Down To Shop is a tongue-in-cheek mobile shopping network

Cyrus Summerlin and Max Hellerstin, who previously created the Push for Pizza app (which allowed users to order a pizza with the push of a button), are officially launching their new startup today, Down to Shop.

The app bills itself as both a modern reinvention of QVC and “the funnest way to shop.” It allows users to watch funny videos featuring products that can be purchased directly from the app.

In an email, Hellerstein said the pair created Down to Shop out of dissatisfaction with existing advertising and e-commerce. Summerlin described it as “a hypermedia commerce platform.”

“We’ve created a self aware, fun and entertaining, interactive environment that gets customers to engage with brands like never before — because they want to,” Summerlin said. “What a concept!”

To do this, Down to Shop says it has recruited a creative team of Upright Citizens Brigade alums and Instagram influencers like Wahlid Mohammad to star in its shows, which are written, filmed and edited in the startup’s Los Angeles studios. The content is built around four-week seasons, with daily episodes across five shows each season.

Down to Shop

You can actually download the iOS app now, then swipe through different videos and games. Judging from the videos available at launch, the app is holding true to its promise of “content first, advertising second,” with laidback, tongue-in-cheek shows that also happen to feature promoted products.

By playing games and watching videos, you also earn Clout, the in-app currency that be used to make purchases. As for the products available to purchase, the company says it’s already working with more than 60 brands, including Sustain Condoms, Dirty Lemon (water) and Pretty Litter (cat litter).

Down to Shop’s investors include Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau and Firstmark. The startup isn’t disclosing the size of its funding, but according a regulatory filing, it raised $5.9 million last fall.

Say no to plastic water bottles: Brita filter pitchers and others are on sale for Earth Day at Walmart

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There's no better Earth Day present than saving up to 1,800 plastic water bottles per year.
There’s no better Earth Day present than saving up to 1,800 plastic water bottles per year.

Image: brita

Not so fun Earth Day fact: The planet’s CO2 levels are out of control

Earth Day is a great way bring some attention to the crisis — but to really offset that carbon footprint, we need to be actively thinking about our usage on the daily.

It could be a smart thermostat to reduce electricity usage, an at-home coffee maker to prevent using a new Starbucks cup every week, or a credit card that supports sustainability.

Today, we’re focusing on those damn single-use water bottles: Instead of buying a 24-pack that will eventually end up in the ocean, a reusable bottle and at-home filter pitcher can get you that clean sip you want without an overflowing recycling bin. And for Earth Day, a ton of filter pitchers from Brita, Zerowater, and more are on sale at Walmart. 

SEE ALSO: Here’s a superb reason to ditch your plastic bag addiction

These BPA-free pitchers act as a guard, protecting you from lead, copper, mercury, and other impurities in tap water, giving you store-bought quality water without the waste. By keeping a reusable water bottle in your bag or car at all times, you can cut out the need to grab one at every convenience store you’re in.

Here are the models on sale:

Apple could release a 5G iPhone as early as 2020

An ultra-fast iPhone could be in your hands by the end of next year.
An ultra-fast iPhone could be in your hands by the end of next year.

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple may not have a 5G-ready iPhone in people’s hands this year, but all signs point towards a 2020 debut for the highly anticipated device.

TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seems to think so, anyway. Kuo is known for being generally spot-on when it comes to all things Apple, and in a Monday research note cited by CNBC, he said Apple could ship a 5G iPhone next year.

Specifically, Kuo said Apple will likely get 5G parts from both Qualcomm and Samsung in order to mass produce a 5G iPhone by at least September 2020. That’s the time of year when Apple usually announces its newest line of iPhones.

Samsung already has a 5G phone ready to go.

Samsung already has a 5G phone ready to go.

Image: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

This might only be possible because Apple settled its long-lasting legal disputes with Qualcomm last week. The iPhone maker will need Qualcomm’s extensive 5G resources to make a phone that’s compatible with the high-speed wireless standard, at least in the short term. 

Once Apple settled with Qualcomm, it seemed likely that a 5G iPhone would come sooner rather than later. Kuo’s note on Monday is only further confirmation of that theory. Prior to the legal settlement, some analysts believed Apple would take much longer to hop on the 5G bandwagon due to the difficulty of developing modems without Qualcomm’s help.

Most cities in the United States don’t have comprehensive 5G support yet, so it probably isn’t the worst thing in the world for Apple to wait until 2020 to release a 5G iPhone. Samsung is releasing its first 5G-compatible phone in the U.S. soon. 

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and other major carriers have begun planting seeds for 5G networks in the U.S. By the end of 2020, it could be much more widespread, making it a perfect time for Apple to capitalize on it.

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Beyond Meat files for a public offering

Beyond Meat, the meat replacement company whose packages of Beyond Burgers line grocery store aisles across America, has filed for an initial public offering.

The company is looking to raise roughly $200 million in the stock sale for its portfolio of burger, chicken and sausage replacements, selling 8.75 million shares of common stock at an upper limit of $21 per share that would value Beyond Meat at more than $1 billion.

