Virtual nurse app Sense.ly raises $8 million from investors including the Mayo Clinic


San Francisco startup Sense.ly has raised $8 million in a Series B round of venture funding to bring its virtual nurse technology to clinics and patients of every kind. The company’s app helps physicians stay in touch with patients, and prevent readmission to the hospital. Chief Executive Officer and founder of Sense.ly, Adam Odessky describes the platform as “A cross between Whatsapp and Siri that captures all the important signals about a person’s health.”

On the patient side, Sense.ly asks users to tell a nurse avatar how they’re doing with 5-minute “check ins” either once a day, or every few days, on their smartphones. Patients can simply talk to the app, no typing required. What they share through check-ins is rolled up into a medical record that only authorized health providers can review. The reports also include data that Sensely pulls in from a range of medical devices, wearables and other internet-connected hardware that patients use in their daily lives.

Sense.ly integrates artificial intelligence from the likes of MindMeld, Beyond Verbal, Affectiva and others to enable its platform to respond to a patient’s mood, not just their symptoms and behavior. The app speaks with patients empathetically. When they have serious concerns about managing their heart health, or diabetes, for example, Odessky said you don’t want patients hearing a chilly, robotic response or one that feels commercial. Conducting emotional analysis also helps Sense.ly alert health care providers when their patients may need mental health counseling, or are experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety as a side effect of certain prescribed medications or lifestyle changes.

“Molly” is a virtual nurse app made by Sense.ly.

To make the app work for people in different age groups and dealing with different health issues, Sense.ly has written its core, rule-based engine and algorithms around commonly accepted medical protocols for diagnosing and dealing with chronic diseases. The company is always layering in more protocols and content, usually from partner-hospitals and clinics, to expand to cover different health issues and populations.

To-date, the company has focused on engaging patients who are 60 and older and grappling with issues like: COPD, heart failure, diabetes and other age-associated health problems. But Sense.ly has been expanding, to work with massive health providers including the National Health Service of the UK, and several major clinics and hospitals in the US. Sensely competes with other startups building AI medical assistants, such as HealthLoop, Your.md and Babylon Health.

Investors in Sense.ly’s Series B round included the Mayo Clinic, Chengwei Capital which led the round, Bioved Ventures, Fenox Venture Capital and the Stanford StartX fund. Chengwei Capital Managing Director Richard Gu tells TechCrunch that his firm only invests in startups that have a “China play,” meaning their apps could serve massive markets there, or their technology could be manufactured in China.

The investor said, “We may help them find key partners in this region to expand here. But we want to see them use the funding to invest in core research and development.” Gu said he believes that Sense.ly’s technology has the potential to help people live longer, better lives and stay independent at home for longer than they might today. Odessky said given the medical talent shortage plaguing the US and other markets, Sense.ly also has the potential to make quality healthcare more affordable and available.

Will the virtual nurse “steal” jobs from human nurses, though? Odessky says no. “There aren’t people doing this job already. You couldn’t possibly have humans do this amount of phone calls and data analysis. This is a technology to help medical professionals do their jobs more effectively, and not one that threatens their livelihood.”

Featured Image: sense.ly

HTC has another tough quarter, with revenue down 13% YOY, but smaller losses


HTC’s latest financials make for another fairly dismal read for the mobile device and VR headset maker, though — crumbs of comfort — it’s making a slightly smaller year-over-year loss. Its operating loss for Q4 2016 was NT$3.6 billion ($116.8M) vs a loss of NT$4.1 billion ($133.1M) in Q4 2015.

Revenue for Q4 2016 was also down at NT$22.2 billion ($720.7M), which is a year-over-year drop of around 13 per cent. Not great news, clearly, but less of a YOY revenue slide than in other recent quarters.

However gross margin declined year over year too, dropping from 13.9 per cent in Q4 2015 to 10.5 per cent in Q4 2016. While HTC’s year over year operating margin was almost the same, at -16.0 per cent for the quarter.

In its report for Q4, HTC claims “robust sales performance” and notes sequential revenue “improving sequentially over 2016”, though revenue was actually flat between Q3 and Q4 — at a point in the sales cycle when you might be expecting a holiday boost to earnings.

