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Motorola does the unthinkable and unveils gadget concepts

moto-2-of-5 The gadget world is stale and boring now. Phones look the same. Action cameras copy GoPro, headphone companies copy Beats. Most electronic companies are overly cautious about going to far. Vaporware can kill momentum. Yet today Motorola threw its arms in the Spanish air and said fuck it. During its Mobile World Congress press event, the company basically said here are some products we might… Read More
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Live from Samsung’s 2017 MWC press conference

mwc-2017-pc_main A very happy Mobile World Congress to you and yours. The world’s largest smartphone show is still a couple of days from its official kick off, but there’s plenty of news to be had this weekend. Samsung will be taking the stage tonight in Barcelona to show off – well, not the Galaxy S8. That much we seemingly know for sure. The company announced a few weeks back that… Read More
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Snapchat's earliest employees: Where are they now? (SNAP)

early Snapchat photos

In the last five years, Snapchat has gone from a sexting app built in a Stanford dorm to a business that could soon be worth $22 billion on the public market.

Who are the early employees who’ve helped make the disappearing messaging app such a hit?

Back in 2013, Business Insider rounded up 20 of Snapchat’s earliest employees. Many of them were Stanford classmates of founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.

We’re revisiting the list now that Snapchat is used by 158 million people each day and its parent company Snap Inc. is about to go public.

Here are some of the earliest employees at Snapchat, and what they’re doing now:

SEE ALSO: The rise of Snapchat from a sexting app by Stanford frat bros to a $3 billion IPO

DON’T MISS: Meet the power players who help Evan Spiegel run Snap Inc.

David Kravitz was one of the first two hires at Snapchat.

Where he worked before: Google intern, software engineer at Raunk

Date joined Snapchat: June 2012

Current role at Snapchat: Software Engineer

Attended: Stanford University (class of 2012)

Its second hire, Daniel Smith, now calls himself “Captain Captcha” at Snapchat.

Where he worked before: Software engineer at Raunk

Date joined Snapchat: June 2012

Current role at Snapchat: “Captain Captcha” — Smith builds the Android app for Snapchat

Attended: Stanford University (class of 2012)

Timothy Sehn joined Snapchat in 2013, and now he leads all engineering.


Where he worked before: Amazon. Sehn was a director there who was employed by Amazon for a decade.

Date joined Snapchat: September 2013

Current role at Snapchat: Senior VP of Engineering

Attended: University of Waterloo

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Amazon just recruited Motorola for its war with Google over the future of computing (AMZN, GOOG)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

BARCELONA, Spain — There’s a war raging between Google and Amazon over what could be the next major computing platform: voice-controlled AI assistants.

The two companies each have competing assistants, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, and they’re both rushing to get them into as many devices as possible. On Sunday, Amazon announced that it has recruited a useful ally for that mission: Motorola.

Virtual assistants are controlled using only your voice. You can tell them to find you information on a certain subject, check your calendar, or control your (smart) home. It’s still early days, but Amazon and Google are betting that there’s huge potential as the tech continues to develop.

Initially, these assistants were kept exclusive to the companies’ own devices: Alexa was only on the Echo smart-home hub, while Google Assistant could only be found in the Google Home hub and the Google Pixel smartphone. But more recently, third-party hardware manufacturers have been brought onboard.

But more recently, Google and Amazon have brought third-party hardware manufacturers on-board.

Take Google, which on Sunday announced that its Google Assistant will become available for all Android phones, regardless of manufacturer, running Android 6.0 or newer. And at a press conference in Barcelona, Spain ahead of the Mobile World Congress conference on Sunday, Lenovo-owned Motorola also announced that it is partnering with Amazon to bring Alexa to its smartphones.

amazon echoInitially, Motorola’s partnership with Amazon is limited to the Moto Z, a modular phone that Motorola launched last year that lets users attach hardware add-ons to the phone to customize it (think bigger speakers, better camera, etc.). Amazon is creating an Alexa mod that users can attach to their smartphones to integrate the virtual assistant.

