ 1,000. That is the reason why many people are predicting that VR, at least for the next year or two, is going to be limited to gamers and early adopters and not everyone else; they're the ones that don't need to buy a whole new computer to use the technology.

By the time the Rift launches, Oculus will have an approval system in place to let consumers know which laptops and desktops are “Oculus Ready.” In February, pre-orders for an Oculus Bundle, which includes an Oculus Ready PC, will be available starting at $ 1,499.

You're not just buying a headset.

The Rift comes with a camera for positional tracking (how it knows where you're looking and where your head is), two games (EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale), an Oculus Remote, and an Xbox One controller. That doesn't include the very cool Oculus Touch controllers that debuted last year, but a preorder now does put you at the front of the line to order one when they are available later this year.

Should you buy it?

If you contributed to the original Kickstarter, you're already getting a special-edition Rift for free. If you weren't so lucky, the answer is a little more complicated. Oculus is the biggest player in the game right now, the Rift is really, really good, and it has a wide range of exclusive games and experiences on the way. It also begins shipping to 20 countries on March 28th (although if you order now the delivery date has already been moved to April), far before the competition. So, if you're dying to get into VR right now, it's the quickest way to do so and almost certainly going to be a good experience.

That said, no one knows how much the Sony VR or HTC Vive are going to cost. They are likely to cost close to the same as the Oculus — it's going to be a hard sell to consumers that one virtual reality headset is worth much more than the others. However, the Sony will run exclusively on the Playstation 4, which costs just $ 349 if ordered today, and can be used for a traditional TV experience as well as VR. The HTC Vive faces similar constraints as the Rift in terms of necessary computing power, but features full room tracking, which basically means you can walk around a virtual environment. It's cool, and it's something this generation of Rift won't have.

So, if you're on the fence on this, jumping right in might not be the best move. 2016 is going to be a big year for virtual reality, and we're just at the beginning of it. In a few months, more people will be able to try it for themselves (the Rift will be available in “select retailers” by April), more experiences will be available on the headsets, and everyone will collectively decide whether VR is worth wearing those dumb headsets.

Wait a little, virtual reality will still be there when you make a decision.

BuzzFeed – Tech

Yahoo Shuts Down Yahoo Screen Video Service

Justin Lubin / NBC

Under CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo has spent the past few years buying up the rights to football games, launching news shows, reviving flailing network TV series, and creating original content. All of that programming — Community, Jaguars vs. Bills, Katie Couric's daily news show — was hosted on Yahoo Screen. And now Yahoo Screen is no more. BuzzFeed News has confirmed that Yahoo has shuttered the video hub. News of the move, which occurred last week, was first reported by Variety.

With investments in original programming and licensing deals with Viacom for Comedy Central shows and NBC for Saturday Night Live, Yahoo had big ambitions for Yahoo Screen, but they never came close to being realized. Last October, Yahoo took a $ 42 million write-down on the video division behind its original series push. “We thought long and hard about it, and what we concluded is … we couldn’t see a way to make money over time,” company CFO Ken Goldman told investors at the time.

Between October 2013 and October 2015, unique U.S. visitors to Yahoo Screen declined 28%, according to ComScore.

Yahoo's decision to shut down the flailing Yahoo Screen doesn't mean the company is abandoning its video properties. Instead, the company is relocating them to different places throughout the Yahoo ecosystem. “Video content from Yahoo as well as our partners has been transitioned from Yahoo Screen to our Digital Magazine properties so users can discover complementary content in one place,” a Yahoo spokesperson said in a statement.

Shutting down Yahoo Screen is the latest in a series of bad signs for the embattled Yahoo. Many of the company's Mayer-led initiatives have stumbled — Yahoo Screen was once a centerpiece of Yahoo's mobile-first turnaround plan. Last month the company abandoned plans to spin off its Alibaba stake, saying it would instead consider a spin-off of what most people think of as Yahoo. The company isn't about to collapse entirely, but it's proving time and time again that it can't keep up with ascendant tech giants; video is just the latest race it's lost.