HTC Q416

HTC also flags what it describes as “aggressively managed” operating expenditure delivering a 34 per cent cost reduction for the business over the course of the year.

But efficiency savings can’t in themselves beget business turnarounds — that requires a string of product wins. And virtual reality is a risky bet for HTC to be making for that, given the lack of proven consumer demand for such a nascent tech.

In recent years loss-making quarters have become the norm for the Taiwanese company, which posted its first ever loss making quarter in Q3 2013. Since then, the raft of management changes, portfolio tweaks and a partnership with games publisher Valve focused on virtual reality have yet to translate into any sustained upward momentum for HTC’s business.

On the product front — beyond its ongoing efforts to tout its Vive VR play — Q4 saw HTC put out several mid tier handsets badged with existing/long-in-the-tooth brand names, such as Desire and Evo.

Notably it’s since launched what it dubs a “new direction” for its phones business, announcing last month a new mobile brand, HTC U, for a range of handsets pre-loaded with a new AI assistant. Not having a much needed smartphone refresh ready to go in Q4 clearly didn’t help its sales performance in the quarter.

HTC was also the design and manufacturing partner for Alphabet’s new Google-branded Pixel handsets, which launched during the quarter. But there are few signs that relationship has translated into substantial sales revenue for HTC.

Its Q4 report provides little detail on any future plans, merely pointing to its continued investment of effort to try to establish a sustained market for VR.

“HTC continues to build the virtual reality ecosystem around HTC VIVE, with several events underlining the growing reach of the Vive platform, including opening the first VIVE-based arcade in Taipei, first demo days for VIVE X accelerator program in Beijing, Taipei, and San Francisco, and the launch of VIVE studios,” it notes.

This fake Kylie Jenner story fooled the internet

A fake resignation letter from a frustrated “journalist” sick of writing about Kylie Jenner has gone viral on social media, with people giving shout-outs to the reporter for “standing up for what is right.” 

The letter is actually an article by satirical site Waterford Whispers News, the Irish equivalent of The Onion, entitled “Did Kylie Jenner Get a Boob Job? Why Am I Being Paid To Write About This Shite?” 

In it, the author launches a mouth-fouled tirade against the editor, Siobhan, who asked them to write another story about the youngest Jenner. 

“FUCKING probably yeah, but why the fuck do I have to write 500 words on it and ‘include 5 pictures from her Instagram or Snapchat’,” reads the opening. “Yeah, al-fucking-right Siobhan, thanks for the email. This is exactly why I studied journalism, cheers for hiring me. Fucking dream job my hole.”

An image of the article, entitled “Best resignation article ever,” was one of the most popular images on Imgur, with 27,000 points: 

<img class="" data-credit-name="IMGUR

” data-credit-provider=”custom type” src=”http://techio.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/this-fake-kylie-jenner-story-fooled-the-internet.png” data-fragment=”m!2559″ data-image=”http://i.amz.mshcdn.com/SlkxRuGAc5I7roraeNOXLRd23GE=/https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F383057%2F3f5abd67-f5a9-4a5a-a10f-4baa39be0fa8.png” data-micro=”1″/>

Image: IMGUR

The fake resignation letter also went viral on Twitter, with thousands of people retweeting the original post: 

The Poke also fell for the hoax and wrote: “The prospect of writing 500 words about Kylie Jenner’s boobs proves too much for one journalist.” They later deleted it:

The original story was shared over 65,000 times. 

Mashable has reached out to Waterford Whispers News for comment.

Legendary Nokia 3310 might be coming back this month

Nokia 3310 -- the original.
Nokia 3310 — the original.

Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Quick: What’s the best phone you’ve ever used? For many, the answer is Nokia 3310, a nearly indestructible phone that predates the smartphone era by nearly a decade.

Launched in 2000 by then-gigantic Finnish phone maker Nokia, the 3310 was compact, sturdy, reliable and its battery lasted forever. Now, according to a report by reliable leaker of all things mobile, Evan Blass, the Nokia 3310 is poised for a triumphant return. 

