TechCrunch Disrupt 2017: 5 startups to watch out for

On the 4th and 5th of December 2017, the Arena in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzberg district (soon to host a new Google campus) was swarming with entrepeneurs and enthusiasts over the course of the 2-day convention. Almost any trendy tech you could think of was represented—AR, VR, drones, wearables, blockchain, fintech, medicine, social networks, 3D printing and more.

Although your humble reporter could only spend one frantic morning at the event, I had the opportunity to chat with up-and-coming startups promising to disrupt the world of consumer electronics in the coming year. Here’s our pick of the Startup Allee at TechCrunch Disrupt 2017, and what they had to show.

Lightweight AR glasses that don’t look (totally) dorky

Augmented reality has been a buzzword for years already, but this futuristic tech is still going through its growing pains. Various companies big and small have tried to get us comfortable with different headsets and smart spectacles but they’ve generally been too bulky (or silly looking) to catch on.

Korean startup LetinAR might be the company that cracks the balance between comfort and functionality. Their AR glasses are compact and comfortable enough that I could really see them working with everyday use. Below you can see me modelling a pair alongside LetinAR CEO Jaehyeok Kim.

IMG 20171205 101929 The future’s bright. / © AndroidPIT

As you can see from the scene above, LetinAR’s glasses aren’t exactly fashionable but they are lightweight and feel natural (at least, to someone used to wearing regular glasses). 

As for use, LetinAR are currently partnered with BMW to provide navigation assistance for drivers and are planning similar software coupled with fitness trackers for cyclists. Perhaps most interesting of all, however, will be AR subtitles—watch a foreign language film through the glasses, and see the subs appear before your eyes.

LetinAR aims to release their glasses in 2017 for Android devices. This means you’ll still have to connect the glasses to your phone or tablet with a cable, but LetinAR’s ambitions go far beyond that, standalone glasses in the pipeline over the next couple of years.

Now, a machine can learn to speak with your voice

At AndroidPIT, we’ve been thinking about vocal recognition a lot this year, but mainly when it comes to smart home tech. Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and co will recognize and respond to your voice. But voice cloning tech startup respeecher looks at it from a different angle—what if machines could get to know our voices so well that they could perfectly imitate them?

This Ukrainian startup uses deep learning to create a synthesized version of someone’s voice, which can then be programmed to say anything. You can check out samples of voice cloning work on their website, and the accuracy and realism is really impressive.

According to CTO Dmytro Bielievtsov, the technology behind respeecher was born from just playing around but could have a wide range of commercial applications. For example, movies can be dubbed in the voice of the original actor. CEO Oleksandr Serdiuk also suggests that in the future, when you contact a customer support call center, the voice you hear on the other line might not belong to the real-life operator at all, but instead be a cloned voice copied from the charismatic and persuasive agent on the team.

The guys for debt collection in call centers, they told us that some guys do almost nothing, but always succeed just because they have such a good voice.

The technology behind respeecher needs an hour of speech from the original speaker to make a clone, which raises an interesting possibility for voice actors. Once you have an hour’s worth of your portfolio, could you just upload it and license it out to be cloned by your clients?

If the idea sounds creepy, Bielievtsov insist that their mission is actually to avoid the uncanny valley entirely. He finds it off-putting to interact with bots and automated speech, but hopes that his technology will put us at ease by making the machine speak with all the warmth, nuance and feeling of a real person.

A new world for VR

The idea of a shared virtual world as always captured the imagination of futuristic thinkers, ever since the classic cyberpunk novel Snow Crash. One of the latest efforts to make this a reality comes at the hands of Somnium Space, which promises an open and persistent VR world that is compatible across various different platforms—Oculus, Vive, Dayream, GearVR, etc.

I gave Somnium Space a spin (using the HTC Vive) and explored a little corner of their virtual world. While gamers and thrill-seekers won’t find much action here, it has potential as a social space, as users will be able to purchase virtual real estate and construct houses, office buildings, etc.

Naturally, the idea of virtual property pays a key part in the monetization of this experience—free to visit, but pay to settle down. This isn’t an action game, but a vehicle for creativity and commerce. You can create and produce things in Somnium Space, and yes, someone might even pay you for what you make.

Essentially, what we’re looking at is a VR version of something like Second Life, and if that’s anything to go by, there could be huge potential here.

somnium Somnium Space is not a hardcore game but it does have an arcade you can visit in town. / © AndroidPIT

Interestingly, Somnium Space will allow both VR-heads and those more skeptical of the technology to mix freely in their virtual world, since you don’t need to be in VR to be there, and whether you’re strapped in to a headset or not, you can still interact, play games with, or talk to, anyone else you meet in the virtual world.

