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Apple bets $600 million on improving Apple Watch, iPhone battery life

Enlarge / The iPhone X in space gray (left) compared to the iPhone XS in gold (right). You can barely tell the difference from this angle. (credit: Samuel Axon) Apple struck a huge deal that will push its chip-making ambitions forward. The tech giant agreed to pay $600 million in total to Dialog Semiconductor , a UK-based chipmaker that has been working with Apple since the first iPhones came out. That large amount of money will go toward two things: $300 million in cash pays for a portion of Dialog's company, including licensing power-management technologies, assets, and more than 300 employees who will now work for Apple. The company will pay the remaining $300 million to Dialog in advance for products to come out within the next three years. "Dialog has deep expertise in chip development, and we are thrilled to have this talented group of engineers who’ve long supported our products now working directly for Apple," Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies, said in a statement . “Our relationship with Dialog goes all the way back to the early iPhones, and we look forward to continuing this long-standing relationship with them.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Altru raises $1.3M to improve recruiting with employee videos

Marketers are increasingly looking for social media celebrities and influencers who can promote their products with more authenticity (or at least, the appearance of authenticity) than a traditional ad. So Altru CEO Alykhan Rehmatullah wondered: Why can’t businesses do something similar with recruiting? And that’s what Altru is trying to accomplish, powering a page on a company’s website that highlights videos from real employees answering questions that potential hires might be asking. The videos are searchable (thanks to Altru’s transcriptions), and they also can be shared on social media. The startup was part of the recent winter batch at Techstars NYC , and it’s already working with companies like L’Oréal, Dell and Unilever. Today, Altru is announcing that it’s raised $1.3 million in new funding led by Birchmere Ventures. Rehmatullah contrasted Altru’s approach with Glassdoor, which he said features “more polarized” content (since it’s usually employees with really good or really bad experiences who want to write reviews) and where companies are often forced to “play defense.” On Altru, on the other hand, employers can take the informal conversations that often take place when someone’s deciding whether to accept a job and turn them into an online recruiting tool. Over time, Rehmatullah said the platform could expand beyond recruiting to areas like on-boarding new employees. Since these videos are posted to the company website, with the employees’ name and face attached, they may not always feel comfortable being completely honest, particularly about a company’s flaws. But at least it’s a message coming from a regular person, not the corporate-speak of a recruiter or manager. Rehmatullah acknowledged that there’s usually “an educational process” involved in making employers more comfortable with this kind of content. “These conversations are already happening outside your organization,” he said. “In the long-term, candidates expect more authenticity, more transparency, more true experiences.”

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Apple nears a $1 trillion market cap as it clears another quarter ahead of expectations

Apple is inching closer and closer to becoming a $1 trillion company today after posting third quarter results that beat out what analysts were expecting and bumping the stock another few percentage points — which, by Apple standards, is tens of billions of dollars. The company’s stock is up around 2.5% this afternoon after the report, which at a prior market close with a market cap of around $935 billion, is adding nearly another $20-plus billion to its market cap. A few quarters ago we were talking about how Apple was in shooting distance of that $1 trillion mark, but now it seems more and more like Apple will  actually hit it. Apple is headed into its most important few quarters as we hit the back half of the year, with its usual new lineup of iPhones and other products and its accompanying critical holiday quarter. Here’s a quick breakdown of the numbers: Revenue:   $53.3 billion, up 17% year-over-year compared to analyst expectations of $52.34 billion. Earnings : $2.34 per share compared to analyst estimates of $2.18 per share. iPhones : 41.3 million, up 1% year-over-year though revenue on the iPhone line was up 20% year-over-year. Analysts expected 41.79 million iphones sold. iPhone average selling price : $724 iPads : 11.55 million, up 1% year-over-year but ahead of analyst expectations of 10.3 million. Macs : 3.7 million, down 13% year-over-year and behind analyst expectations Services : $9.6 billion, up 31% year-over-year. Other products : $3.7 billion, up 37% year-over-year.

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Apple discontinues its photo printing service

Today, 9to5Mac discovered that Apple is discontinuing its Photo Print Products service. For those who used it, Photo Print Products was a seamless way to order prints and create photo albums, photo books and calendars. Apparently not enough people di...

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YC-backed Buttermilk brings easy-to-prepare Indian meals to your doorstep

When Mitra Raman went off to college, all she wanted was a bowl of her mother’s homemade rasam. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Raman grew up eating traditional South Indian cuisine almost every day, but didn’t quite know how to make it just like mom when she left home. On her next visit back home, she told her mom she missed her cooking. And, being a mom, Mrs. Raman simply packed all the ingredients for rasam in a plastic bag and told her daughter to heat up some water and add it in. It’s that simple. That’s how Buttermilk was born. The YC-backed company offers a variety of Indian dishes at a low price that can be cooked up by simply adding hot water. Based in Seattle, Buttermilk launched in 2017 to the local market and has since expanded to serve their products across the country. Buttermilk dishes include Sambar, Daal, Khichdi, Rasam, and Upma, all of which cost $6 each. Buttermilk also sells Basmati Rice for $1.50. While users can buy Buttermilk meals individually, they can also purchase one of Buttermilk’s “suites,” which pack a handful of meals into one shipment

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Snapchat launches privacy-safe Snap Kit, the un-Facebook platform

