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TSMC, other Apple suppliers in Taiwan largely unaffected by deadly 6.4 earthquake



A tragic earthquake has hit the city of Tainan in southern Taiwan, injuring 144, killing at least 5 people and causing the collapse of several large buildings. So far however, it appears that Apple’s suppliers in the region have survived the quake without sustaining significant damage.

Source: TSMC, via SemiWiki

According to a report by Reuters, Apple’s Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co chip fab reported minor damage to some silicon wafers, but stated that its Tainan facilities were structurally intact and that the firm would “be able to make up for the wafer losses and so first quarter shipments will not be affected.”

Two other Apple suppliers reported their facilities were unaffected by the quake: Catcher, the manufacturer of metal cases for iPhones, iPads and MacBooks; and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, which supplies components for Apple Watch and Touch ID fingerprint sensors for iPhones and iPads.

The quake comes at a particularly bad time for Taiwan, as the country is celebrating the Lunar New Year, a major holiday season where many travel to be with their families.

Source: Reuters

A report by the BBC noted that the shallow epicenter of the earthquake resulted in amplified, violent shaking, and that the initial tremor had been followed by a series of at least five aftershocks.

At least 220 people have been rescued from damaged buildings. Search efforts continue and shelters are being erected for those who lost their homes in Tainan, which has a population of 2 million.

A series of large apartment buildings have either collapsed or were left precariously leaning from the magnitude 6.4 quake, which reportedly shook the city for 40 minutes and could be felt in the northern city of Taipei, nearly 200 miles away.

Fifteen years ago, a 7.6 magnitude quake in the middle of Taiwan caused the death of more than 2,300 people. Last year, AppleInsider published a special Greater China report on Apple in Taiwan.

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Apple adds server-to-server web service requests to CloudKit



Apple’s CloudKit framework for automating apps’ storage and retrieval of user data “in the cloud” has learned a new trick. Developers can now read and write data in their app’s public database from a server-side process or script.

Source: Apple

Apple launched CloudKit in 2014 to provide third party app developers with easy to use, secure, scalable iCloud data storage for their users. It used the technology to launch its own new Photos app, which automatically stores users’ photos in an iCloud database that keeps images in sync between devices.

Last summer, the company added support for accessing CloudKit app data via JavaScript and Web Services, enabling developers to build websites that present the same data to users who sign in with their Apple ID. Apple used this feature to develop a iCloud web client for Notes, presenting a web view of the same content users see when they open their Notes app on iOS 9 or a Mac.

Source: Apple

Apple has now introduced the ability for developers to access their iCloud data via an automated server-to-server request, making it possible to build apps and web sites that not only store data, but can update, process or otherwise editor or modify user data stored on Apple’s servers.

An app like Photos, for example, could offer cloud-based image processing, while an app like Notes could update users’ documents with live data or perform scripted server-side editing (such as optical character recognition in images).

The new functionality makes CloudKit a more flexible and powerful tool for app and web developers who want to leverage cloud-based storage and processing without rolling their own server-side implementation, enabling them to focus on client app features instead.

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Meet The Finalists For The NFL’s 1st And Future


It’s here! 1st and Future, the startup pitch hosted jointly by the NFL, Stanford and your favorite tech blog, TechCrunch, is tomorrow!

We’ve scoured fields, courts, arenas and stadiums around the world to find the most promising startups bringing technology to sports. These companies help athletes move faster, stay safer and ultimately perform better.

But what about those of you who are cheering the stands or watching from home? Not to worry, these startups will help you get your tickets or gear faster, navigate the stadium and connect with your team. They’ll show you a whole new way to watch and bring the magic of the live event to wherever you call home.

Each team has just 5 minutes to convince our expert panels of judges that they are the most likely to succeed in their category. One winner from each category will receive $50,000, a meeting with NFL executives and two tickets to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

1st and Future kicks off (see what we did there) at 8:30 am PT on Saturday, February 6th from the Standard CEMEX auditorium. The event is closed to the public, but you can follow all the action via the live stream on TechCrunch or on Twitter with the hashtag #TCNFL.

