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AR startup Ubiquity6 lands $27M Series B to build a more user-friendly augmented reality

While nearly every tech giant has publicly proclaimed augmented reality the next frontier to conquer, product movement has been relatively slow as the companies’ aim to nail very base issues in consumer-friendly ways has proven difficult. Ubiquity6 is one of a handful of startups aiming to tackle the backlog of backend features currently missing from most AR experiences available today. The fast-growing company is looking to build tools that will essentially enable users to create a cloud-based AR copy of the physical world and enable persistent, dynamic multiplayer AR experiences as a result. Today, the startup announced that it has closed a $27 million Series B led by Benchmark and Index Ventures. The company has raised over $37 million to date with plenty of high-profile VC firms amongst its investor list including Google’s Gradient Ventures, First Round, and KPCB — where Ubiquity6’s CEO Anjney Midha previously helped run a small fund. With this raise, Benchmark GP Mitch Lasky will be joining the Ubiquity6 board. Multiplayer AR toolsets have been a trend of the year as Google, Apple and a host of other startups have looked to focus on how two or more users can sync their maps of the world in the most seamless way possible. A big focus of the Ubiquity6’s efforts have been on building 3D mesh maps of entire public areas so that that the onboarding process just naturally grows to be instantaneous. This strategy works great for museums and much less well for your living room, but Ubiquity6 is hoping that the experiences available in their app can have episodic utility that ties them closely with events at public geographic locations. In more ways than one, the startup seems to be taking a page from Snapchat in their approach to AR but also hopes to leapfrog Snap’s efforts by moving harder and faster into the hard AR tech that the chat app has largely sidestepped. The company’s app, which has yet to launch, has a bit of a carousel-like app selector which can boot up separate AR experiences much like one would switch through Snapchat Lenses.

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Feature.fm offers free “pre-save” tool for upcoming releases on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer

In an age where people stream music instead of buying it, how do you build something equivalent to a pre-order campaign for upcoming releases? The answer is to create a “pre-save” campaign, akin to a landing page where fans can authorise you to automatically add a new song, EP or album to their steaming library or playlist of their choice as soon as it becomes available. However, pre-save tools for Spotify — if you even knew they existed — are often perceived as expensive and solely for use at major labels or established music marketing companies. Now music marketing and technology startup Feature.fm wants to change that with its “Ultimate Pre-Save,’ a free tool for artists or labels of any size. Better yet, the Ultimate Pre-Save tool also supports Apple’s newly launched “Pre-Add” feature, which works in a similar way to a Spotify pre-save. Deezer’s version of pre-save is supported too. The set up process is simple. You register with Feature.fm as either an individual artist or label, select the Ultimate Pre-Save tool and click on create new pre-save. Next you are required to give the work a launch date and tell it which of the three services you plan to launch on. You then need to add a title, an image, preview link, and make any changes to the standard text. Later on, once you know the final URL for your new release on each respective service, you add that too.

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Spotify’s new tool helps artists and labels reach its playlist editors

Spotify wants give artists and labels and easier way to submit their new music for playlist consideration. The streaming service this morning launched a feature, still in beta, that allows any artists with a Spotify for Artists account or labels using Spotify Analytics to share unreleased tracks directly with Spotify’s team of over 100 editors worldwide. The team is responsible for programming Spotify’s playlists – the lists on which a new track’s inclusion could become a make or break point for an emerging artist, and are a key part of album promotion. The company says that, today, more than 75,000 artists are featured on its editorial playlists every week, plus another 150,000 on its flagship playlist, Discover Weekly. However, it hasn’t always been clear how to reach the editorial team to suggest music. These days, artists and labels ask for intros to playlists editors, believing that getting to the right person will give them an edge in having their tracks selected for a playlist. The new submissions feature aims to change this process, while also driving artists and labels to use Spotify’s own software for managing profiles and tracking their stats on the service. Spotify also stresses that submissions should include other data, not just the song itself. It wants artists and labels to notate things like the genre, mood and other data, including things like the instruments used, whether it’s a cover, the culture the song belongs to, and more. This data will be examined in addition to data Spotify already knows about the artist – like what else their fans listen to, what other playlists their music appears on, and more. This information is used by editors who will search across the submissions to find new tracks to add to playlists, and the info will be taken into account as Spotify programs its recommendations as an added bonus. For example, if the submission is tagged and sent in seven days in advance, the selected song will automatically appear in every one of the artist’s followers’ Release Radar playlists, says Spotify. The company also took the time in its announcement this morning to clarify that no one can pay to be added to Spotify’s playlists – something that may seem to be an option, given the over-the-top Drake promotion on the service recently that had some customers demanding refunds for what felt like an advertisement. It gave the appearance of an artist throwing money at Spotify in exchange for playlist inclusion

