LG and CES are made for each other. The company may not make the best smartphones (with the exception of Google’s Nexus 4), or get the most attention all year round, but when they whip out the big screen TVs at their massive CES booth, it’s easy to get on the “Life’s Good” bandwagon.
Unfortunately, TechCrunch is one of the few attendees at the show that isn’t all that interested in television, which is why we were so pleased to stumble upon this cute little NFC printer, the LG Pocket Photo.
It’s incredibly small — you can probably fit the little guy in your back pocket — and it uses a new Z-ink (or Zero ink) technology to print 2
Gigwalk, a mobile app that allows users to get assigned basic “gigs” or jobs from companies via their location, has raised $6 Million in Series A venture funding from August Capital with existing investors Greylock, Harrison Metal, SoftTech VC, Founder Collective, and AdMob founder Omar Hamoui participating.
Gigwalk, which launched last year, basically allows companies to tap into a mobile workforce for simple tasks. Users simply download the app, enter PayPal information and get assigned entry-level “gigs” or jobs that may take just a few minutes at a time in a particular location.
Businesses post Gigs, such as mystery shopping, store audits, field photography, and much more through Gigwalk.com. These are instantly delivered to user’s phones through the Gigwalk app. Individuals have earned up to $14,000 on Gigwalk since 2011.
Over 190,000 jobs have been completed through the platform for companies like eBay, Microsoft, Chegg, and BMW. The company also now has workers in all 50 states in the U.S. The startup recently allows mobile work groups to give companies a way to maintain a network of people they have worked with in the past and want to work with in the future, as well as field tools.
For example, TomTom uses Gigwalk’s workforce to snap pictures to verify certain navigation points, such as one-way streets, etc. These workers simply snap a picture, email them in and receive a few dollars for the easy task. Gigwalk recently launched one of its largest Gigs, expanding a relationship with Microsoft’s Bing that will place over 100,000 photo-capture Gigs in 3,500 cities across the country.
Last year, thousands of Gigwalk workers completed tens of thousands of Gigs for Bing across major metro areas. This year’s new crop of Bing Gigs will include cities of all sizes in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Additionally, the company has named former VP of Business Development Bob Bahramipour as CEO while CTO and Co-founder Matt Crampton will be expanding his role to CTO and Head of Product.
This round of funding will be used to extend and enhance Gigwalk’s marketplace and mobile technology. One area where the startup is exploring is creating an algorithm to match Gigwalkers with the best Gigs for their skills and experience. With each Gig, Gigwalk is creating more data points about each worker (Gigwalk currently has 200,000 active workers). The company also says that tasks have expanded beyond just photos–other tasks include surveying consumers at malls and more.
And we may be seeing Gigwalk in international markets soon. The company recently expanded to Canada and is eyeing launches in overseas markets as well.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Lookout, a company that offers security services for a number of smartphone platforms, is upgrading its mobile security app for Android phones today. The new version includes a sleeker management console, as well as a nifty feature in case your phone is lost and is losing battery life.
For background, Lookout’s web-based, cloud-connected applications for Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and iOS devices help users from losing their phones and identifies and block threats on a consumer’s phone. Users simply download the software to a device, and it will act as a tracking application, data backup and a virus protector much like security software downloaded to a computer. People can also manage multiple mobile devices and locate a phone or tablet on a Google map.
Lookout, which has 25 million users, says that in general, 30% of people who have had their phone stolen or lost do not recover their phone. And 85% of Lookout users say they recovered their lost phone in less than an hour, compared to just 25% of the general population.
Lookout says it located 9 million phones in 2011, which is a value of $2.5 billion. The chances of losing a phone are greater at night, more specifically, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Plus, nearly 30% of people who reported a lost phone via lookout said they could not recover their phone said it was due to their battery dying, which is why the company’s newest feature, Signal Flare, was created.
Signal Flare automatically flags the last location of a phone if it has a low battery. If you lose your phone after a battery has died, Signal Flare improves your chances of finding the phone with its last whereabouts.
In addition to a new UI, the new version of the Android app also includes an activity feed, which is a dashboard that intelligently categorizes updates for all things security. So at a glance in the app, you can see any threats, app download histories, data backups, and security notifications.
Additionally, the app includes a safe dialer protection against dialer based security attacks, which Lookout says are a new category of mobile threat. The new feature scans every hone number you click to call, alerting you if dialing the number could have unintended consequences, including wiping
your phone without your permission.
Clearly, as we are using our phones for more and more browsing activity, and app usage; we are at risk for malware and security issues. The company says that in the United States, 4 in 10 users will click on an unsafe link on a mobile device this year and estimates that more than six million people were affected by Android malware from June 2011 to June 2012, many of whom were affected by Toll Fraud applications Toll fraud malware increased from 29% in Q3 2011 to 62% in Q2 2012 – a 33% increase.
