Day: June 7, 2019

June 7, 2019 Off

The makers of Duet Display and Luna on life after Apple’s Sidecar

By Jill T Frey

Of all of the WWDC announcements this week, Sidecar got me the most excited. I’m on the road a lot these days, and apps like Duet and Luna have been lifesavers. They’ve afforded me the ability to carry around a reasonably sized laptop, with an optional second screen in the form of the iPad.

Both products have their respective strengths, but I’m very interested in seeing how native second display support for iPad plays out, and I’m sure I’m not alone among their current customers. Having already demoed the macOS Catalina feature a few times at the event this week, I’m pretty impressed with the implementation.

The latency is barely perceptible, and the array of features with the Apple pencil is impressive. The iPad Pro was wired in the demos, due to the oversaturated nature of wireless technology at these sorts of shows, but the combination Bluetooth/wireless feature allows users … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Lyft sues SF over bike-share program

By Jill T Frey

Lyft is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming that the city is violating its 10-year contract with Lyft that would give the company exclusive rights to operate bike-share programs. San Francisco, however, says the contract does not apply to dockless bike-share, but only station-based bike-share.

In its lawsuit, Lyft is seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the city from issuing permits to operators for stationless bike-share rentals.

Although SF previously allowed Uber-owned JUMP to operate its stationless electric bikes, that was supposed to be a one-time exception since Motivate, which Lyft eventually bought, was not yet ready to deploy its stationless electric bikes, the lawsuit states. JUMP’s pilot expires on July 9, 2019, but now the city is seeking additional operators to deploy stationless electric bikes.

“We are eager to continue investing in the regional bikeshare system with the MTC and San Francisco,” a Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Walmart’s JetBlack personal shopping service customers are spending $1,500 per month

By Jill T Frey

A year after Walmart’s personal shopping service JetBlack launched in New York, the retailer reports two-thirds of customers engage with the service on a weekly basis, and spend an average of $1,500 per month on JetBlack purchases. To be clear, that doesn’t mean the customers are only buying products from Walmart or its subsidiaries like Jet.com — JetBlack is a standalone e-commerce business incubated by Walmart, and will deliver products from other retailers as well.

In fact, the only things it won’t deliver are fresh groceries, alcohol, CBD-related products, tobacco and prescription medications and lenses.

The incubated “startup,” so to speak, is a concierge-style experiment in conversational commerce where customers text requests, then receive product recommendations from Walmart, Jet.com and other local retailers. The service costs $50 per month, making it more expensive than Amazon Prime, but more affordable than high-end concierge services like Hello Alfred and Magic, which … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Uber’s COO and chief marketing officer are out

By Jill T Frey

Uber’s chief operating officer Barney Harford and chief marketing officer Rebecca Messina are stepping down as part of an organizational shakeup put into motion just a month after the ride-hailing company went public.

CNBC first reported the departures.

The departures, which CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained in an email to employees, were prompted by his decision to more directly control core parts of the business. Khosrowshahi told employees that he wants to be even more involved in the day-to-day operations of its biggest businesses, the core platform of Rides and Eats, and has decided they should report directly to him.

Harford left after agreeing that the chief operating officer role “no longer makes sense,” according to the email reviewed by TechCrunch.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that at every critical milestone, it’s important to step back and think about how best to organize for the future. Given that we’re a month … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

FedEx ends express delivery contract with Amazon

By Jill T Frey

FedEx will not renew a contract with Amazon to provide express delivery for the e-commerce giant’s packages in the United States.

FedEx, which made the announcement Friday, said in a statement the change would not affect other existing contracts with Amazon or international services. FedEx Express only impacts air services. FedEx will still serve as a carrier for Amazon for last-mile deliveries.

Amazon said in a statement that it respects FedEx’s decision and thanked them for its “role serving Amazon customers over the years.”

FedEx tempered the news by stating that Amazon is not its largest customer. The percentage of total FedEx revenue attributable to Amazon.com represented less than 1.3% of total FedEx revenue for the 12-month period ended December 31, 2018, according to FedEx.