Without further ado, TechCrunch is pleased to announce the participants in 1st and Future (in order of appearance):

Bringing Home The Game
Maestro provides engaging video experiences that drive user action, sponsor transactional revenue, and robust data collection for business-minded broadcasters.

LiveLike uses Virtual Reality to bring you and your friends together in a sports viewing experience that’s as easy as turning on your TV and as thrilling as going to the stadium.

Fanmode is making the world a stadium for fans. With its proprietary communications platform and smart device applications, Fanmode solves this problem and makes global real-time fan participation possible.

FirstV1sion’s JerseyCam enables broadcasters to offer the best action from the player’s angle in real time, making them feel the action closer than ever.

Tomorrow’s Athlete

DimeTime(by Radd3)
DimeTime is an advanced, virtual reality-based football training system featuring real NFL formations, route concepts, and real NFL player speeds and movements.

Kenzen delivers real-time health insights using patented biosensors, sweat analysis and predictive analytics. Our mission is to predict and preempt injury and health complications.

NextGenVest CEO On What Fintech Startups Can Learn From Uber


Last week, following TechCrunch’s coverage of Kelly Peeler and his company NextGenVest, I caught up with Peeler, whose company is using Snapchat to send money tips to millennial students.

In what turned out to be a entertaining and insightful interview we discussed a range of topics including why traditional financial institutions have lost all brand loyalty with millennials, what millenials look for in emerging brands today and what the current customer acquisition methods are to attain this sector of the market.

Peeler also explored why we are moving from a trend of financial organization to financial efficiency, and how this impacts the blossoming Fintech economy. He also discussed what Fintech startups can learn from the strategies of consumer facing startups, like Uber.

Featured Image: nenetus/Shutterstock

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BlackBerry Confirms Job Cuts At Waterloo HQ And Florida Manufacturing Facility


It looks like John Chen is swinging the axe at BlackBerry. The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it let go “a small number of employees… in Waterloo and Sunrise, FL”.

Update: BlackBerry updated its statement and now says 200 people were laid off.

This comes after a report by the Global And Mail that the befallen smartphone maker cut 75 jobs at its Florida manufacturing facility. Then, separately, MobileSyrup states BlackBerry is cutting 35% of its workforce in its Waterloo headquarters.

Official statement:

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce. This means finding new ways to enable us to capitalize on growth opportunities, while driving toward sustainable profitability across all parts of our business. As a result, approximately 200 employees have been impacted in Canada and Florida. It also means that BlackBerry is actively recruiting in those areas of our business that will drive growth. For those employees that have recently left the company, we know that they have worked hard on behalf of our company and we are grateful for their commitment and contributions.”

This cut shouldn’t come as a surprise. The company is still trying to find its footing. CEO John Chen stated in late 2015 that the company could stop manufacturing handsets. It previously stopped using its custom BlackBerry OS and instead adopted Android to power its latest phone, the BlackBerry Priv.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) stock is currently trading at $7.11, down 4% on the day, though it opened on the news that TD Securities gave the stock a C$9.00 price objective.

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Glu Mobile Pins Its Hopes On New Taylor Swift Game


Glu Mobile, the mobile gaming company behind recent app store hits like the once-viral “Kim Kardashian” Hollywood,” and who recently took a stake in top trivia game QuizUp, is hoping it has another potential breakout title on its hands thanks to a newly announced deal with pop star, Taylor Swift. According to news unveiled this week, Taylor and Glu will work together over the course of a multi-year partnership to deliver what the company describes as a “new and highly differentiated gaming experience.”

What that “gaming experience” will include, Glu isn’t yet saying, noting that specific game details won’t be revealed until later this year.

The game itself is expected to launch in late 2016, the company said.

Glu also noted that this would be the Grammy award-winning artist’s first foray into mobile gaming.

But it’s not Swift’s first time developing a mobile property. The star previously won an Emmy for best “Original Interactive Program” for her “AMEX Unstaged: Taylor Swift Experience.” That app, available for both iOS and Android, let viewers go inside Swift’s “Blank Space” music video and explore the storyline in a 360-degree format.