It’s been a long time since Snow Crash, and even The Matrix, but the upcoming Steven Spielberg film adaptation of Ready Player One might propel the idea of shared VR worlds back into the public consciousness at a critical time for Somnium Space.

The ‘real’ world also gets the VR treatment

Those of us who find the idea of a completely artificial space such as the one offered by Somnium Space may still find something to like with the VR reality tours offered by ViarLive. This Moldovian startup enables conversation of footage taken by 360-degree cameras to be converted into VR spaces that can be hosted online and embedded onto websites.

Something like a Tube site for VR content, ViarLive is great for tech enthusiasts with the right equipment to be able to record their travels and experiences and have others really immerse themselves into them. Hike to the summit of a mountain, for example, then create a VR space that allows people all around the world to enjoy the view as if they were there.

Naturally, the main commercial application here is in tourism. By using the app below and any kind of VR headset, even the humble Cardboard, you can see how it works by looking around a beautiful Moldovan monastery.

Moldova Monasteries in VR Install on Google Play

Since ViarLive also offers the potential to access various interactive information points planted in the scenery, you’ll be able to look at statue and bring up information about who it represents, or interact with a table at a restaurant to make a reservation. All-in-all, great potential for tourists that really want to check out a place in detail when planning their next trip.

Multi-screen AR makes TV interesting again

I’ll admit that in the midst of all the exciting interactive entertainment technology available today, good old-fashioned television rarely excites me, no matter how smart TVs get. But German startup eyecandylab GmbH did manage to, uh, catch my eye. The particular kind of candy they offer is the prospect of using AR apps on your mobile device to enhanced your TV watching experience.

eyecandylab Eyecandy’s tech enhances the TV experience on the second screen. / © AndroidPIT

I had a chat with founder Tom Orzikowski, who gave me a demo of how it works. Basically, they aim to bring the “two screens”, namely the television and your mobile device, together for the first time. In the above picture, the tablet can see the football game on the TV screen and then surround it with additional interactive and visual information about the team and players. 

Additional examples included having the fish from a nature documentary pop out of the TV and follow you around on the tablet screen, and being able to pull out the car from a car commercial and see its stats and price.

Something I always found irritating about interactive television was that, when you activated it, everyone else watching on the couch with you had to see the same thing on screen, even if they didn’t want to. Eyecandylab’s tech could be used without disturbing anyone else watching, who may well be using different AR enhancements on their own devices at the same time.

2018 – A year of disruption?

These were just a few of the exciting startups that grabbed my attention during our short time at TechCrunch Disrupt 2017, but there were plenty more pushing for innovation over a range of different fields. Are you excited to see any of the above products next year? Or are you looking forward to something else entirely? Let us know in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

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Watch the Huawei Mate 10 Event Live

Flagship season is in full swing so on Monday, October 16, it will be Huawei’s time to shine under the spotlight. The Chinese manufacturer will finally unveil its brand new Mate 10 and flagship Mate 10 Pro phones. Be sure to catch the event here at 2:00 PM CET streaming live from Munich, Germany.  

Touted as the dark horse smartphone of 2017, the fantastic Mate 9 may have been seriously underrated but not overlooked. With a “dedicated neural network processing unit” and a full-screen display, we’re incredibly excited to see what’s next in line for Huawei, as we’re expecting the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro to gain the commercial success the Mate 9 should have enjoyed.

Watch the livestream here or via YouTube:

Excited to see Huawei’s Mate 10? Do you think this can be Huawei’s first step towards taking on a weakening Samsung? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Can you use an Apple Watch with an Android smartphone?

Despite its late arrival to the smartwatch market, the Apple Watch is currently the best-selling smartwatch in the world. What’s even better is that Apple could even become the top watch manufacturer in the world according to Tim Cook, CEO of the company. It’s not unusual for many Android users to be interested in this product. But can you use an Apple Watch with an Android smartphone? The answer is in our article.

Does the Apple Watch work with an Android smartphone?

In theory, no. Apple didn’t plan for any official compatibility between their smartwatch and an Android smartphone. To use the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G), you need an iPhone 6 or a more recent model with the latest version of iOS. To use the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) or the older models of the Apple Watch, you need an iPhone 5s or a more recent model, with the latest version of iOS.

