39 Million US Adults Now Own A Voice-activated Smart Speaker: Study

39 million US adults now own a voice-activated smart speaker: Study CNBC
  • The Ranger comes in three trim levels: entry-level XL, mid-level XLT, and the high-level Lariat trim.
  • Ford will begin production on the truck in late 2018 at Ford's Michigan assembly plant.
  • One in six adults in the United States own voice-activated smart speakers, according to research.
  • The Smart Audio Report, which is based on data from NPR and Edison Research, said Monday that around 39 million U.S.

Airbnb Now Lets Users Pay Less Up Front For Bookings

Airbnb now lets users pay less up front for bookingsJordan Crook / TechCrunch
  • Airbnb has today announced a new feature that will help users manage their payments on the platform.
  • This comes on the heels of another payments feature that lets group travelers split payments at the time of booking.
  • Airbnb said that, during testing of the Pay Less Up Front feature, 40 percent of guests chose to go with that option and chose higher-value bookings.
  • Airbnb determines the amount that can be paid up front and the amount that is due a few days before check-in, which the company says is usually 50 percent.

Bitcoin, Ethereum And Almost Every Other Cryptocurrency Is Plunging

Bitcoin, Ethereum and almost every other cryptocurrency is plungingJon Russell / TechCrunch
  • The price of bitcoin slumped by 15 percent to drop below $12,000 for the first time since December 4.
  • The price drop is having a huge impact. According to Coinmarketcap.com, a site that is quickly becoming the go-to price checker, just one of the top 100 highest valued cryptocurrencies isn’t in the red over the past 24 hours.
  • It’s a far cry from when bitcoin hit a record of close to $20,000 exactly a month ago on December 16.
  • Despite the drop, Ethereum, Ripple and the rest of the internet’s alt coins have largely fared worse than bitcoin.

China Reportedly Plans To Block Foreign Cryptocurrency Exchanges

China reportedly plans to block foreign cryptocurrency exchanges Abhimanyu Ghoshal / The Next Web
  • Bloomberg reports that China is cracking down hard on cryptocurrency activity in the country by plotting to block domestic access to foreign exchanges and platforms that allow for centralized trading.
  • That’s worrying news for crypto enthusiasts in China, who have already seen local exchanges being shut down entirely towards the end of 2017.
  • According to Bloomberg’s sources, peer-to-peer transactions won’t be policed, but any organizations that facilitate market-making, settlement, and clearing services for centralized trading will be targeted by local authorities.
  • The news follows reports and clarifications about South Korea banning local exchanges there; regulators have confirmed that they won’t block domestic cryptocurrency trading, but will investigate tax evasion and KYC protocols within these organizations.

OnePlus Customers Reporting Credit Card Fraud After Purchasing Phones

OnePlus customers reporting credit card fraud after purchasing phonesEric Abent / SlashGear
  • There’s potentially bad news cropping up for OnePlus this morning, as some users are reporting that their credit cards have been compromised after making a purchase on the OnePlus website.
  • That support thread hosts a poll that asks readers to say whether or not their credit cards were breached after purchasing their OnePlus phone.
  • In a separate statement posted to those same OnePlus support forums, the company acknowledges these claims and says it has launched an investigation into them.
  • In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to check your credit card statements for fraudulent purchases if you’ve used those cards to purchase something from the OnePlus website.

VISA Signatures Will Soon Be Optional As Chip Takes Over

VISA signatures will soon be optional as chip takes overBrittany A. Roston / SlashGear
  • Back in October, MasterCard announced that it will eliminate signatures for card holders starting in 2018.
  • The EMV chip, more commonly referred to among merchants and consumers as simply “the chip,” is the small square-shaped, gold-colored contact point on the end of your credit and debit cards.
  • Though the chip was still relatively uncommon a couple years ago, most merchants have upgraded their systems to support the chip.
  • In a statement released today, VISA said that starting in April, all EMV merchants located in North America will have the option — rather than requirement — to get signatures from customers.

