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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News


After delays, noise-adapting NuraLoop earbuds are coming soon and sound great

Posted: 11 Jan 2020 02:30 PM PST

A few buffet mistakes aside, NuraLoop were the biggest disappointment of my 2019 CES. When the headphones showed up at the show as dummy units, it hurt my heart a little. The original Nuraphones made an appearance on my 2017 best of the year list, and the idea of a portable version I could take on long flights seemed almost too good to be true.

And for a full year, it was exactly that. Understandably, the Australian startup ran into a few roadblocks attempting to bring the product to market. It's still a young company, even though its first gen product when over remarkably well. The noise-adapting headphones were extremely well thought out, right down to the package.

The hangup for their portable, in-ear counterparts is pretty surprising, to be honest. For much of the year, Nura just couldn't crack the code of the cable, of all things. It's a doubly odd sticking point, given how many of its competitors have ditched the cabling altogether. It should be noted up front, however, that the decision to keep things tethered is more pragmatic than aesthetic (honestly, it wouldn't have been choice from a design standpoint).

As CEO Dragan Petrovic mentioned in a briefing at the show this week, the customer base for the original over-ears includes a pretty strong base of professional musicians, The cable includes a magnetic adapter for an analog headphone jack, so they can be used on stage monitors. There are a number of other times that still require capable — I'm writing this on a plane, for example. What am I supposed to do, just stare at Gemini Man?

There are other benefits, including a stated 16+ hours of battery life, without requiring a charging case. Also, you can wear them around your neck while not in use, if that's a thing you like to do.

It's never fun to have to delay a product, of course. In the year between CESes, Apple launched the AirPods Pro. The devices are two distinctly different approaches to the category, but Apple's product does edge into NuraLoops' territory, with a built-in fit check and great noise canceling. Again, different products with different audiences, but one has to wonder how many folks waiting for the NuraLoop pulled the trigger on the new AirPods, instead.

I'm happy to report that the sound quality on the NuraLoop is still extremely excellent. Sure, you lose the over-ear immersive bass effect without the ear cups, but the customized sound profile is still firmly in tact. The calibration is more or less the same, and when you're done, you can swap between profiles to see how big a difference the customization makes (hint: it's big).

The headphones are a bit on the bulky side. I'm definitely going to go exercise with them as soon as I get a review pair to see how well they stay put. The control scheme is clever — a touch well on the outside of each ear that perform a variety of different functions.

The year-long wait was less than ideal, but if you held out, you'll probably find them worth it. The Nuraloop are another excellent product from the small Australian startup, which has managed to distinguish itself well in an overly crowded category. They run $200 and will start shipping in March.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

This Week in Apps: Apple’s record holiday, Pokémon Go’s staying power, a spying tool gets the boot

Posted: 11 Jan 2020 10:40 AM PST

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever with a record 203 billion downloads in 2019 and $119 billion in consumer spending, according to preliminary year-end data by App Annie. People spend 90% of their mobile time in apps and more time using their mobile devices than watching TV. Apps aren't just a way to waste idle hours — they're big business, one that often seems to change overnight.

In this Extra Crunch series, we help you to keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

This week, we’re back to look at the latest headlines from the app world, including Apple’s record holiday 2019 on the App Store, a look at the staying power of AR hit, Pokémon Go, how the app stores handled a UAE spying tool, stalled Instagram growth in the U.S., and more.

The electric scooter wars of 2019

Posted: 11 Jan 2020 09:51 AM PST

Throughout 2019, a number of mobility companies launched in additional markets, while many pulled out of areas that no longer served them. Meanwhile, transportation startups continued to raise more money even as they laid off employees, a sign that industry consolidation has officially begun.

In October, Bird raised a $275 million Series D round at a $2.5 billion valuation. Prior to that round, Bird raised more than $400 million in funding and reached a valuation of $2 billion last June. Lime also raised more money last year with a $310 million round in February led by Bain Capital. That round valued Lime at $2.4 billion.

Despite Bird’s treasure chest, it laid off up to 5% of its workforce in March, followed by cutting up to a dozen Scoot employees in December. Lyft, similarly, also laid off up to 50 people on its bikes and scooters team in March. So it’s no wonder why Spin employees took the steps to form a union; roughly 40 workers in charge of deployment, charging and repairs are now part of Teamsters Local 665.

At CES, companies slowly start to realize that privacy matters

Posted: 11 Jan 2020 08:12 AM PST

Every year, Consumer Electronics Show attendees receive a branded backpack, but this year's edition was special; made out of transparent plastic, the bag’s contents were visible without the wearer needing to unzip. It isn't just a fashion decision. Over the years, security has become more intense and cumbersome, but attendees with transparent backpacks didn’t have to open their bags when entering.

That cheap backpack is a metaphor for an ongoing debate — how many of us are willing to exchange privacy for convenience?

Privacy was on everyone's mind at this year's CES in Las Vegas, from CEOs to policymakers, PR agencies and people in charge of programming the panels. For the first time in decades, Apple had a formal presence at the event; Senior Director of Global Privacy Jane Horvath spoke on a panel focused on privacy with other privacy leaders.