Apple didn’t plan for any official compatibility between their smartwatch and an Android smartphone

Why isn’t this possible?

No official Watch application is available on the Google Play Store for Android users. It’s not possible to synchronize your Android phone with the Apple Watch. To reinforce the incompatibility, Apple encrypts information shared between the iPhone and the Apple Watch, which can be achieved through a simple Bluetooth connection.

Why doesn’t the latest Apple Watch Series 3 with 4G LTE work with an Android smartphone?

Unfortunately, the launch of the Apple Watch Series 3 with a GSM modem/4G LTE still hasn’t resolved the compatibility issue between the Apple smartwatch and Android phones. Apple doesn’t offer a nano-SIM slot on the new smartwatch. It’s up to the operators to offer services allowing the watch’s integrated SIM to link to your smartphone.

AndroidPIT iPhone X 15 Apple Watch Series 3 © AndroidPIT

So, of course, there’s a possibility that you could sync your Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular with an Android smartphone but this solution is reserved for tinkerers. Be aware that you must have an iPhone (or that someone you know must have one) to insert your SIM card to set up the Apple Watch and then connect it to your Android smartphone. The compatibility isn’t perfect and seriously harms the battery of the connected watch. If you’re determined, you can follow the tutorial by iMore.

Will there always be incompatibility between the Apple Watch and Android smartphones?

The race of the connected watches is in full swing. While Apple is in the lead, it won’t be long until the Cupertino firm faces competition from Samsung, Garmin, Fitbit or even Fossil. One of the reasons for this is, in fact, the inability to correctly use an Android smartphone with an Apple Watch. Apple would have everything to gain by offering compatibility with Android in order to gain more users. However, nothing is to be won when the brand is only focused on encouraging more users to buy an iPhone and an Apple Watch.

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The Apple Watch will face real competition soon due to its incompatibility with Android phones

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What are the alternatives?

Finally, if you’re really interested in buying a smartwatch, know that there are other smartwatches available from brands other than Apple. There is a vast range available nowadays. I advise you to take a look at our list of the best Android smartwatches.

What smartwatch is your favorite of the moment? Do you want the Apple Watch? Discuss with us in the comments.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Watch the Google Pixel 2 launch event live

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is soon upon us: the Google Pixel 2 launch event goes live this Wednesday October 4 at 9:00 am PDT. After the success of the original Pixel phones last year, there’s lots of eyes on this year’s launch of Pixel 2 and maybe some other goodies from Mountain View. Watch it live here.

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We’re expecting to see an in-depth look at all the new features in the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and possibly other peripherals for the smart home ecosystem Google is creating. Hopefully that means new or updated Google Home and Google VR Daydream technology as well. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The launch officially kicks off at 9:00 am PDT at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA. That’s 12:00 pm EDT for the East Coast and 5:00 pm BDT in the UK.

Watch the livestream here or via YouTube:

Are you excited about this Google event? What are you expecting Google to announce? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Apple Watch Series 3: the future of the Apple Watch is here

Apple has just presented the new generation of the Apple Watch alongside the three new iPhones. This version will come with watchOS 4, LTE support and an antenna that works through the display.

Apple Watch Series 3

The third generation of the Apple Watch can work independently of a smartphone. For this to work, Apple provided it with a faster chip so that apps could work on their own. The new dual core processor has an Apple-designed Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chip which has low power consumption. In spite of all these changes, it’s the same size as the Apple Watch Series 2. Apple has incorporated an electronic SIM card, though its unclear whether it’s an Apple SIM or an eSIM. With the third Apple Watch, the Cupertino firm has come up with a refined solution for the antenna: it’s built into the display.

The new Apple Watch has other exciting new features as well. For example, Siri is able to speak to you directly through the watch. Apple Music will be available as an app on the Apple Watch this year, meaning you won’t need a paired smartphone to listen to music. With integrated LTE, users will always be connected.

apple keynote iphone x 6 Apple Watch Series 3 / © Apple @AndroidPIT

The Apple Watch Series 3 will be ready for pre-order from September 15, and available from September 22. It will cost $ 329 without LTE and $ 399 with LTE. It will work with all major carriers in the US: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. A wide range of colors and bands are available, and you can check out the Apple website for details.