OK, we’re not sure about the “triumphant” bit, as the report, posted over on VentureBeat, is scarce on details. It appears the HMD Global Oy, the Finnish manufacturer that bought the rights to market phones under the Nokia brand from Microsoft, will launch a “modern version” of 3310 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this month. 

More precisely, the phone will be launched Feb. 26, when HMD has scheduled an event in Barcelona, and the new Nokia 3310 will cost a mere €59 ($63). Other than that, we know nothing — but we definitely hope this 3310 reboot will include the legendary game from the original phone, Snake. 

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HMD will launch a couple of smartphones as well, Blass claims: Nokia 5 and Nokia 3. The 5.2-inch Nokia 5 will have 2GB of RAM and a 12-megapixel camera, and it will retail for €199 ($211). There are no details about the entry-level Nokia 3 except that it will cost €149 ($158), and both phones will run on Android 7, according to the report. 

The company will also showcase the already launched Nokia 6, which has so far only been available in China. 

We’ll be in Barcelona to cover the Mobile World Congress and we’ll definitely take the opportunity to compare the rebooted Nokia 3310 to the original one, pictured below. 

OK Cupid revamps to be less like Tinder, more political


Just in time for Valentine’s Day (ugh, sorry), dating app OK Cupid is getting a makeover. Psych!  Just kidding, the company is introducing a new version of its mobile app today, but OK Cupid’s full redesign won’t actually roll out until March. Though the timing of the announcement is clearly manufactured, the overhaul itself is fairly significant. In addition to getting a whole new aesthetic, complete with updated typography and new illustrations, the app’s feature set is being made over as well, in an effort to further differentiate itself from Tinder’s “hot or not” game.

The prior version of the OK Cupid app featured a section called Quickmatch, which was effectively OKC’s own version of Tinder. In the new app out today, Quickmatch has been rebranded as DoubleTake, and is walking itself back from a focus only on the dater’s leading photo.

old-vs-new-doubletake

Above: Old Quickmatch (left) vs New DoubleTake (right)

While you’re still swiping to move through this matching interface, you’re now being shown multiple photos all on one page, as well as various details about the person in question, including their profile text. The idea, the company explains, is to give users a deeper look into someone’s personality right from the start.

This new screen, which is also the app’s main screen that loads upon first launch, will include up four photos, the username, age, location, percentage match, plus other details pulled out of from the user profile, like height, whether they have dogs, have kids, personality traits like “friendly,” “energetic,” “organized,” and more.

These are displayed alongside icons, like a paw print for dogs, or a beach ball for kids, for example. A brief user profile summary appears below.

doubletake

“With DoubleTake, we show many more facets of a person – we’re showing what makes people tick so that you’ll have better dates and better relationships,” explains OK Cupid CEO Elie Seidman in a statement about the app’s makeover. “Every person has a story and instead of helping users speed up, DoubleTake slows them down within the swiping interface so that they can appreciate each other’s uniqueness,” he added.

Seidman, formerly the co-founder and CEO of TripAdvisor-owned Oyster, came on board with OK Cupid in May of last year, with a goal of shifting the brand to one that’s more focused on meaningful relationships, as compared with apps like Tinder, which are still often confused (or used) as tools for quick hookups. This is a tactic others in the space have taken as well, including most recently Hinge, which pivoted to a new experience itself in October, also claiming a renewed focus on “real relationships.”

DoubleTake was tested with select members ahead of today’s public launch, and was found to have tripled the mutual matches, OK Cupid claims.

questions-2

Of course, it doesn’t matter to OK Cupid parent company Match Group which dating app aesthetic you prefer, only that they’re notably different from one another. Match Group owns not only Match.com and OKC, but also Tinder, Meetic, Twoo, OurTime, BlackPeopleMeet, and others.

In addition to this “slowed down” matching, OK Cupid is also doubling down on its question-and-answer feature. Long one of the app’s standout differentiators, the app will now receive annual updates to keep this section fresh with more relevant and timely questions that can help daters find people who share their values.

In this day and age, that means political values, it seems.