While not a game, that app could help predict how successful the forthcoming Swift property may become, and how well the star is able to convert her 227 million+ social followers into app downloads.

Based on figures provided by App Annie, the “Taylor Swift Experience” app debuted as a top 10 app in the “Music” section on the iTunes App Store, and briefly flirted with a top 100 “Overall” ranking, but thereafter, quickly dropped. The app fell into the 100’s, then 200’s, then further, in the “Music” category and was last spotted at #399 in “Music” apps section on iTunes.

The Android version followed a similar trajectory in Google Play’s “Music Audio” section.


Swift also has her “official” app on iOS and Android, published by Mroadie, which has been around for years. But it barely ranks these days, having dropped to #540 in “Music” on iOS, and is currently unranked on Android.

That doesn’t mean that Swift’s new game from Glu won’t do well – after all, the official app is more like a mobile version of a website, while the music video is something that you’ll get enough of after a couple of viewings max. A mobile game, meanwhile, can be more engaging and played for longer periods of time.

A mobile game, meanwhile, can be more engaging and played for longer periods of time.

Plus, Glu has proven it can build out a game that has viral effects, as it did with the Kardashian title. Even if the game’s #1 App Store ranking doesn’t last forever, it can pull into big dollars while it’s hot.

Case in point: some estimated that Kim’s game would gross $200 million in annual revenue. It fell far short of that as its ranking slid, but still brought in $13.6 million or 24% of Glu’s revenue in Q4 2015.

Kim Kardashian app

For Glu, the Swift partnership is a big win for the struggling gaming company which has been facing deteriorating net income, weak operating cash flow, and disappointing stock performance, as noted by The Street. The company said that for the fiscal first quarter 2016, it’s anticipating a loss between 5 and 6 cents per share on revenue between $46 million and $48 million.

Despite this, the stock popped 23% on Thursday morning, and then was seen trading some 32% higher a few hours later. The boost was due to the news of the Swift deal, which investors clearly seemed enthused about despite the hit-or-miss world of mobile gaming.

Perhaps they have short-term memories?

Sure, Swift is a big catch but so was Katy Perry. And Glu’s recent bet to repeat its Kardashian success with Perry, whose game followed a similar formula to the earlier celeb title, pretty much bombed. Hopefully for Glu Mobile, Swift’s game will fare better.

Featured Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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Augmented Reality Helmet Startup Daqri Nabs Former SpaceX, Qualcomm And Virgin Group Execs


The augmented reality space is hot and getting hotter, especially among enterprise companies looking to redesign the experience of the onsite employee of the future.

Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch

Patrick Alo2

Patrick Alo

Roy Ashok2

Roy Ashok

Daqri, an AR smart helmet startup, is growing its leadership board significantly today while it continues testing its device. The company is adding three new executive positions today: Mike Lynch, who most recently tackled talent acquisition and human resources at SpaceX, will be joining Daqri as chief human potential officer; Roy Ashok, a former product management leader at Qualcomm, will be coming aboard as chief product officer; and Patrick Alo, a marketing leader from Virgin Group, will be appointed as chief marketing officer.

These latest hires will give Daqri improved flexibility as it looks to aggressively hire top talent and expand the company’s brand presence in the enterprise community.

The device itself doubles as a safety helmet and set of safety glasses in addition to providing “mixed reality work instructions, safety information, mapping and more” for industrial workers. The helmet is already being tested with some major corporations, including Autodesk, GE, Topcon, Hyperloop and KSP Steel.

The LA-based startup gathered headlines at CES 2016 when it unveiled its enterprise-focused augmented reality helmet. Our own Sarah Lane sat down with the Daqri team to discuss potential use cases for the device and the future of AR tech in the workplace.

“Roy, Patrick and Mike are experts in their respective fields and come from some of the world’s most innovative companies,” said Brian Mullins, founder and CEO of Daqri, in a statement. “They are joining at a crucial time as we are making huge advancements in AR technology and holography that will have a game-changing impact on the industry. We are laser focused on our mission of changing the face of work with the deployment of the Daqri Smart Helmet and have the team in place to do just that.”

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