TechSummit Rewind #075

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Walmart testing last-mile grocery delivery via Uber, Lyft, Deliv

The Walmart logo is pictured in Los Angeles

Walmart and Sam’s Club will start testing last-mile grocery delivery that uses services like Uber, Lyft, and Deliv to bring customers’ orders to their homes.

With the program, customers can shop using the company’s online grocery service, then request delivery at checkout for a small fee.

The company is starting “small” with these tests, before letting customers guide the process going forward.

The first tests will go live either this week or next week in Denver and Phoenix. Uber will be trialed in one market, while Lyft will be used in the other.

Customers will place their online orders, and then trained Walmart Personal Shoppers fill those orders.

Roughly 35,000 fresh groceries, daily, meat, frozen food, health and beauty products, baby items, and consumables available in Walmart’s online grocery store.

Shoppers will choose a time frame, and pay an additional $7-$10 delivery fee to offset the cost of using the service.

Walmart will then request a driver from Uber or Lyft to come to the store using the company’s normal app. Uber and Lyft are working with Walmart on the tests, and the drivers will be alerted that they are grocery orders when summoned.

“Whatever you pay for apples or oranges or slice deli meat, is the exact same price as you’ll pay with us online. Part of pickup’s success has not only been saving time, but also saving money – you’re not paying more for the convenience… that’s the reason why grocery pickup has been so well-received by our customers.”

-Ravi Jariwala, Walmart director of Public Relations

Xiaomi unveils $23 Mi Band 2 activity tracker

xiaomi-mi-band-cropped1

Xiaomi has unveiled its latest wearable, the Mi Band 2, that tracks steps, monitors your heart rate, and features a display (for the first time). It costs a little less than $23.

According to Xiaomi, the company has sold over 20 million activity trackers to date, less than only Fitbit.

That small black-and-white display can display the time, your step count, your heartrate, as well as distance and calorie counters. The device can also monitor sleep.

If you’re sitting for too long, the Mi Band 2 will vibrate to remind you to move – just like on the Apple Watch.

If you have a Xiaomi phone, it’ll detect if it’s connected to your Mi Band so that you won’t need to type your passcode. The passcode is reactivated if the Bluetooth device gets disconnected.

The Mi Band 2 has a battery that lasts up to 20 days, and is water-resistant with user-replaceable silicon bands. The device will go on sale on June 7 in China.

Microsoft HoloLens now has email, calendar apps

HoloLens Principal Program Manager at Microsoft Nick Fajt speaks on stage during at Windows 10 Devices Event, on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in New York, New York.  (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for AP Images for Windows)
HoloLens Principal Program Manager at Microsoft Nick Fajt speaks on stage during at Windows 10 Devices Event, on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in New York, New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for AP Images for Windows)

Microsoft has announced the launch of dedicated HoloLens apps for Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar.

Other than a holographic version of the Seattle skyline, they look like a direct clone of their Windows counterparts

However, there are some neat applications here. According to Microsoft, you can pin your email inbox or daily schedule to the wall, so you can interact with it when you choose by looking over at a designated area.

Google launches business-friendly tool for testing website mobile-friendliness, page speed

Google-new-logo-700x438

Google has released a new landing page for testing your website’s mobile friendliness and page speed for desktop and mobile. This should make it easier for small businesses to test their sites.

The tool will test all of this at the same tie, giving you all three scores on one page, an emailed report for you to share with your webmaster team, and a score out of 100 of how mobile-friendly the website is.

The scores are in the categories of mobile-friendliness (The quality of a user’s experience), mobile speed (how long it takes your site to load on mobile), and desktop speed (how long it takes you site to load on desktop).

Facebook shutting down Notify app

Facebook Notify

Facebook is shutting down Notify, the app that let you subscribe to push notifications from publishers like CNN, Bloomberg, and Vox Media. Users were alerted of the app’s shutdown by a push notification.

According to Facebook, the technology that powers Notify will be absorbed into products like Messenger.

“Since launching Notify, we’ve learned a lot about how to make notifications as timely and relevant as possible and we heard from people using the app that Notify helped them stay informed about things they cared about throughout the day. With more than 900 million people using Messenger each month, we think there is a great opportunity for publishers to reach even more people interested in real-time updates from their favorite sources.”

-Facebook, in a statement

Samsung debuts wireless exercise earbuds, new version of Gear Fit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Samsung has unveiled an update to its Gear Fit activity tracker and the IconX wireless earbuds.

The Gear Fit2 is designed for all day wear, with a curvier 1.5-inch Super AMOLED display that conforms to the wrist better. Samsung’s also offering the tracker in two different sizes to appeal more to male and female users.

The company’s promising three to four days of use on a single charge.

The Fit2 also has a built-in heart-rate monitor and GPS, so wearers can track their route even without a smartphone. There’s also 4GB of built-in storage for storing music offline, and a deal inked with Spotify to offer playlists built for the wearable although without offline caching at this point.

There’s also multi-sport and sleep tracking, dropping the need to tapa start button for tracking specific tasks. The Fit2 will work with phones running Android 4.4 KitKat and above, and is available now for pre-orders at a $179 price tag. It’ll launch in stores on June 10.

However, the more compelling product might be the IconX.

This doesn’t mean that the wireless earbuds are without its sacrifices. Battery life is dismal at roughly 90 minutes of connected music playback, according to Samsung. However, the company is using it as a point to position the IconX as a workout companion that’s designed to head to the gym with you and get swapped out for headphones when you’re finished.