If you’re not convinced by the newer Apple Watches, the Apple Watch Series 1 received a price reduction and is now just $ 249. Let us know what you think of the Series 3 in the comments!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

How to watch the Apple iPhone 8 livestream

On September 12, Apple will launch its next flagship phone: the iPhone 8. Apple may also announce a few other of its products at the eagerly anticipated event – we’re hoping and expecting to see something of the Apple Watch 3 and potentially also something about iOS 11. It’s also the 10th edition of this event, which marks a special day in Apple’s calendar, so we can expect something pretty special this year…

When is the iPhone 8 launch event?

The launch event will be on September 12 at 1PM ET (10AM PT or 6PM in the UK).

Apple’s event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater in California, where we’re expecting to see several products announced: the iPhone 8, hopefully the Apple Watch 3, Apple 4K TV and maybe even AirPods 2 as well as news on iOS 11. The tenth anniversary iPhone could be called either the iPhone X or the iPhone 8 according to rumors. Plus, two more phones have been rumored which may be dubbed iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, or even iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. We’ll have to wait and see.

How to watch the livestream

To watch the livestream, you should head to the Apple Special Event 2017 website. Depending on what device you’re using to watch the livestream, there are various requirements for compatibility:

From Android

Watching the event from an Android device is probably the most difficult way of streaming the event (hey, why would Apple make it easy?!). You’ll have to download the VLC media player app. Once it’s installed, tap on the menu icon (the hamburger) and then tap ‘Stream’. The link to add should be the one below, but if it isn’t, we’ll update it as soon as we can: http://appleliveevents-i.akamaihd.net/hls/live/222436/1609lijbsdfvoihbadfvohbsdfvljhb/master/4500/4500.m3u8?t=YWxpc2FtaXg=

From Windows PC or laptop (and Linux)

You need Windows 10 or later and the Microsoft Edge browser. Alternatively, you can use VLC media player to stream the event live. Once you’re installed the software on your device, navigate to the tab called ‘Media’ then click on “Open Network Stream…” (or just press Ctrl+N). Then insert the URL link below:

We believe the link for VLC will be: http://appleliveevents-i.akamaihd.net/hls/live/222436/1609lijbsdfvoihbadfvohbsdfvljhb/master/4500/4500.m3u8?t=YWxpc2FtaXg= but if it isn’t, we’ll update it as soon as we have the correct one.

From iPhone, iPad, or iPod

Make sure you have iOS 7 at least and open up Safari Internet browser. Head over to the Apple Special Event page and you’re good to go.

From Mac

You can use Safari Internet browser to watch the iPhone 8 launch (has to be Safari, not another browser). You need at least Safari version 6.0.5 and make sure your system is running OS X 10.8.5. Then just head over to the Apple Special Event page.

From Apple TV

You need a 2, 3 or 4th Generation Apple TV running software 6.2 or more recent. Download the Apple Events app and just tune in at 1PM ET!

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Watch the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 live stream here

On your marks… Get set… Not quite yet go… But it’s definitely go for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 at 11:00 AM EDT (that’s 8:00 AM PDT or 5:00 PM in the UK) on Wednesday August 23. Scroll down to find out how you can tune in for the eagerly anticipated launch event to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

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Taking place in New York, Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event is expected to be watched by thousands of fans of the Note series across the globe. 

After the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, Samsung simply cannot afford to make a single mistake with the Note 8. Samsung can expect fans to scrutinize this new phone, although you can bet that Samsung will have tested everything through a million times before this device becomes available on the market. Because of this, we might not be able to expect any huge innovations, as Samsung is likely to play it cool for a bit, to regain users’ trust in light of the exploding Note 7. 

When is the Galaxy Unpacked event for the Galaxy Note 8?

As mentoined above, the Galaxy Unpacked event will take place in New York today Wednesday August 23 at 11:00 AM EDT.

Note 8 unpacked The Galaxy Note 8 will be officially launched today. © Samsung

How can you watch the Galaxy Unpacked live stream event in real time?

You have a few options for watching the unveiling of the Note 8.

Through the official UNPACKED 2017 app

Samsung has released a free app for iOS and Android called Unpacked 2017. This app contains all the latest information on Samsung’s conference and you’ll be able to watch it live through the app.

androidpit unpacked 2017 app The Unpacked 2017 app is free to download. © AndroidPIT

  • App version: 2.06
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  • Compatibility: Android 4.3 and above
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Through Samsung’s website

In addition to its app, Samsung has launched a website for the event on which you’ll be able to watch the Galaxy Unpacked 2017 event live.

Through YouTube

Samsung will air the event in real time on the official Samsung YouTube channel. At the time of writing this article, the link wasn’t available yet, but we’ll add it in as soon as we have it.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

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