Lookout has raised $75 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners and Index Ventures and others.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
New data on the state of the Android ecosystem has been posted to Google’s Android Developers site. The big reveal? Gingerbread, the version of the Android mobile operating system released back in December 2010, is still leading with 57.5% of Android OS share. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is at 20.9%, and Android 2.2 (Froyo) has 14%. Yes, Froyo – released in May 2010. And as for the newest version of Android, aka Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)? It’s now installed on 1.2% of Android devices, up from 0.8% a month ago.
Since Google only revealed Jelly Bean in late June, promising rollouts to Nexus handsets and the Motorola Xoom in mid-July, the number of Jelly Bean devices can also help paint a picture of new Android device sales, and perhaps most importantly the early traction the Jelly Bean-based Nexus 7 tablet is seeing. (Maybe that’s why Google opted for the giant Google.com homepage ad?)
Also, despite the new device announcements at Motorola’s press event yesterday, Jelly Bean’s traction doesn’t look to immediately improve. Even though Google completed the acquisition of the handset maker Motorola Mobility earlier this year, Motorola’s new phones (the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD and Droid RAZR M) aren’t shipping with Jelly Bean. This news, of course, comes with a sigh of relief from competing OEMs who feared that Motorola would be given an unfair advantage now that it’s Google-owned in terms of getting the latest OS ahead of the pack. Nope.
Instead, Motorola promised that it would attempt to upgrade both new and existing handsets to Jelly Bean soon. But it also went a step further - promising a $100 credit if it failed to do so after consumers purchased one of its newest Android phones. (More details on that here.)
To be fair, Jelly Bean’s small install base isn’t a great reflection of consumer demand for Android devices. Because Android updates are in the hands of OEMs and carriers, users can’t follow the upgrade path to newer software releases the way that Apple iOS device owners can simply download updates over-the-air or via iTunes. But that also makes things challenging for the Android developer community, which has to deal with different screen sizes, device types, and API versions, in addition to variations in Android OS versions. Plus, we should note that the fallout from Apple’s landmark court win against Samsung has yet to really come into play, either. Will Google begin to workaround the infringement issues by redesigning parts of Android to work differently? And, if so, how will that impact the Android fragmentation problem even further? It’s too soon to tell, but the issue of Android OS fragmentation at least, doesn’t look to be getting any better with the release of Google branded tablets and the Motorola buyout.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Gigwalk, a mobile app that allows users to get assigned basic “gigs” or jobs from companies via their location, is unveiling a new suite of tools to allow companies to manage local work via the phone.
Gigwalk, which launched last year, basically allows companies to tap into a mobile workforce for simple tasks. Users simply download the app, enter PayPal information and get assigned entry-level “gigs” or jobs that may take just a few minutes at a time in a particular location. For example, TomTom uses Gigwalk’s workforce to snap pictures to verify certain navigation points, such as one-way streets, etc. These workers simply snap a picture, email them in and receive a few dollars for the easy task.
Gigwalk is making it easier for companies to communicate with workers. Ad co-founder Ariel Seidman tells me, the company is focused on giving businesses the tools and controls it need to collaborate with workers and get work done efficiently. New Mobile Work Groups give companies a way to maintain a network of people they have worked with in the past and want to work with in the future. Companies can post their jobs specifically to their groups, more broadly to the Gigwalk network, or to both.
Currently, Gigwalk has around 130,000 workers in its network to help businesses find the right workers for the right jobs. When evaluating a candidate, businesses can see the number of Gigs each applicant has completed, the applicant’s highest level of education, his or her current occupation, and his or her on-time rate.
In order to help companies communicate with workers in real-time while they are completing tasks, Gigwalk has added instant messaging to its app. Businesses receive an email whenever there is a communication through the platform, such as when they’ve received a message from a worker, when an application to a Gig has been received, or when work has been submitted and is ready for review. Businesses can respond directly through the Gigwalk platform, and messages are sent to workers’ mobile phones.
The app also now includes a survey guide, a notepad, and a photo library to enable workers to more efficiently document and collect information in the field.
Seidman says that some people using Gigwalk are earning $6,000 per month for work. Since launch, over 180,000 jobs have been completed through the platform for companies like eBay, Microsoft, Chegg, and BMW. The company also now has workers in all 50 states in the U.S.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Lookout, a company that offers security services for a number of smartphone platforms, is debuting a new Android app that lets you see mobile threats as they are detected around the world. Launched from Lookout Labs, the new app basically visualizes what’s happening in the mobile landscape and also shares details on top weekly threats & distribution of malware vs. spyware.