The earbuds feature built-in heart-rate monitoring and are capable of tracking distance and speed. They also come with a wireless charging case, which should make their easier to track down.

The Icon X also features 4GB of internal storage, and will be priced at $199 when it launches in Q3 of this year.

Medium acquires Superfeedr content feed provider

Medium

Superfeedr, a San Francisco-based company with tools that help websites send and receive content through common protocols like Atom and RSS, has been acquired by Medium.

The Superfeedr web service and API aren’t going away, according to Superfeedr founder and CEO Julien Genestoux. However, the company is already making its presence known on Medium.

“My first commit at Medium was to enable full content RSS feeds both for publications and users. Medium already lets you add your own domain name, import and export all of your posts, point to a canonical URL if you cross-posted, supports DNT … and we’ve started working on more!”

-Julien Genestoux, Superfeedr founder & CEO

Spotify’s lyrical karaoke feature goes bye, bye, bye

Spotify-app

Spotify has ended its partnership with Musixmatch, a company that powers the tool with its catalog of song lyrics. The streaming service does still offer insight into the meaning f a song’s words, thanks to a separate partnership with Genius.

According to a Medium post, Musixmatch’s lyrics will no longer be available in the Spotify app. The company’s library is still available through its own apps for Android, iOS, Chrome (via YouTube), and the web.

“We don’t want to run the risk of Musixmatch no longer existing. We would eventually like to offer this experience to third parties, however only if the economic value is recognized.”

  • Max Ciociola, Musixmatch founder & CEO

“It was a great partnership and there is mutual respect between both companies as our business strategies move us each in different directions.”

  • A Spotify spokesperson

Glassdoor raises $40M at $1B valuation for job search platform

Glassdoor logo

Glassdoor, which helps people look for jobs and research companies that interest them based on feedback from others, has raised $40 million in Series H funding that values the company at roughly $1 billion.

Henry Ellenbogen and T. Rowe Price led the round with participation from previous investors Battery Ventures, Google Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Tiger Global.

“We believe that Glassdoor is fundamentally changing the way job seekers search for jobs and companies recruit talent. Their unique user-generated data includes millions of reviews, which increases transparency in recruiting. Our view is that Glassdoor is executing well, and it can be a much larger company over time.”

-Henry Ellenbogen, Glassdoor investor

According to Glassdoor founder and CEO Robert Hohman, the Mill Valley, Calif.-based company will use the new funding to continue growing out its content areas and to invest in the machine learning tech that helps it detect bogus posts trying to game the system and make better matches between candidates and job. Glassdoor also wants to develop new content areas for the site.

Apple releases updated version of iOS 9.3.2 to solve bricked 9.7-inch iPad Pro issue

iPadPro_Pencil_Lifestyle1-PRINT

Apple has released a new version of iOS 9.3.2 specifically for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro to resolve an issue that caused some of those tablets to get bricked after installing the original iteration of the update.

The new version, build 13F72, can be downloaded over-the-air on 9.7-inch iPad Pros that didn’t previously install the latest version of iOS 9.

If you get an error 56 message when updating from iOS 9.3 or iOS 9.3.1 to iOS 9.3.2 or later, you’ll need to restore the tablet from iTunes.

Users may also run into a related issue asking them to disconnect or turn off the iPad Pro during the update.

Facebook to enable community-activated Safety Check

Facebook Safety Check

Facebook is making its Safety Check feature more stable and easier to deploy, meaning that there might be more Safety Checks on the platform.

There’s a new, simple form that any Facebook employee on the team can activate, meaning that a dozen people worldwide will now have the ability to issue checks.

Safety Check is Facebook’s tool to quickly let people know that you’re okay during a crisis like the Paris terrorist attacks or a natural disaster. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg committed to enabling Safety Check in more human disasters going forward after criticism for not issuing a check during the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has made it possible to launch the feature across 80 languages instantly, and has added a suggested groups people for people affected by the crisis for places to stay and where to get resources like food and water.

According to Safety Check creator Peter Cottle, Facebook will look to “bring the community’s voice to the table on when they want to use it and when they want to activate it” over the next couple of weeks. In these tests, the feature will be triggered by a combination of a certain number of people posting about a crisis and an alert from one of Facebook’s third-party sources. Once the people threshold reaches a certain point and is confirmed, Facebook will ask them if they want to mark themselves safe and let them request their friend’s safety status.

“This is a really exciting time because not only is the community specifically themselves activating it, but also the ones promoting it and spreading it. They’re the ones making the decision of ‘this is when safety check will be useful and I want to ask my friends,’ and it’s no longer Facebook sending the notification.”

-Katherine Woo, Facebook social good team product lead

Ultimately, the goal is to enable those in a crisis to signal whether Safety Check would be useful to them and their friends. During this test, Facebook will be closely looking to ensure that the right crises are rising and the wrong ones aren’t. This year, Facebook has activated Safety Check from the top down 17 times, while the tool has been activated 28 times in total.

“That is a pretty big acceleration in terms of the rate of activation, but it’s based on feedback of the community, of people saying over and over again it provides so much relief and it’s really helpful for these times. I think us as a team are like, ‘Wow, this is something we should invest in and double down in, so it’s my full-time job now, which is really exciting.”

-Peter Cottle, Safety Check creator

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