SoftBank Considers IPO For Wireless Business, Reportedly Seeking $18 Billion

SoftBank considers IPO for wireless business, reportedly seeking $18 billionReuters / VentureBeat - 6 mins ago
  • SoftBank Group said on Monday it was considering listing its Japanese wireless business – a move that could reportedly raise $18 billion and would accelerate the conglomerate’s transformation into one of the world’s biggest tech investors.
  • A spin-off – potentially the biggest IPO by a Japanese company in nearly two decades – would give the unit more autonomy and help investors value the business as well as its parent which has myriad holdings across the tech industry.
  • SoftBank Group is aiming to sell about 30 percent of SoftBank Corp, Japan’s No.
  • “It makes sense to spin off the mobile-phone business using a public offering that would leave SoftBank in control and provide SoftBank with more cash to pursue its strategy of investing in companies with potentially high growth prospects,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

TAG Heuer Unveils $197,000 Android Smartwatch

TAG Heuer unveils $197,000 Android smartwatchZoey Chong / CNET - 32 mins ago
  • The world's most expensive smartwatch comes studded with 589 diamonds.
  • If you think diamond rings are overdone but still have a thing for those massive shiny stones, what about a diamond-studded watch?TAG Heuer added 589 baguette-size diamonds (that's 23.35 carats worth of precious stone) to its latest smartwatch, which it showed off at this week's Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Geneve.
  • It's not the first time a company has tried to put diamonds on our gadgets.

Researchers Find That One Person Likely Drove Bitcoin From $150 To $1,000

Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000John Biggs / TechCrunch - 1 hour ago
  • Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a fascinating paper on Bitcoin price manipulation.
  • To many it’s been obvious that the Bitcoin markets are, at the very least, being manipulated by one or two big players.
  • The team found that many instances of price manipulation happened simply because the market was very thin for various cryptocurrencies including early Bitcoin.
  • The manipulation happened primarily via two bots, Markus and Willy, that seemed to be performing valid trades but did not actually own the bitcoin they were using.

Danish Police Charge 1,000 Youths For Sharing Underage Sex Video

Danish police charge 1,000 youths for sharing underage sex videoTimothy B. Lee / Ars Technica - 2 hours ago
  • Over 1,000 young people are facing charges in Denmark after allegedly sharing two sexually explicit videos and a photograph involving underage subjects on Facebook Messenger.
  • The sharing occurred in late 2017 and depicted a sexual encounter between two 15-year-olds.
  • “We want to give out a warning to young people: think about what you’re doing," said Flemming Kjærside of Denmark's National Cyber Crime Center in a statement. "But they possibly do not know that it is illegal and that they can be convicted for distributing child pornography."

Twitter Says No, Hundreds Of Twitter Employees Are Not Reading Your DMs

Twitter Says No, Hundreds Of Twitter Employees Are Not Reading Your DMsCharlie Warzel / BuzzFeed - 2 hours ago
  • On Monday, conservative activist and filmmaker James O'Keefe published undercover footage of Twitter engineers alleging the social network has hundreds of employees reading "everything you post online" — including direct messages.But according to Twitter, these claims are factually incorrect and misleadingly portrayed by O'Keefe's media organization Project Veritas.
  • The undercover video shows Twitter engineer Clay Haynes telling a Project Veritas activist that hundreds of employees have seemingly unrestricted access to Twitter users' private data.
  • A former senior Twitter employee echoed the company's comment, observing that the claims in Monday's Project Veritas video were "technically accurate to a degree, but exaggerated for effect by drunk idiots."

AngelList Launches Syndicates In India

AngelList launches Syndicates in IndiaJon Russell / TechCrunch - 3 hours ago
  • AngelList has expanded its syndicates program to India in the latest overseas move for the US crowdfunding platform.
  • The launch comes some 18 months after we reported that AngelList had hired Utsav Somani to launch the service and develop its business generally in India, where it also offers its hiring product.
  • Syndicates was launched in the US in 2013 with the purpose of giving experienced early-stage investors more spending potential and allowing those with less experience to join them to put money into promising early-stage companies.
  • Available in the US, Canada, the UK and now India, AngelList said Syndicates have raised $705 million from more than 1,870 startups.

Blockchain Could Help Small Studios Compete In Multiplayer Game Development

Blockchain could help small studios compete in multiplayer game developmentAurangzeb A. Durrani / VentureBeat - 4 hours ago
  • Multiplayer video games have enjoyed increased popularity ever since two people could play in split-screen mode.
  • Developers must account for a lengthy list of incidentals when supporting a high volume of players from around the world, and they don’t come cheap.
  • Historically, big-budget game developers have been the impetus behind most technological advances.
  • This shift could benefit independent game developers that were unable to compete with their larger brethren.

Alibaba Neural Network Defeats Human In Global Reading Test

Alibaba neural network defeats human in global reading test ZDNet - 5 hours ago
  • Alibaba says its deep neural network model has outscored humans in a global reading test, paving the way for the underlying technology to reduce the need for human input.
  • The Chinese tech giant's research unit, Institute of Data Science of Technologies (IDST), said it had developed a deep-learning model that attained a score of 82.44 in Exact Match on the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (Squad).
  • Alibaba said its neural network model was based on the Hierarchical Attention Network, which it explained would read "from paragraphs to sentences to words" to identify phases that could hold potential answers.
  • Commenting on the Squad score, Alibaba IDST's chief scientist of natural language processing Si Luo, said: "That means objective questions such as 'what causes rain' can now be answered with high accuracy by machines.