The new release includes 50 added questions, some of which are controversial topics for debate – like how you feel about Trump’s Muslim ban, whether you believe in climate change, or even how you feel about Trump himself.

There are also questions reflective of various dating focused topics, like ghosting.

trump

The upcoming revamp, however, includes a new look-and-feel for OK Cupid across its platform on both web and mobile. Things will be organized a bit differently, but the most noticeable changes are the new typography and the illustrations.

categories

The company commissioned Berlin-based artist Jay Daniel Wright, who has done illustrations for The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Die Ziet, to create unique designs to accompany the app’s various sections. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and are meant to impart a modern and progressive vibe – that’s something a company founded in 2004 could probably use.

The updated OK Cupid is live today on iOS and Android with DoubleTake, but the larger redesign is planned for March.

Why the new MacBook Pro’s battery life is great for some, not so for others

One of the hotly debated topics around Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro lineup of laptops is battery life. For some users, it’s sub-par, far worse than on the previous generation of MacBook Pros. On the other hand, it achieved stellar results, with average battery life above 15 hours after Apple fixed an issue which caused erratic results on the initial battery tests.  

So which is it? It could, in fact, be both, and macOS app developer Ben Slaney explains how.

In a blog post published last week, Slaney — who develops a macOS battery life indicator app called Battery Guru — says that the power efficiency on the 15-inch, 2016 MacBook Pro is excellent, far better than on previous MacBook Pros. 

Here’s the trick, however: Apple managed to significantly decrease the power draw of the new MacBook Pro under low power usage conditions — basically when the computer is idle. So if you’re just reading an article on a website, with nothing going on in the background, you can expect the battery to last up to 18 hours, according to Slaney’s calculations. 

“I’m impressed that the new MBP will happily sit at a 500 mA power draw for long stretches of time. This is a greater improvement than I would have thought possible,” wrote Slaney. 

What about the professionals and the power users?

Under heavy load, however, the power draw is similar to the earlier generation, but the new MacBook Pro has a 25% smaller battery, so when you push it hard, you won’t get great results. This is likely why some pro users are dissatisfied with the new MacBook Pro’s battery life. They do a lot of intensive tasks, and in that scenario, Apple’s optimizations don’t help much. What’s needed is, simply put, a bigger battery. 

Many professional users don’t like the direction Apple has headed, but Slaney argues it’s not that big of a deal. “Personally I wish that Apple would make huge laptops which weigh 10 pounds with dual graphics cards in them,” he told Mashable in an email. “However, given the angle that they have taken (…), I think the concerns about battery life are overblown.”

Slaney points out that his results are observational and aren’t based on rigorous testing. But they do explain the discrepancies we’ve seen in the new MacBook Pro’s battery life, depending on who’s using it. 

So if you own a 2016 MacBook Pro or are considering buying it, what should you do? One thing you can do is monitor your battery drain — Slaney’s Battery Guru will do the trick, but there are other apps that do something similar — and see if the apps you use daily are big battery hogs. If they are, and there’s just no replacing them, the new MacBook Pro likely won’t make you happy. 

If you don’t mind checking your Chrome tabs for power hogs and killing them every once in a while, the new MacBook Pro’s battery might last well beyond 10 hours.

On the other hand, if you typically don’t use very CPU-intensive apps, and you don’t mind checking your Chrome tabs (a frequent battery drain culprit) for power hogs and killing them every once in a while, the new MacBook Pro’s battery might last well beyond Apple’s advertised 10 hours

Here’s another thought. According to Slaney, macOS Sierra already supports external batteries; if Apple were to release one (third party manufacturers already have, but none of them are certified to work with the Pro, only the 12-inch MacBook), you could just plug it into one of those USB-C ports on the new MacBook Pros and get a big battery life boost. True, that kills a lot of the joy in having a super-thin laptop, but if you don’t mind the extra bulk, it could be a good compromise. 

Slaney agrees. “I really think that very soon there’s going to be first party or third-party absolutely fantastic power banks for these things, by virtue of the USB-C port.”

And when USB-C power banks become ubiquitous, Slaney claims, the internal battery life on a portable life will become “less important.”