BuzzFeed – Tech

Meet The New Year’s Resolution That Will Kick Your Butt If You Mess Up

Like most American men, I dream of a future where I’ll be able to wear skinny jeans, drink fancy coffee and listen to music I don’t quite understand. The only problem is, I love eating so much I can’t quite pull off the jeans part.

For that reason, I spent the past month working on my New Year’s weight loss resolution in advance, both to get a head start on 2016 and to test out Rise, an app I heard was pretty effective at helping people shed the pounds.

Rise is a simple but wicked smart tool. You use it to snap photos of all the food you eat and a registered dietician or nutritionist rates each meal and snack with a green (good), yellow (not so good) or red (did you really need to eat five donuts??). When you join the app, you are assigned a dedicated ‘coach,’ so as you post your food the person reviewing it understands your specific eating habits and leaves comments, helping you figure out how to eat right. You can also message your coach with questions and feedback via a dedicated messaging line. The app costs $ 40 a month on a three month plan.

After telling Rise a little about myself and my goals, I was presented with a few options for coaches and settled on Nicole, a registered dietician based in California. Nicole immediately became significant part of my life.

Every time I’ve thought about food since, or actually consumed it, I’ve had an imaginary Nicole avatar in my head, ready with her red stamp in case I deviated from the healthy straight and narrow. I mentioned Nicole so much to friends and coworkers, she became an honorary part of our groups. They learned her name and warned me of her judgement at meals. When I posted a picture of a stir fry I cooked to Instagram, one coworker couldn’t help but comment: “Nicole will love this.”

Instagram: @alexkantrowitz

She did.

The specter of Nicole kept me in line. And that’s one part of what you get with Rise: fear. (Or for the optimist: positive reinforcement.) The other part is education.

I may have been petrified to show Nicole the garbage I ate, but when I did post it, she was never too harsh and gave me constructive criticism after every foul up. A 520 calorie snack that received a red mark came with the following advice: “Your meals should be around 500-600 calories and snacks around 100-200 calories. So this snack was as much as a meal.” Good advice. In another instance, a dinner of chicken and rice was paired with the following comment: “One thing to work on when plating your food, you want to cover half your plate with veggies, ¼ with grain (rice) and ¼ with protein (chicken). So although you had all the components of a great meal here, your portions just need some work.” More good stuff. Education, though, is half the battle. The more important aspect of all this is actually executing the plan.

Plan the work, eat the plan

The Michael Moss book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, should be required reading for anyone thinking about their relation with today’s food economy. The book, in painstaking detail, lays out how some food companies in the United States have engineered our food to the point where the product is essentially addicting. Some soft drink companies, for instance, optimize towards a “bliss point,” pumping their beverages with enough sugar to make consuming them as pleasurable as possible without leaving us feeling rotten. Similar calculations are made by other food producers who find optimal levels of salt and fat. These operations made unhealthy food so enjoyable and crave-inducing, it’s often very hard to quit them.

And so perhaps unsurprisingly, in this first month with Rise, despite paying more attention to my food consumption than perhaps ever before, I haven’t been able to kick a junk food habit. Worse, I’ve cheated and kept many of my deviations secret, not telling Nicole due to a sense of shame.

Rise likes to pitch itself as something of an anti-diet. “Diets don’t work. #truth,” read the subject line of a recent email the company sent to me. So I wondered if it was possible for the app to help me break free from the bad stuff that’s a fundamental part of my food experience.

When I posed the question to Suneel Gupta, Rise’s CEO (and brother of famous neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta), he told me that eliminating bad food completely is not Rise’s goal. Gupta’s instead insisted that traditional diets aren’t strong enough to win against engineered food. Losing weight is very difficult, he argued (I agree), and to achieve sustainable weight loss, you need more than a set of foods you can and cannot eat. You need real behavioral change. “We have to fight fire with fire,” Gupta explained.

To help its users succeed, Gupta said, Rise emphasizes cutting down on bad food instead of totally eliminating it, offering healthy substitute suggestions and teaching you how to balance the bad with the good. This feels a little weight watchers-y, but it’s helpful to receive constant feedback from someone on your approach to meals.