Today Snapchat finally gets a true developer platform, confirming TechCrunch’s scoop from last month about Snap Kit . This set of APIs lets other apps piggyback on Snap’s login for sign up, build Bitmoji avatars into their keyboards, display public Our Stories and Snap Map content, and generate branded stickers with referral links users can share back inside Snapchat. Snap Kit’s big selling point is privacy — a differentiator from Facebook. It doesn’t even let you share your social graph with apps to prevent a Cambridge Analytica-style scandal. Launch partners include Tinder bringing Bitmojis to your chats with matches, Patreon letting fans watch creators’ Stories from within its app, and Postmates offering order ETA stickers you can share in Snapchat that open the restaurant’s page in the delivery app. Developers that want to join the platform can sign up here . Snap Kit could help the stumbling public company colonize the mobile app ecosystem with its buttons and content, which might inspire Snapchat signups from new users and reengagement from old ones. “Growth is one of our three goals for 2018, so we absolutely hope it can contribute to that, and continue to strengthen engagement, which has always been a key metric for us” Snap’s VP of product Jacob Andreou tells me. That’s critical since Snapchat sunk to its lowest user growth rate ever last quarter under the weight of competition from Instagram and WhatsApp. “There have been areas inside of our products where we’ve really set standards” Andreou explains. “Early, that was seen in examples like Stories, but today with things like how we treat user data, what we collect, what we share when people login and register for our service . . .

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LOLA just raised $24M for a subscription service that ships tampons, pads and now condoms

LOLA , a subscription service delivering tampons and pads, and now other products, including condoms, lubricant, and feminine cleansing wipes, has closed on $24 million in Series B funding. While the startup touts its products’ “100% organic” nature, it’s also well-received because of the customization offered and its direct-to-consumer nature. The new round of financing was led by private equity firm Alliance Consumer Growth (ACG), with support from existing investors Spark Capital, Lerer Hippeau and Brand Foundry Ventures. To date, LOLA has raised $11.2 million, from investors including also BBG Ventures, 14W, the founders of Warby Parker and Harry’s, Sweetgreen, Bonobos, and Insomnia Cookies. Celebs like  Serena Williams, Karlie Kloss, Lena Dunham, and Allison Williams have also invested. Launched in 2015, LOLA’s founders Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier had the idea to challenge industry giants, like Tampax and Playtex, with a 100% organic product. “We founded LOLA with a simple and seemingly obvious idea – as women, we shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to our reproductive health,” explains Kier. “Like most women, we’d been using the same feminine care products since we were teenagers. But when we found out that brands – including the same ones we were loyal to all those years – aren’t required to disclose exactly what’s in their products, it made us wonder: what’s in our tampon?” “If we care about everything else we put in our bodies, products for our reproductive health shouldn’t be any different,” she states. LOLA’s tampons, pads and liners are made only with organic cotton, not synthetic fibers, like those used mainstream brands. Nor do they contain fragrances or dyes. The nature of its products appeal to consumers – especially, young millennial women – who are more conscious of the chemicals in their products, as well as those who want to buy organic for the environmental benefits. That said, there’s  a bit of debate over how dangerous (or not) it is to use traditional feminine care products. Skeptics , including some  doctors , insist there’s no threat from conventional products. But even women not concerned with buying organic may find LOLA appealing because of its model.

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Packhelp raises a seed round to spread the love of beautiful boxes

When we last left Packhelp they had raised €350,000 to build a business out of custom packaging. Their original hunch – that companies wanted cool, custom packaging for their products – was correct and now they’ve gone back to the VC trough for €2 million. The round, raised from Speedinvest x, PROFounders, and Market One Capital, will go to growing the Polish business internationally. It is run by Wojciech Sadowski, Konrad Kwiatkowski, Maciek Woźniczko, and Maciej Zając. “Before Packhelp, four of us were running a digital agency,” said Sadowski. “One of our clients asked us to order custom boxes for his product. We did some research and it turned out that it is almost impossible to place an order for small quantity of boxes. Why? Because normal printing houses require high minimum orders (> 500 pieces) and a lot of technical knowledge, they offer very long turn around (30-45 days) and very high personalization cost with poor quality and even worse customer service. We’ve decided to change that.” The company has 5,000 customers from 29 countries and sees about 600 orders a day.

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Apple to launch its own ‘digital health’ features in iOS 12, says report

At Google I/O in May, the company introduced a series of time management tools for Android users that help better manage screen time, track app usage, and limit the phone’s ability to distract, including a “shush” mode which turns on Do Not Disturb by flipping the phone over, and a “wind down,” color reduction mode for bedtime. Now, it seems Apple will follow suit with its own digital wellbeing features in an upcoming release of the iOS mobile operating system, a new report claims. According to Bloomberg , Apple will introduce a new set of digital wellbeing features for iOS users at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose on Monday. The tools will be later released as a part of iOS 12 operating system for iPhone and iPad devices, which typically arrives in the fall. The report was light on details in terms of which specific metrics Apple will track, but says those details will arrive in a new menu inside the Settings app in iOS 12. The initiative, called “Digital Health,” will monitor how much time users spend on devices, but it’s unclear if it will also include tools that help users silence their phones using new gestures or settings, or otherwise disengage from their devices. The digital wellbeing movement is part of a fairly recent course correction for Silicon Valley tech companies, which are now being held accountable for the addictive nature of the devices, apps and services they’ve created.   From the beginning, tech company engineers and designers were encouraged to make their products ever more engaging by taking advantage of specific design patterns that prompt regular, addictive usage of their products, and those that increase users’ time spent in apps. But more recently, some tech execs have come to espouse regrets for what they’ve built. Former Facebook president Sean Parker stated  Facebook’s design exploited weakness in the human psyche  to addict users, and said he worried about what it was doing to kids’ brains.

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