The Los Angeles-based company’s public offering should be a nice windfall for the Chicago-based investors DNS Capital, an investment firm managing the private wealth of the Pritzker family, and Cleveland Avenue, founded by former McDonald’s executive Don Thompson; as well as the venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins and Obvious Ventures.

Another winner from the Beyond Meat public offering is the corporate investment arm of Tyson Foods . The meat processor and marketer invested in Beyond Meat back in 2016.

All told, Beyond Meat has raised $122 million from investors, including Obvious Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Cleveland Avenue, DNS Capital, Tyson Ventures, Bill Gates, S2G Ventures and a whole host of other firms, according to Crunchbase.

While Beyond Meat has increased its revenues steadily — from $16.2 million when it began selling its wares in 2016 to $87.9 million in 2018 — the company is still a loss-generating machine. Its operations were in the red to the tune of $29.9 million in 2018, down from $30.4 million a year earlier.

With the public offering, Beyond Meat becomes the first venture-backed meat replacement company to list its shares, but there are other startups waiting to follow suit. Impossible Burger is another well-financed startup making burger alternatives, as is the current king of animal-free condiments, Just, which is looking at lab-grown meat on its product roadmap.

Supporting all of this investment activity is the potential to carve out a huge chunk of the $270 billion consumers spent on meat in the U.S. in 2017 alone. Globally, consumers bought $1.4 trillion of meat, according to data from Fitch Solutions Macro Research cited by the company.

Meanwhile, consumption of plant-based meat replacements in the U.S. is growing at a steady clip. In the first half of 2018, Americans bought $670 million of meat replacement products, according to a Nielsen study commissioned by the Plant Based Food Association.

Audioburst raises $10M to build AI-powered infotainment systems for cars, ad solutions

Audioburst, a startup that uses AI technology to extract the best bits from podcasts and talk radio to create new listening experiences, has raised an additional $10 million in strategic funding from Dentsu and Hyundai Motor Company. The new round is focused on helping Audioburst further expand into advertising and in vehicles. It also precedes the company’s planned launch into Japan at the end of 2019.

Dentsu and Hyundai join Audioburst’s other strategic investors, Samsung Ventures, Nippon Broadcasting, and Advanced Media, Inc., and bring the company’s total raise to date to $25 million.

The startup today ingests and indexes millions of audio segments per day, then uses AI technology — including Automatic Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding — to create products like a searchable library of audio, personalized audio feeds and news briefs, notifications and more.

Through an API, partners can integrate Audioburst’s personalized feeds into their own smart speakers, mobile, in-car infotainment systems and other products.

The investment from the international ad agency Dentsu, headquartered in Tokyo, will see the company working with Audioburst to create a market for personalized audio in Japan. Brands will leverage the technology to target listeners with more personalized ads based on an improved understanding of customers’ interests.

“Personalized advertising in the radio space has been limited to-date. In addition, the emergence of voice-activated services and audio content have provided a rapidly growing advertising opportunity for our clients,” noted Hideki Ishibashi, managing director of Dentsu Innovation Initiative, in a statement.

Audioburst is not alone in working to create personalized listening experiences as a channel for advertising — Spotify, for example, is doing this with music. And this year, it even opened up its flagship product, the personalized Discover Weekly playlist, to brand sponsorships. Pandora also lets advertisers personalize their messages by leveraging listener data. And as podcasts have become a new priority for streaming services like this, ad personalization will follow as listeners stream more non-music audio.

Meanwhile, Audioburst will work with Hyundai — which contributed half ($5 million) of the $10 million investment — to develop a new in-car infotainment system that includes a personalized audio search experience and playlists that customers can access via voice commands.

“At Hyundai, our mission is to have our cars connected by 2020 and provide our customers with the best possible in-car experience,” said Dr. Yun-seong Hwang, vice president of Hyundai Motor Company. “Partnering and investing in Audioburst ensures we will lead the charge in a data-driven first class audio experience.”

Hyundai’s investment follows a December 2018 Audioburst partnership with LGE, which focused on building new infotainment systems for automakers. That deal was the first to use Audioburst’s Deep Analysis API, which adds an additional level of metadata categorization in order provide a more in-depth understanding of the content users searched for. The Hyundai deal will now leverage this API, as well.

Audioburst also has strategic partnerships with Bytedance, Bose, Harman and more.

Smart thermostats save money and energy — and this one from Emerson is on sale at Amazon

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
The Emerson Sensi Touch features an HD touchscreen color display with back glow.
The Emerson Sensi Touch features an HD touchscreen color display with back glow.

Image: emerson

Earth Day is a great time to rethink the way your home is powered — is it sucking energy where you could be conserving it? There are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your home’s carbon footprint. For example, voice assistants give you the power to control smart home devices, so they’re only on when you’re actually using them.

Programmable thermostats save energy and save you money, especially when you’re able to control the thermostat from your phone anywhere you go. The Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi thermostat is a programmable smart device that can help you regulate your heating and cooling, and it’s currently on sale for $132.47 at Amazon — it’s listed at $169 on Emerson’s official website.