In a little over three weeks on the app, I’ve made small improvements in my approach to food. I’m eating more vegetables, cooking for myself more often (even trying out a few recipe suggestions sent over by Nicole) and thinking long and hard before scarfing down a bag of chips. If there’s a drawback, it’s that the app makes you think so much about food, it’s easy to become obsessed with your intake. This is dangerous territory for some.

By now you’re probably wondering how many pounds I lost with Rise. The answer is zero. Yes, it’s pretty embarrassing, especially considering I knew I’d be disclosing my results in this post. But though I may have fallen short of my goal, I like the direction I’m headed in. Or at least the one I think I’m headed in. And heck, not gaining weight during the holiday season is a small victory if you ask me.

BuzzFeed – Tech

There’s A Dating App That Lets You Review Your Dates

Anyone who’s been on an online date knows surprises come with the territory. The people you meet don't always resemble their photos. Witty texters can be dull. Single people can be married.

A year-old dating app called The Grade is trying to eliminate surprises and keep people honest. The company, in the hopes of accomplishing this goal, recently introduced “peer review,” a feature encouraging people to rate their matches as “quality person” or not, and then add more detail from there. The Grade includes this information in a public rating of each profile.

“We really do believe this is now the holy grail in dating,” Cliff Lerner, The Grade’s CEO, told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “What is more frustrating than meeting someone on a dating site and finding out they're in a relationship? Or finding out they lied about their age? There's nothing you've ever been able to do about that up until this point.”

Lerner cited a number of statistics — based on The Grade’s own research — meant to support his claim. He said 71% of The Grade’s users believe peer review will help the app eliminate “creeps.” Eighty-four percent of women, he added, said they feel safer on The Grade because of peer review. And 78% of women said they were more likely to “like” someone if they have a positive peer review. Eighty-eight percent of women said they wouldn't like a guy if he had a negative peer review.

Of men who had previously texted their business to a woman they met online, 90% said they would not do so knowing they could get peer reviewed, according to Lerner.

The Grade, using peer review and other factors, has kicked off 1,500 people for falling below its standards. To get kicked off, one needs to get Fs across the board, but it’s possible to get booted after sending a message that is reported by its recipient as abusive or picked up by The Grade’s technology and after human review, is found egregious.

The app has been downloaded 100,000 times in about a year of operation, according to Lerner.

The Grade stamps every profile with an actual letter grade, something I saw firsthand while using the app for the past few weeks. The letter grade takes into account everything from peer reviews, to how many people like your photo, to your spelling and grammar and how often you respond to messages. My grade is currently a B, but it’s been as high as an A-, and as low as an F. When The Grade kicks users off, it gives them a chance to appeal (thankfully, I didn’t get that far). New year’s resolution: respond to messages in a more timely fashion.

The Grade does sound somewhat similar to Peeple, the much-derided, still-unlaunched app pitching itself as a place to post Yelp-style reviews of, yes, people. But there’s one key difference, according to Lerner: There are no free-form reviews on The Grade. In other words, you can’t pen a screed about someone that everyone else on the app will see. Peer review grades, he added, only post if a number of people have rated you. That said, you can submit a peer review without even matching with someone, and most of the grades on The Grade follow a familiar pattern: people perceived as good-looking get the As, folks perceived as unattractive get Fs, and the people in between get Bs and Cs. This isn’t the case with every profile, but swipe around long enough on The Grade and you’ll see the pattern emerge.

One of the nicest things about The Grade is it gives you stats about how often you are liked when each profile picture is displayed. It then compares that against the average likes for people of your age and gender, so you know how you’re doing against the competition. This allows you to keep testing new profile pictures until one finally (hopefully) works, shortening the head-scratching period that accompanies almost every other dating app.

The Grade

“The profile grade is simply based on how much of your profile you've filled out and also how often you're getting liked,” Lerner said, before citing some common problems people run into. “They either have pictures that don't tell anything about their personality,” he said. “… And they don't write anything interesting about themselves.”

Competing against established players like Tinder and Hinge, it’s hard to tell if The Grade’s approach will be enough to give it an entry into the competitive online dating space. But if it can eliminate an unsolicited dick pic, or two, it will at the very least make the world a slightly better place.

BuzzFeed – Tech