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Spotify users push back at the over-the-top Drake promotion

Some Spotify users were so annoyed by the recent Drake promotion that they asked for and were granted refunds, according to a report from Billboard . The streaming service had heavily promoted the artist’s latest album, “Scorpion,” even using his image on playlists that didn’t even contain his music, like “Massive Dance Hits,” “Best of British” and “Happy Pop Hits,” for example. The promotion, dubbed “Scorpion SZN,” was first-ever global artist takeover of Spotify’s service and the first time an artist took over multiple Spotify playlists on the same day. While it’s not uncommon for artists to receive promotion on Spotify, some felt that the Drake promotion had gone too far – the album and Drake’s image were everywhere in sections like Browse and Playlists. One Reddit user shared how they were able to obtain a refund from customer service, and that post soon went viral. The screenshot of their chat with the support rep has, to date, been viewed nearly 12,000 times. That transcript doesn’t indicate any official policy on Spotify’s part here, but was instead the efforts of a customer service rep helping retaining an individual’s business. However, a few other people then tried similar tactics, and were also able to get refunds, they said. Spotify isn’t officially commenting on the pushback from users, but Billboard claims the number of refunds were minimal. It’s clear that the streaming service noticed the complaints, however, as it was responding to users on Twitter to clarify that things would soon be back to normal. Hey there! We're celebrating Drake's new album and his spot as most streamed artist in the world right now. The Browse section and Playlists will be back to normal soon /JX — SpotifyCares (@SpotifyCares) July 1, 2018 While Spotify has never refunded customers unhappy over a promotion – the larger news here is not the financial loss of those refunds, or even that they happened at all, but rather the damage this has done to Spotify’s reputation. For those who complained, the problem wasn’t just that they weren’t Drake fans (though that’s obviously a part of it), but rather that they felt they were viewing advertisements when they were paying for a Premium, ad-free version of Spotify’s service.

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Ars Asks: Are your company’s IT policies flexible, or nonsensical?

Enlarge / Artist's rendition of a mobile device exceeding expectations. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty / NASA) From time to time, Ars performs surveys to help us better understand our audience's attitudes and preferences about various things—and this is one of those times. If you're an IT decision-maker at your company, we would be grateful if you'd take a few minutes and let us know your thoughts . Here at Ars, we're lucky to have one of the most skilled and technically adept audiences of just about any tech news publication in existence: that's you fine folks! A huge number of you are what the industry calls "ITDMs," or "IT decision-makers"—that most sought-after demographic that decides (or helps decide) whose applications and hardware your employers will end up buying. In fact, no small number of the Ars staff (me included) were ITDMs themselves in a past life, and it's a role we well understand. ITDMs represent a huge cross-section of employees stretching from system administrators to "C-suite" company officers—it's a role that is often stressful and typically thankless, and it more often than not requires dealing with designed-by-committee requirements that can seem contradictory or insane. Nonetheless, the ITDM role is one around which a whole company can pivot, as the choices ITDMs make directly affect the tools and processes a company uses to generate its revenue. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Your iPhone’s NFC Chip May Soon Let You Unlock Doors – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Your iPhone's NFC Chip May Soon Let You Unlock Doors Ubergizmo There's not much that you can do with the NFC chip in your iPhone currently aside from making purchases through Apple Pay. However, if a new report is to be believed, Apple will soon let users do much more with the NFC chip inside their iPhones. and more »

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Apple Will Now Report Government Requests For App Removal – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Apple Will Now Report Government Requests For App Removal Ubergizmo Apple publishes transparency reports twice every year to highlight the number of account takedown requests that it received during the previous six months. The company has now released its first such report for the year which was accompanied by a ... and more »

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