The decision follows an explosion in e-commerce, a trend that is expected to continue. FedEx estimates that e-commerce is expected to grow from 50 million … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

On the road to self-driving trucks, Starsky Robotics built a traditional trucking business

By Jill T Frey

More than three years ago, self-driving trucks startup Starsky Robotics was founded to solve a fundamental issue with freight — a solution that CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher believes hinges on getting the human driver out from behind the wheel.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Starsky Robotics started a regular ol’ trucking company. Now, nearly half of the employees at this self-driving truck startup help run a business that uses the traditional model of employing human drivers to haul loads for customers, TechCrunch has learned.

Starsky’s trucking business, which has been operating in secret for nearly two years alongside the company’s more public pursuit of developing autonomous vehicle technology, has hauled 2,200 loads for customers. The company has 36 regular trucks that only use human drivers to haul freight. It has three autonomous trucks that are driven and supported by a handful of test drivers. Starsky also employs a … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Tackling ‘big tech’ issues through storytelling, with Jessica Powell

By Jill T Frey

Jessica Powell, Google’s former head of PR from 2012-2018 (years in which Google required a not-insignificant amount of PR leadership), is now a rock star writer whose 2018 debut book, The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional But Essentially True Silicon Valley Story, was the first novel published by Medium.

I recently spoke with Powell for this series on the ethics of technology, because The Big Disruption, for all its manic energy and a playfulness at times bordering on sci-fi sitcom level-absurdity, should be viewed as a key work in the emerging field of tech ethics. In scenes like the one that begins below, her comic timing and characters help us see how “disruptive” technologies may not so much change humanity, as reveal it.

As a product manager, you are tasked with leading a team and bringing an idea to life. You are the visionary who must direct not

Read the rest
June 7, 2019 Off

FCC passes measure urging carriers to block robocalls by default

By Jill T Frey

The FCC voted at its open meeting this week to adopt an anti-robocall measure, but it may or may not lead to any abatement of this maddening practice — and it might not be free, either. That said, it’s a start toward addressing a problem that’s far from simple and enormously irritating to consumers.

The last two years have seen the robocall problem grow and grow, and although there are steps you can take right now to improve things, they may not totally eliminate the issue or perhaps won’t be available on your plan or carrier.

Under fire for not acting quickly enough in the face of a nationwide epidemic of scam calls, the FCC has taken action about as fast as a federal regulator can be expected to, and there are two main parts to its plan to fight robocalls, one … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Sam’s Club is upgrading tire shopping with a time-saving app

By Jill T Frey

Alongside today’s news that Walmart will soon introduce in-home grocery delivery in select markets, the company today announced another new effort similarly aimed at saving customers’ time. But this time, the focus was on Sam’s Club members, and specifically addressed the long process involved with buying car tires. To address that challenge, the company is rolling out a new “Sam’s Garage” app across the U.S. in July that will turn what used to take half an hour into a five-minute process, the company claims.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon recounted a fun anecdote about his tire-buying experience at a Sam’s Club, which prompted the creation of the new app.

“A few months ago, I ran over a nail and ruined a tire, so I went to Sam’s Club for help. It was a Saturday, and we were busy. At one point, I’m third in line with two members behind me. … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Audi proves two little screens are better than one big screen

By Jill T Frey

I’m spending some time in the new Audi Q8, and the car company equipped the crossover with its latest infotainment system. I love it, fingerprints, dust and all.

The grimy screens are part of the story. I could have cleaned up the screens for the photos, but I thought it was essential to show the screens after a couple of weeks of use.

There are two screens placed in the center stack of the Q8. The top one features controls for the radio, mapping system and vehicle settings. The bottom screen is for climate controls and additional controls like garage door opener and the vehicle’s cameras. Both have haptic feedback, so the buttons feel nearly real.

Both screens are tilted at the right angle, and the shifter is built in a way that provides a handy spot to rest your wrist, steadying it as you hit the screens.

Car companies … Read the rest