But further down the line, Motorola said it plans to introduce Alexa to more of its smartphones — with no hardware add-on required.

We’re light on details right now; a Motorola employee at the event declined to provide more detail to Business Insider on timings and the phones that will be eligible. This isn’t the first time we’re seeing an Alexa-Android manufacturer partnership; in January Huawei announced that it was adding Amazon to its Mate 9 smartphone.

But this is a trend that will be of real concern to Google. Some of the biggest smartphone makers in the world — companies Google has worked with for years — are turning to its competitor to integrate the next potentially revolutionary technology.

And as the two companies continue to push their rival virtual assistants into every car, smartwatch, and fridge they can find, this war is only going to get more intense.

SEE ALSO: Amazon’s Echo is building a coffin that’s custom-made for Google

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: These popular devices keep a recording of everything you ask them — here’s how to find it and delete it

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Samsung will announce the Galaxy S8 on March 29

Samsung’s next major smartphone is coming in a little over a month.

On Sunday the company sent invitations to the press for an event in New York City where it will announce the Galaxy S8, its first major product since the Galaxy Note 7 debacle last year. The event takes place Wednesday, March 29.

Here’s a look at the invitation, which teases the new phone:

samsung galaxy s8 invitation

There’s a lot of pressure on Samsung to nail the Galaxy S8 launch following the embarrassing Galaxy Note 7 explosions last year. Samsung released the findings of an investigation last month that looked into what caused some Note 7s to overheat and explode. The company promised to perform rigorous battery tests on all future products.

We’ve already heard a bunch of rumors about the Galaxy S8. The phone is said to have a nearly borderless screen (the teaser image above appears to confirm that rumor) and no home button. It will also have a new digital assistant based on Viv, a startup founded by the makers of Siri that Samsung bought last year. We’ve rounded up the rest of the Galaxy S8 rumors for you right here.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 announcement will take place at Lincoln Center in New York at 11 a.m. Eastern. Business Insider will be there with live coverage.

SEE ALSO: Samsung is making a new Android tablet at the worst possible time

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy S8 — Samsung’s most important phone

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Mobile World Congress 2017: Samsung announces the Galaxy Book with Windows 10

Today at Mobile World Congress, Samsung announced an expanded strategic partnership with Microsoft that will help professionals use digital technology to work anywhere, with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Book powered by Windows 10 and improvements to Samsung Flow.

The Samsung Galaxy Book with Windows 10

To kick off the expanded strategic partnership, Samsung and Microsoft worked together to design the Samsung Galaxy Book, a new premium 2-in-1 designed with the mobile enterprise customer in mind. Built with Windows 10, the Samsung Galaxy Book weighs less than two pounds and provides easy access to the full desktop Microsoft Office experience in an ultra-portable 2-in-1 design that delivers unmatched productivity for the professional on-the-go. The 12-inch touchscreen enables you to easily use Windows Ink or markup and draw on websites in Microsoft Edge, and the S Pen is equipped with the tilt SDK for Windows Ink, providing artists with advanced shading and brushstrokes. The Galaxy Book also allows you to use your voice to talk to Cortana, your personal digital assistant, comes with a 7th generation Intel Core processor and provides up to 10 hours of battery life.

The newly improved Samsung Flow with Windows 10

Creating a complete ecosystem that allows simple communication between devices is a key component to a successful mobile transformation. Samsung improved Samsung Flow with Microsoft on the Galaxy Book. Samsung Flow allows customers to sync their Galaxy smartphone with the Galaxy Book for convenient login and Wi-Fi connection through the smartphone’s mobile hotspot when a data connection is not available, and the Samsung Flow app will display notifications from your smartphone.

With the Samsung Galaxy Book and improved Samsung Flow, Samsung continues to build great new Windows 10 devices designed for you be productive wherever you are.

