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Google claims built-in Nest mic was ‘never intended to be a secret’

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Google has admitted it made an error when it didn’t disclose that its Nest Secure home security system included an on-device microphone. In a statement given to Business Insider, a spokesperson from the company said, “The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.”At the beginning of February, Google announced that it would be adding built-in Google Assistant support to the Nest Guard, which is the Nest Secure system’s hub and keypad. Before then, the security system’s product page didn’t mention that it included a microphone. In its statement, Google clarified that, “The microphone has never been on, and is only activated when users specifically...Continue reading…

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Xiaomi’s Mi 9 has three rear cameras and a familiar design

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Following a few teases on social media over the past week, Xiaomi has today announced the Mi 9, the latest generation of its mainstream tentpole device. The Mi 9 (there’s no Mi 9 “Pro” at this time) looks very similar to last year’s Mi 8, but with a smaller notch cutout and a total of three rear cameras, up from the two found in the prior phone. The Mi 9 will be available in China first, before expanding to other regions Xiaomi sells phones in (which, before you ask, don’t include the US).Aside from the usual bump in specs and new camera features, the big visual update for the Mi 9 is the iridescent finish on the back, which changes colors depending on how you look at it. This effect is most prominent on the “lavender violet” model,...Continue reading…

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Resooma launches Resooma Bills to help ‘generation rent’ manage household expenditure

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Resooma, the U.K. accommodation booking platform, is entering the fintech and utilities space with the launch of Resooma Bills, a new product to help “gen rent” manage household expenditure. The Cardiff, Wales-based company’s core offering is an accommodation marketplace primarily targeting students and other renters aged 18-30.Previously trading under the brand name of University Cribs, Resooma was founded in 2014 by Jack Jenkins, Dan Jefferys and Christian Samuel as a solution aimed specifically at the student lettings market. The company has since broadened its remit to “fix the outdated methods” of renting a home and living together in shared accommodation.“The existing processes, much of which [are] sitting offline, was a total mess and the numbers of people who have to experience it is climbing rapidly,” says co-founder Jenkins. “With more people living in shared accommodation post University life, we aim to appeal to a time constrained user base that want instant gratification …

German insurance giant Allianz increases its VC fund to $1.1 billion

Allianz X, the venture capital arm attached to German insurance giant Allianz, has increased the size of its fund to €1 billion, around $1.1 billion, according to an announcement made today. The fund was initially €430 million, or around $490 million, when it launched in 2016.This new injection comes directly from parent Allianz SE, the 124-year-old insurer which did €130 billion ($150 billion) in revenue last year, and it makes Allianz X one of the largest active startup investment vehicles in Europe. While it is anchored in Europe, the fund’s investment thesis and focus is very much a global one.It has made 15 deals to date with a focus on growth-stage investments in startups such as emerging market-focused microinsurance company BIMA, Southeast Asian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek, U.S-based capital marketplace C2FO and European challenger bank N26.Allianz X, which initially began as an in-house incubation venture, is now looking to go after more of the same with its enlargened kitty …

StarOfService switches business model for its independent contractor marketplace

French startup StarOfService has recently switched its business model and has been profitable for the month of January 2019. The company operates a marketplace for independent contractors, a sort of Thumbtack for the rest of the world.If you’re looking for a plumber, a music teacher or a DJ for a wedding, StarOfService can help you find one. The service is now available in 80 countries in Europe and has worked with 500,000 professionals over the years. It’s unclear how many of them are active right now.There are 6 million requests posted every year, and StarOfService currently generates $73.7 million (€65 million) in transactions per month.Originally, you first created a request and sent in to the platform. Professionals had 24 hours to bid on your request, and clients could pick a service providers based on reviews and quotes.StarOfService would charge contractors every time they’d see a request. It was a sort of lead generation platform for independent contractors. Depending on the …

Binance releases a first version of its decentralized crypto exchange

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Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has launched an initial version of its highly-anticipated decentralized trading service (dex) today which is available now at testnet.binance.org.The launch — which is initially a testnet as the URL suggests — has been a long time coming and it is designed to complement the main Binance exchange, which does around $1 billion in daily trading volumes according to data from CoinMarketCap.com.That core service is centralized, like most others, meaning that the exchange manages its customers’ fiat or cryptocurrency balance for them. Centralized exchanges also set the price, pick the selection of assets on offer and make money from transaction fees. Some see that as necessary but others disagree. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin went so far as to say that centralized exchanges should “burn in hell” for their controlling position.That, as seasoned crypto traders will tell you, leaves customers open to loses from hacks, shutdowns or other kinds o…

The FBI reportedly had a backup plan to preserve evidence gathered in the Russia probe

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REUTERS/Joshua RobertsThe FBI developed a backup plan to protect evidence in its Russia investigation soon after the firing of FBI Director James Comey in the event that other senior officials were dismissed as well.The plan was crafted in the chaotic days after Comey was fired, when the FBI began investigating whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice and whether he might be, wittingly or not, in league with the Russians.The goal was to ensure that the information collected under the investigations would survive the firings or reassignments of top law enforcement officials.Those officials included special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed eight days after Trump fired Comey in May 2017.WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI developed a backup plan to protect evidence in its Russia investigation soon after the firing of FBI Director James Comey in the event that other senior officials were dismissed as well, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.The plan was cr…