Procrastinate much? These 8 apps can help you save Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to do something special for your significant other. Maybe an unexpected trip, flowers, or a fancy dinner reservation is what you need to make this a perfect day. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to help you sweep your partner off their feet, you need to check out the best Valentine’s Day apps for iOS and Android.

More: Forgot it was Valentine’s Day? Relax, here’s how you can still rock it

These Valentine’s Day apps cover everything from flowers to romantic getaways, so they should help you make it a truly memorable one this year.

Send flowers with: 1-800-Flowers


The most traditional thing to do on Valentine’s Day is to buy flowers for your loved one, but it can be even more special if they’re unexpected. 1-800-flowers is one of the most renowned services for sending flowers, plants, and gifts, to anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you want to send flowers, cookies, fruit, or chocolates, you can do it through this service. One of the greatest things about 1-800-flowers is that it not only works in the United States, but also around the world in 195 countries.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Book a last minute getaway with: Airbnb


This is the perfect app for a last minute getaway. You can book a home anywhere in the world. Options are divided into categories so you can search by price, neighborhood, amenities, and so on. It’s a great way to discover new and exciting places, and you’ll often get insider information from your host about where to visit.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Book a romantic dinner with: OpenTable


This is a great app to use not only on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year. Nothing says “I love you” like a nice romantic dinner at a great restaurant. You can search restaurants and book reservations, even if they’re last minute. There are special offers from some restaurants, and a feature called Dining Rewards Program, which is like a frequent-flyer program, but for eating out. You earn points when you make a reservation using the app, and you can redeem them for a Dining Rewards Gift, or an Amazon Gift Card.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Send sweets with: Shari’s Berries: Dipped Strawberries & Desserts


Does your significant other have a sweet tooth? With this app you can send sweet strawberry treats that are beautiful and delicious, right from your smartphone. You open the app, choose your gift, then you can type a nice message for the person you’re sending it to. Once you get through the secure checkout, your strawberries will be hand picked, your gift will be hand wrapped, and it will be sent express, packed in ice, so that it arrives quickly and fresh.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Book a hotel with: Hotel Tonight


If you want to find a hotel to get away, but you didn’t book months in advance, then Hotel Tonight is a great option. You have access to 15,000 hotels in 35 different countries around the world, so it’s very likely that you’ll find what you’re looking for here. You can book hotels up to a week in advance, for the next day, or if it’s a spur of the moment decision, you can book for the same night.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Make a custom card with: justWink


Cards are often a great way to express the way you feel about someone you love. The advantage of justWink is that it allows you to send a card using your social media, like Twitter or Facebook, send it by email, or even use your Apple Watch. There are several categories to choose from, so this app is a keeper, even beyond Valentine’s Day. Not only that, but justWink also lets you choose to send someone a card to be hand delivered by your local mail carrier.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Make love with: iKamasutra ($3)


If you would rather keep your Valentine’s Day celebrations private and at home, maybe you want to surprise your significant other with some new skills in the bedroom. iKamasutra details hundreds of sexual positions in different categories, all nicely drawn and explained. The app also lets you track your progress through the positions and make a favorites list. Each position is rated by intimacy, complexity, and strength to help you find the right one for you and your partner.

Download now for:

Android iOS

Find poetry with: POETRY from The Poetry Foundation


You may not be a great poet, but you can always find great poetry to share with the one you love. After all, it is the thought that counts. You can search through a huge database of poets from Shakespeare to the great Pablo Neruda. Save your favorite poems and share them on social media. The search function is fantastic: even if you aren’t familiar with the name of the poets, you can just search by themes or categories. You’re sure to find some wonderful poems to start Valentine’s Day the right way.

Download now for:

Android iOS

London fintech Soldo launches multi-user expense account for businesses


Soldo, the London-based fintech startup founded by Carlo Gualandri, who previously helped create Italy’s first online bank, is rolling out a new product in the U.K. today aimed at businesses who need to deploy and manage expenses across an entire company.

Similar to Soldo’s original offering, a multi-user spending account aimed at families, Soldo Business lets companies “delegate, control and track” departmental and employee spending in real-time.