*Cortana available in select markets

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Watch Samsung’s MWC conference live right here

shutterstock samsung Samsung’s press conference at MWC in Barcelona is happening today. The conference starts at 7 PM CET (6 PM GMT, 1 PM EST, 10 AM PST). You can also check out our liveblog to get our commentary on Samsung’s news.
Last year, the company unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. While Samsung said that the Galaxy S8 isn’t just ready yet, you can still expect a bunch of new… Read More

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Motorola picks Amazon’s Alexa as its voice assistant

moto-2-of-1-2 From ‘Hey Alexa’ to Hello Moto, Motorola has announced a partnership with ecommerce giant Amazon that will see the latter’s voice assistant tech embedded natively into most of Motorola’s devices in future. “Later this year will see deep integration of Alexa on Motorola smartphones with Alexa wake-up words. There won’t be any keys to press, no screen to… Read More

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Nokia 3310 returns as HMD reimagines a classic (and Snake)

nokia-3310-2-of-2 HMD hopes that its licensing of the Nokia brand brings in the punters for what might otherwise be viewed as three very vanilla Android phones, but at the same time it’s also announcing another new handset that plays into another side of its brand strategy. Today, it unveiled the 3310, a small “candy bar” feature phone that is a reimagining of one of the classic Nokia… Read More

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This Volkswagen Atlas concept SUV is built for weekends

VW Atlas Weekender

In the United States, Volkswagen has a major problem that goes beyond its emissions-cheating scandal. As Business Insider’s Ben Zhang has noted, VW is struggling to sell to Americans.

“Through November, the Volkswagen brand managed to move just 286,000 cars — down 10% over last year while representing a minuscule 1.8% share of the US auto market,” he recently reported. “All the while in Europe and Asia, VW is one of the most competitive brands in the market.”

The solution is SUVs. But not just any SUV — VW already sells two in the US, the Tiguan and the Touareg. What the automaker really needs is a large SUV. Enter the Atlas.

In December, the new vehicle entered production at the company’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “With three rows of seats and room for seven, the Atlas is expected to be a savior for VW’s struggling US business,” Zhang wrote.

The Atlas is expected to arrive later this year. Until then, the task that VW faces is to drum up enthusiasm for the vehicle is a US market where seven-passenger SUVs are available in abundance from numerous other carmakers.

Working for the weekend

Enter the “Weekend Edition” of the Atlas — a special concept treatment of an SUV that isn’t even on sale yet. (The vehicle will be at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, which runs from Feb. 11-20).

“The Weekend Edition concept is based on an SEL Premium model, equipped with a 3.6-liter [six-cylinder] engine making 276 horsepower and an eight-speed transmission, paired with Volkswagen’s advanced … all-wheel drive with Drive Mode Select,” VW said in a statement.

“Riding on 18-inch Prisma wheels finished in a custom anthracite gray, the Atlas Weekend Edition features a modern variation of the pop-up roof—the Urban Loader cargo box,” VW added.

“When empty, the Urban Loader offers a sleek, minimized appearance; when needed for hauling, it can expand to a 17.7 cubic-foot container. In addition, the Weekend Edition features base carrier bars for attaching accessories for skis, snowboards, kayaks or bikes. Reaching the extra roof storage or helping small children into the vehicle is easy with practical side steps.”

Let take a closer look:

SEE ALSO: Why VW’s new Atlas SUV will work wonders for its US business

“Volkswagen enthusiasts may appreciate the throwback to the ‘Weekender’ packages offered on the classic Vanagon and Eurovan pop-up camper models,” VW said, evoking the spontaneous, get-away-from-it-all ethos that defined the brand as youthful and rebellious in decades past.

The Urban Loader cargo box can “expand to a 17.7 cubic-foot container,” VW said. This solves the problem of seven-passenger SUVs, which by adding a third row can give up some space.

Deployed! The design appears to be relatively aerodynamic.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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