The Emerson Sensi Touch works with the HVAC equipment found in most homes, is easy to install, and can help you save about 23% on HVAC-related energy costs with features like geo-fencing, seven-day flexible scheduling, and remote access. Control the thermostat from your mobile devices or by using voice commands with smart home platforms like Amazon’s Alexa.

You’ll receive alerts when the Sensi Touch detects extreme temperatures and humidity levels in your home. Plus, the thermostat is Energy Star certified, so you know you can trust it.

Start saving money and energy with the Emerson Sensi Touch WiFi thermostat, on sale for $132.47 at Amazon.

Huawei’s business is doing just fine, despite US security risk accusations

Huawei on Monday said that its first quarter revenue jumped up 39 percent compared to a year ago, a sign that the Chinese company’s business continues to grow in the face of a US-led campaign meant to paint Huawei as a security risk. It was the first time Huawei released a quarterly report, according to CNBC, and the move was almost certainly intended to show that the US has failed to stunt the company’s growth.

Huawei said it had shipped 59 million phones in the first quarter and touted revenue of 179.7 billion yuan ($26.8 billion).

US intelligence officials have warned that Huawei’s network equipment — which is used by many carriers around the world — could be secretly retooled by China for espionage purposes. Washington has been pressuring other countries to keep Huawei out of their 5G infrastructure plans. But on Monday, Huawei brushed off those efforts by claiming it had shipped over 70,000 5G base stations in the first quarter of 2019 and signed 40 contracts to provide carriers with 5G equipment.

Huawei has steadfastly denied that it has or would aid China in spying, but the US insists the company would have little choice in the matter. Huawei’s well-regarded smartphones are not sold by any US carriers as a result of the security concerns. Most recently, there was a report about the CIA warning allies that Huawei has received funding from China’s security agencies.

Samsung reportedly pushes back Galaxy Fold launch

Can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Four days out from the Galaxy Fold’s official launch date, Samsung is pushing things back a bit, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal that cites “people familiar with the matter.”

There’s no firm timeframe for the launch, though the phone is still expected “in the coming weeks,” at some point in May. We’ve reached out to Samsung for comment and will update accordingly. When a number a reviewers reported malfunctioning displays among an extremely small sample size, that no doubt gave the company pause.

I’ve not experienced any issues with my own device yet, but this sort of thing can’t be ignored. Samsung’s initial response seemed aimed at mitigating pushback, writing, “A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.”

It also went on to note that the problems may have stemmed from users attempting to peel back a “protective layer.” Things took a turn to the more cautious over the weekend, however, when it was reported that the phone’s launch events in parts of Asia would be delayed (we reached out about that, as well, but haven’t heard back). Since then, a larger delay has seemed all but inevitable.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL start at $399 through Google Fi

Good Deals

Only the best deals on Verge-approved gadgets get the Good Deals stamp of approval, so if you’re looking for a deal on your next gadget or gift from major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and more, this is the place to be.

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In celebration of Google Fi’s birthday, Google is slashing the cost of its Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones for new and existing users. The Pixel 3 usually costs $799, but you can get it for as little as $399. Doubling the Pixel 3’s 64GB storage to 128GB only costs an extra $50. If you want the Pixel 3 XL, it starts at $449 for 64GB; the 128GB model is $50 more.

This offer is valid today, April 22nd, until 11:59PM PT, and you’ll only be able to reap the savings once per person. So if you have three members in your family plan, you can each get a discounted Pixel 3. As far as what strings are attached, Google only requires you to activate the phone on Google Fi within 30 days of when you receive the shipping confirmation email. There’s no restriction that keeps you tied to Google Fi, so you’re free to take it to any carrier after you activate since both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL work on all GSM and CDMA carriers. Google Fi might be a good fit if you don’t use a ton of data.

Google Fi is a pay-what-you-want MVNO that works on the back of T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular’s networks. Depending on your location in the US, Fi will kick you over to whichever carrier’s network can give you the best results in terms of coverage and network speed. Once you activate a phone on Fi, you’ll be able to use it internationally without swapping out a SIM card or paying extra for coverage and data.

Previously, Google Fi only worked on phones specifically made to switch between GSM and CDMA carriers, though it has since brought compatibility to practically all other Android and iOS phones, albeit in a more limited fashion.

Google’s Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are expected to be announced on May 7th at Google I/O. Both phones are likely to work with Google Fi, as all Pixels do out of the box. Rumors have divulged a lot of information about these midrange phones, including their respective 5.6-inch and 6-inch screens and Snapdragon 670 processors, but the price is still up in the air. However, considering that they may launch at around $399, this makes Google Fi’s birthday a great opportunity to save a lot on the higher-end Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL flagship phones.

Samsung delays Galaxy Fold launch after early display issues

Samsung is delaying the release of its first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold. The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung won’t release the Galaxy Fold until “at least next month” due to issues with review units that technology reporters have revealed. A string of reviewers found problems with the display, with it failing for a number of reasons.

Samsung was originally planning to release the Galaxy Fold on Friday, and the company has already postponed launch events in China. The Verge has reached out to Samsung for confirmation on the Galaxy Fold launch, and we’ll update you accordingly.