One Year Old Pony.ai Raises $112 Million Series A To Build Autonomous Car Future

One year old Pony.ai raises $112 million Series A to build autonomous car futureDanny Crichton / TechCrunch - 8 hours ago
  • So for Pony.ai, which was founded a little more than a year ago in late 2016 by James Peng and Tiancheng Lou, the company decided to go crazy big, announcing today that it has closed on an $112 million Series A venture capital round to pursue their vision of a complete autonomous car solution, putting them almost instantly into the upper strata of competitors in the space.
  • The round was led by Morningside Venture Capital and Legend Capital, both large, early-stage, China-focused venture funds.
  • Peng first got introduced to autonomous cars while working at Baidu, the Chinese search engine.
  • The two were both deeply excited about the future of autonomous cars, but the speed of execution at these large tech giants was much slower than they were willing to move.

Millions Of People Installed Infected Apps That Criminals Could Use To ‘wreak Havoc’ On Smartphones

Millions of people installed infected apps that criminals could use to ‘wreak havoc’ on smartphonesAatif Sulleyman / The Independent - 9 hours ago
  • They could cause pornographic ads to appear, attempt to scare users into downloading harmful software, and trick them into signing up for expensive premium services

VC Investment In Europe Surged 26.9% In 2017, Thanks To U.K. Startups’ Mega-rounds

VC investment in Europe surged 26.9% in 2017, thanks to U.K. startups’ mega-roundsChris O'Brien / VentureBeat - 10 hours ago
  • Venture capital investment in Europe posted a strong recovery in 2017, led by late-stage U.K.
  • According to the Dow Jones VentureSource’s 4Q’17 Europe Venture Capital released today, European startups raised $17.52 billion in 2017, up from $13.81 billion in 2016.
  • After the U.K., French startups ranked second by number of deals with 75 and third in amount raised with $410.06 million.
  • Meanwhile, European venture capital funds raised $11.14 billion, down just slightly from $11.24 billion in 2016.

Toyota To Offer CarPlay In Select 2019 Vehicles In United States, Including All-New Avalon

Toyota to Offer CarPlay in Select 2019 Vehicles in United States, Including All-New AvalonJoe Rossignol / MacRumors - 11 hours ago
  • In addition to the Avalon, Toyota plans to expand CarPlay compatibility to its other 2019 model year vehicles and beyond with its Entune 3.0 multimedia system, according to Toyota spokesperson Brian Lyons.
  • Apple periodically updates a list of over 200 vehicle makes and models available with CarPlay on its website.

Developing Countries Need To Wake Up To The Risks Of New Tech

Developing countries need to wake up to the risks of new tech The Conversation / The Next Web - 12 hours ago
  • Technological advances associated with the fourth industrial revolution – including artificial intelligence – allow the automation of an increasingly wide array of processes in increasingly interactive and sophisticated ways.
  • But the new technologies also involve important risks, which have special significance in developing countries.
  • Three of these inter-related risks are worsening unemployment, increasing concentration of economic power and wealth, and the spread of biases in influential algorithms.
  • The concern that new technologies – especially artificial intelligence – will lead to widespread job losses has been widely discussed.

Report Says No Major MacBook Pro Upgrade Is Coming This Year

Report says no major MacBook Pro upgrade is coming this yearChris Smith / BGR - 13 hours ago
  • Apple updated the MacBook Pro line less than two years ago, so we shouldn’t expect any design updates any time soon.
  • While that may happen down the road, it looks like no significant MacBook Pro updates are planned for 2018, if a new report on Monday morning is to be believed.
  • Apple will likely release 2018 models with refreshed components, which is what Apple does at minimum every year.
  • Instead, the report notes that Apple has assigned more MacBook orders to Foxconn this year, although Quanta will still make most of 2018 MacBooks.

Cheetah Mobile CEO Explains Why He Hired 200 AI Engineers In China

Cheetah Mobile CEO explains why he hired 200 AI engineers in ChinaDean Takahashi / VentureBeat - 14 hours ago
  • Sheng Fu founded Cheetah Mobile in 2010, and it found a business making security apps such as Security Master for smartphones.
  • I met with Fu when the company opened its Silicon Valley office in 2016, and we met once again at CES 2018, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week.
  • The company said its apps have been downloaded 4 billion times, and it has 580 million monthly active users.
  • Sheng Fu: The strategy for Cheetah Mobile for the next five to 10 years is to focus on AI and robotics.