It combines a Soldo account, central dashboard, apps for iOS and Android, and virtual wallets or physical ‘pre-paid’ cards that can be handed out to employees, departments and even external consultants or contractors.

The latter, of course, is made possible by the granular spending controls that are at the heart of Soldo’s tech stack. This allows for different expense criteria for each employee, contractor or spending department, with permissions set and all spending trackable centrally.

For example, cash limits can be set and companies can choose to block online payments, cashpoint withdrawals and foreign transactions.

In addition, the Soldo Business mobile app lets users add transaction information and photos of receipts, while the whole system integrates with commonly used business accounting packages.

On competitors, Gualandri had this to say: “We continue to see ourselves as a companion to a traditional bank account (which is needed anyway for a company of a certain size) rather than a replacement like Tide, and one important difference with the others is that we are launching a fully functioning product that companies can start using right away”.

Facebook message this chatbot to know how to hit on a woman with respect

Image: Feminist Wingbot/Facebook

Valentine’s Day can certainly be empowering too.

A woman in Singapore has created a feminist wingman in the form of a Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Message the Feminist Wingbot and it’ll deliver a stream of pick-up lines for that lady you’d like to deliver a pick-up line to — in a respectful way.

The bot aims to help people “impress that feminist in your life” by providing these empowering pick-up lines, complete with relevant gifs:

The chatbot was created by Dillah Zakbah, resident creative technologist at Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s Singapore office.

Zakbah told Mashable that she was inspired to build the Feminist Wingbot from recent events such as the Women’s March on Washington

“It is apparent that the ‘third wave‘ (of feminism) is now a shared topic that is of interest to most females,” she said. “There are a lot being talked about equality and feminism in the workplace, home (and) career, (but) not much about love life.”

The chatbot now has roughly 50 pick-up lines, some Zakbah wrote, and others repurposed from pop culture references.

Zakbah wants to show that “there can be many ways to impress a feminist.” She adds: “I just wanted to use this as proof, that you can be funny and cheeky, get the attention of the ladies without being too much of a jerk.”

Musical.ly launches another video-centric app in the form of Ping Pong

Why it matters to you

Musical.ly is the biggest app since Snapchat among younger users. Now, it’s hoping its 100 million members will adopt its latest video messaging app, dubbed “Ping Pong”

Musical.ly, the social platform for creating and sharing short videos beloved by teens, is releasing a new app to build upon its success.

The Chinese startup (which, by its own account, boasts 100 million users on its flagship service) recently debuted a new video messaging offering for iOS entitled “Ping Pong.”

There’s just one major problem: the app isn’t currently allowing sign-ups. Having installed Ping Pong, we tried logging in with a Musical.ly account, and signing up via Facebook and Twitter, but were denied. The app didn’t even offer an error message, it just got stuck on a loading screen until we were forced to quit. We pointed out the issue to Musical.ly in an email, but have yet to receive a response. Ping Pong could be in test mode ahead of its public debut, claims TechCrunch, which first spotted the app.

More: YouTube begins rolling out live-streaming, starting with creators

With that in mind, here’s what Ping Pong is all about, in case you’re still interested in downloading it in the hopes that Musical.ly gets around to giving it a proper launch (we’re presuming it will). Ping Pong lets you record and share video messages with friends asynchronously, in the vein of Snapchat and Marco Polo. However, judging from its App Store description, it doesn’t seem like Ping Pong offers customization features like its rivals.

Whether or not Musical.ly’s large collective of younger users adopt Ping Pong remains to be seen. The startup has reportedly already found success with its Live.ly live-streaming service, released last summer. Just three months after its launch, the app had already overtaken Twitter’s Periscope on iOS with almost 4.6 million monthly active users, according to Variety. And, last month, Musical.ly quietly dropped a group video chat app for iOS in the form of “Squad,” which immediately drew comparisons to Houseparty (the buzzing comeback app from the makers of live-streaming also-ran Meerkat).

Ping Pong is available to download on iOS now. This is a developing story — we’ll update this article with more info as and when it is released.