For background, Lookout’s web-based, cloud-connected applications for Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and most recently iOS devices help users from losing their phones and identifies and block threats on a consumer’s phone. Users simply download the software to a device, and it will act as a tracking application, data backup and a virus protector much like security software downloaded to a computer.
Lookout collects data from its Mobile Threat Network, a cloud-based network which constantly analyzes global threat data to identify and quickly block new threats with over-the-air app updates. The network includes more than one million apps and 15 million user devices worldwide.
With the Lookout Mobile Threat Tracker, you can now see the thousands of threats that Lookout identifies and catches every day via the network. Within the Mobile Threat Tracker you can quickly see the top three trending threats. For example, if you tap on the name in the app, you can learn more about each threat. For example, this week’s top threat, RuPaidMarket masquerades as a useful app, but actually sends premium SMS messages without allowing you to opt out, or letting you know that you will be charged.
The data is updated hourly so you can see mobile threats appear and disappear overtime.The app shows the top three mobile threats for the past week are RuPaidMarket, Legacy and Depositmobi. And the current distribution of malware vs. spyware is 60 percent malware and 40 percent spyware.
While the app may not be one for a daily check, the newest Lookout offering could be a useful way to routinely see what the possible threats are for your Android phone at any given time. Lookout predicts that malware, spyware and other mobile security risks will only increase in 2012, so users will have to be more vigilant about protecting their smartphones in the coming year.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Lookout, a company that offers security services for a number of smartphone platforms has long catered to the mobile security need of Android, Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry users but has not offered an iOS app. After two years of development, Lookout is finally releasing a dedicated security application for iPhones and iPads via a new, free iOS app launching today.
For background, Lookout’s web-based, cloud-connected applications for Android, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry phones help users from losing their phones and identifies and block threats on a consumer’s phone. Users simply download the software to a device, and it will act as a tracking application, data backup and a virus protector much like security software downloaded to a computer.
Clearly the iPhone app was a missing piece of the puzzle for Lookout, especially considering that iPhone owners do more with their phones than anyone else, including browsing the web, sending emails, using social networks and even mobile banking. In fact, 52% of iPhone users conduct mobile banking on their iPhone. When designing the app, Lookout focused a single, easy to use app to keep iPhone users safe, and started by addressing the biggest risks to iPhone users today.
For example, in a survey, Lookout found that 93% of iPhone users said they have concerns about the security of the data stored on their phones. And 4 out every 10 iPhone users are unsure about the security of public WiFi. Plus More than a third of users don’t regularly sync their devices.
Basically the app secures your iPhone against all of these threats and more. With the missing device feature (which is the most popular feature on the Android app), you can use Lookout to help locate your lost or stolen phone on a map or sound a loud alarm to find it nearby. In terms of security, Lookout will walk you through the steps necessary to better protect your privacy and secure your iPhone.
The app will actually notify you of settings or out of date software that could a phone’s privacy at risk, including letting you know if your iPhone is Jailbroken. Another feature alerts you when you connect to an unsecure WiFi network. And you can see which apps can access your location. Similar to Lookout’s other apps, the iOS app will back up your contacts and data on the iPhone and iPad.
And with the addition of an iOS app, you can now manage a number of different devices, including your iPad, iPhone and even Android phone or tablet, from a dashboard on Lookout’s site.
One feature noticeably missing from Lookout’s iOS app is malware protection. A few months ago, Lookout launched a new mobile browsing application that will automatically check every website a user visits, from an app, email, or browser on a mobile phone, to prevent phishing sites from stealing personal data and malware from being installed on a device.
But the company says that historically malware has not been a problem with iOS, so it didn’t make sense to include this functionality in the new app. Of course, iOS 5 also offers some of these security features as well, including software updates and more. But Lookout says that the action users take of ‘not updating now’ and saving updates for later is the biggest threat to mobile security.
Lookout is now 12 million users strong, and is now adding 1 million users a month. And Lookout’s app is actually powered by Lookout’s Mobile Threat Network, which constantly analyzes global threat data to identify and quickly block new threats with over-the-air app updates. Threat detection that would have taken days now happens in minutes; effectively protecting users before they even know a threat exists.
The Mobile Threat Network is powered by a dataset of over 700,000 mobile applications that grows daily as more applications are added to app stores around the world. On average more than 1000 apps are added to the Mobile Threat Network daily.
There’s no doubt that with the addition of iOS Lookout’s userbase will growth significantly. And don’t be surprised if the company released a premium offering as well.
Lookout just raised $40 million in new funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners and Index Ventures. John Hering, CEO and co-founder of Lookout, told us at the time of the funding that Lookout is ‘orders of magnitude bigger than’ its competitors including Symantec, and McAfee. His goal is to hit 100 million users soon, and certainly with a new iOS app, this could become a reality in 2012.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Learning to play an instrument is challenging; the progress in the early stages is slow, and the exercises that help you learn are boring and tedious. It’s largely for this reason that so many people give up on their chosen instrument before they reach vaunted rock star status. So, to combat this drop-out problem, Ovelin, an early-stage startup from Finland has built a game for the iPad called WildChords that aims to provide a fun way for beginners to learn guitar so that they can get over those early humps and go on to musical glory.
Essentially, WildChords takes the Guitar Hero model and applies it to early-stage musical education. You simply download the game onto your iPad, and pick up your acoustic or electric guitar and start playing. The app uses high-tech audio technology to recognize the sound through your device’s microphone what chords you’re playing, turning your six-string into a game controller.
The gameplay itself is based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin story, so the user finds his or herself among a menagerie of animals that have recently escaped from the zoo. Each animal likes a particular chord, so the object is to play all of the chords correctly, and save the animals — and the city — from madness.
The game levels are short one-minute exercises that become successively more difficult as the players’ skills improve. While the game is intended for people of all ages, the animation and gameplay will likely be more appealing to a younger audience.
Ovelin founders Mikko Kaipainen and Christoph Thür told TechCrunch that the game’s design is intended to differentiate itself from Guitar Hero, in that this is an app to teach the user to play guitar, not to necessarily to give you the impression that you’re a rockstar. Because, let’s be honest, most people are far from it. (Myself included.) The songs are also, generally speaking, simple, and though some of the melodies may sound familiar, you won’t find a lot of recognizable songs. This is because, as anyone who has tried to learn an instrument knows, the first thing you do is try to learn your favorite songs — whatever they may be.
But, early on, this can be counterproductive and frustrating. While you may be able to finger the chords, what you play obviously never quite sounds like what you’re hearing. Instead, WildChords’s game levels are intended to be akin to brief — and enjoyable — homework assignments.
The Ovelin founders said that the motivation for WildChords came from their own personal experience — they too are both instrument education drop-outs. The main reason that so many people drop out early in the process, they believe, is a matter of motivation. Although both are engineers, neither had music backgrounds, so they focused on building an app from the user’s perspective that minimizes the frustration and ups the addictiveness. Once they had a roadmap, they brought in a team of signal processing experts, music teachers, and game developers to round out the team.
And so far, it’s worked out well, especially considering the startup is bootstrapped and running on a small grant it received from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. In fact, a week ago, Ovelin won the “Best Game” at the European Learning Game Competition. And, today, Ovelin will be presenting at the “Startup Sauna Demo Day” at Aalto Venture Garage (which I’m told is in essence the “Y Combinator of the Nordics and Baltics”), where the team will be courting investors.
Though WildChords will be available only for guitar and the iPad, the startup plans to add a full suite of instruments to its roster and to go cross-platform with its mobile apps as it goes.
Ovelin is also announcing a competition to submit the best voice-over for WildChord’s sound effects — particularly for the game’s monkey character. Whoever produces the best monkey sound wins a WildChord starter set. Check it out on the landing page here.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
When Oneforty launched two years ago as an app store for Twitter, the startup undoubtedly filled a hole in the media platform. The brainchild of Laura Fitton, the startup provides a comprehensive e-commerce marketplace where third-party developers on the Twitter platform can sell their apps. The idea was such a hit in the Twitter ecosystem that rumors swirled that Twitter was potentially interested in buying Oneforty.
But interestingly, after nearly two years, Oneforty has found a specific target market for its products—business users. As more businesses, both enterprise, large and small, look to incorporate social media into their marketing and PR efforts, these companies are also looking to spend money on expertise, services and tools for these strategies. And Oneforty has now become a destination for business users.
Social media consultants have already built out 700+ guides on the site to help businesses tackle all things social media, including Twitter and Facebook. Fitton tells us that many businesses are confused about social and are spending money on business expertise, services and tools.
She adds that the “social business” market opportunity is huge and the site has turned partly into a consultancy of sorts for businesses who want to incorporate social elements into their workflow or marketing efforts. Today, the company is publicly rolling out its B2B platform on social business, which includes information on how to invest a budget, what other companies are doing and more. Other content includes a buyers guide for brands looking to adopt social media software and reviews of social media tools.
Fitton assures us that the App Store is still thriving, but that this focus makes sense for Onforty longterm. Inn fact, new business user signups have grown 5 times since October. And the company plans to roll out additional comparison tools, case studies, webinars and events.
Of course the elephant in the room is that one of the reasons Oneforty has shifted strategy is that businesses will actually pay for tools and services, as opposed to consumers who can simply download free apps to suit their needs. As for funding, Fitton says the company has no immediate plans to raise another round.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch