So how do you actually win one of these prizes? Well, you’ll have to be pretty vigilant about monitoring Twitter. Starting at 9:00 a.m. ET tomorrow, June 7, follow @TMobile on Twitter and reply to #Thankiversary tweets. Those of you who reply, retweet, and are engaged with T-Mobile’s posts will have a higher chance of winning. You just have to keep your eye on the prize.
WWDC — Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference — is a week-long convention showcasing the world’s most valuable technology company’s latest innovations. It is where the company demoed the Power Mac G5 in 2003, the iTunes App Store in 2008, and Apple Music in 2015, and it was no less newsworthy this year.
We head about Apple’s Siri-powered smart home speaker, a new iPad Pro 10.5, and big updates to all four operating system platforms: iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and tvOS. Here is everything Apple announced during the WWDC keynote.
How to rewatch WWDC
If you missed the live-stream of the WWDC keynote address from the McEnery Convention Center on Tuesday, good news: Apple archived it for posterity. You will need to meet certain prerequisites to watch it, though.
If you are on a Mac, you need Safari 6.0.5 or newer and Mac OS X v10.8.5 or later. On a PC, you need Windows 10 and Microsoft’s Edge browser.
What Apple announced
Apple gave an overview of iOS 11, the next major version of the operating system on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, at WWDC.
Perhaps the most obvious improvements are a redesigned app drawer and a new Control Center with more apps shortcuts, but other changes have to do with Apple’s core services.
The App Store has been completely redesigned. A Today tab shows a scrollable list of cards featuring new games, apps, and updates, and clearer demarcations between categories make apps easier to find. Also new is editorial content: Apple’s App Store curators will publish how-to guides and lists like App of the Day and Game of the Day.
Apple’s rolling out peer-to-peer payments with iOS 11 — you can send money to friends and family, and transfer money to your bank — and better syncing between devices. When you delete an old message in iMessages, for example, some of that conversation will now sync some of your conversation history in iCloud.
A machine-learning platform, which it Apple calls Core ML, lends a hand in other areas. It does palm rejection on the iPad and can recognize images six times faster than the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8.
That same artificial intelligence powers Apple’s new augmented reality platform: ARKit. Using techniques like motion tracking, plane-finding, and ambient light estimation, iOS 11 devices can identify surfaces like tables and orient digital objects on top of them. A new Ikea app lets you sketch out the design of a living room, and a Lego Batman app lets you move blocks around on a table. (Pokémon Go will support ARKit later this year, Apple says.)
A new Memories feature uses AI to identify sporting events, weddings, and more, and Live Photos taps machine learning to trim down videos and use any part of them as a featured photo.
iOS 11’s new Maps, meanwhile, uses AI for indoor navigation for select locations, including 30 airports and eight cities. There’s lane guidance in turn-by-turn driving directions, and a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that switches off your phone’s screen when you’re driving.
Apple’s new iOS ships with enhanced home control. A revamped AirPlay — AirPlay 2 — supports multi-room audio on hardware from Polk, Bose, and Apple’s own Beats brand. And new developer tools — MusicKit — give apps access to Apple Music playback data.
The developer of iOS 11 is available now and it will launch publicly in the fall. Check out our guide on how to install it.
“Just like iPad reinvented music in our pockets, HomePod is going to reinvent music in our homes,” Apple hardware chief Phil Schiller said.
Apple’s Siri-powered speaker matches the competition’s feature set blow for blow. It looks a little like the Mac Pro and packs high-end hardware including seven speakers, “precision acoustic horns,” a four-inch woofer, and Apple’s A8 processor.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple’s HomePod uses real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation to automatically adjust the sound to the space around it. And it works with an Apple Music subscription to play tracks directly from the cloud.
The HomePod, like Amazon’s Eco speakers and Google Home, supports voice commands with the help of Siri. You can follow up, “Hey, Siri,” with commands like, “Play Beats 1 Radio,” and, “Play I’m Poppy.” And at launch, HomePod will support news updates, messages, reminders, podcasts, sports, translation, stocks, weather, and more.
HomePod can control HomeKit devices, too, including Philips Hue bulbs and connected ovens from General Electric. You can ask it about the current temperature (“Turn the temperature to 73,”) or the lights (“Are the lights on?”)
Apple stressed that HomePod’s voice data is fully encrypted and that only voice data immediately following the “Hey, Siri” command is recorded.
The HomePod will ship for $350 when it goes on sale later this year, and come in two colors: White and space gray. It will go on sale in December first in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
MacOS 10.13, the operating system that powers Apple’s iMac and MacBook lineup, finally has a name: High Sierra.
Performance is the focus. High Sierra ships with Apple’s new file system, APFS (Apple File System), which optimizes Flash/SSD storage and boasts features like strong encryption, space sharing, copy-on-write metadata, cloning for files and directories, and snapshots. And a new version of Apple’s low-level Metal graphics tool, Metal 2, boasts driver optimizations and support for virtual reality engines like Unity, Unreal, and Steam VR.
MacOS High Sierra is available to developers now, and enters public beta in June.
The iPad Pro, Apple’s flagship tablet, received a major upgrade at WWDC.
The iPad Pro 10.5 and the iPad Pro 12.9 boast sleek, slim designs and revamped software with a focus on productivity.The tablets’ Retina displays, which have the same physical footprint as the iPad Pro models they’re replacing, feature narrower bezels and Apple’s True Tone technology, which automatically adjusts the color temperature based on surrounding lighting conditions. They also boast wider color gamut, as well as Pro Motion, a new innovation that uses a combination of software and hardware to improve the iPad Pro’s screen refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz.
Under the hood of the new iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9 is Apple’s six-core A10X processor and 12-core GPU, a significant step up from the iPad 9.7’s processor. But despite the performance improvement, the new iPad Pro models last an impressive 10 hours on battery.
Those are not the only improvements in tow. Infinity Photo, an editing tool, lets you mock up photos in real time. Notes has a built-in document scanner that the Apple Pencil can launch from the iPad Pro’s lock screen. And a new app — Files — provides access to the iPad’s on-device storage. You can search tags across third-party storage providers, and dive into nested folders, recent documents, and even iCloud content.
Finally, Apple revamped some of the Apple Pencil’s tools. You can mark up any document that prints using AirPrint, and create a PDF — or handwritten email via iOS’s Mail app — on the fly. Even better: Handwriting is searchable across apps.
The new iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad 12.9 ship next week. Both come with double the base storage — 64GB of memory versus 32GB — and start at $650.
Apple introduced a bevy of new Macs at WWDC.
The company’s refreshed iMacs have better, brighter displays than the current generation — up to 500 nits (43 percent brighter), with 10-bit dithering and support for up to a billion colors. And they pack Intel’s Kaby Lake processors, 10-bit HEVC decoding, and up to 32GB of RAM (on the 21.5-inch model) or 64GB of RAM (on the 27-inch model).
They also ship in a bevy of graphics and connectivity options. The 21-inch iMac has an Iris Plus Graphics 640 chip with 64MB of eDRAM; the iMac Retina has Radeon Pro 555 or 560 GPU with up to 4GB of VRAM; and the iMac Retina 5K 27-inch has Radeon Pro 570, 575, or 580 graphics with 8GB VRAM. All come with USB Type-C ports and support for Thunderbolt 3.
The new iMacs start at $1,100 for the 12.5-inch and $1,300 for the 4K iMac.
The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro got price cuts and upgrades. Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup now sports Intel’s Kaby Lake processor and updated graphics in the 15-inch configuration. And the 13-inch MacBook Pro now starts at $1,300 — $200 less than it used to be.
Apple also gave a sneak preview of the iMac Pro, which ships later this year. It’s the “most powerful Mac ever,” and features “dual centrifugal” fans and an eight-core (up to 18 cores) processor. Radeon Vega graphics are in tow, plus 16GB of VRAM, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a 10GB Ethernet port.
The iMac Pro’s starting price is $5,000 and it will be available in December.
Apple ran through the highlights of WatchOS 4, the newest version of the operating system on the Apple Watch, at WWDC.
There is a new dock that lets you vertically scroll through recently used apps and a new watch face that “proactively” displays an information using the “with the same kind of intelligence” as Siri. Pull it out during your commute to work, for example, and you’ll get traffic and weather info.
An updated Apple News app lets you save news to read on your phone, and the Apple Watch’s Workout and Activity have been redesigned. There is an auto-set for pool workouts that indicate when you completed a lap and personalized achievement updates that guide you through workouts “intelligently.”
A High-Intensity Interval Training mode is in tow with Watch OS 4’s new fitness suite, plus monthly challenges and Gym Connect, which lets you use your Apple Watch’s NFC radio to pair with gym equipment. An NFC reader works with treadmills and bikes from Matrix, StairMaster, Schwinn to show your metrics in real time.
Last but not least, WatchOS 4 ships with new animated faces — including some featuring characters from Pixar’s Toy Store. It is available as a developer preview and will launch on existing Apple Watches later this year.
Apple announced improvements to Siri, its voice assistant, at WWDC.
The newest version of Siri uses deep learning to pronounce words more naturally and interpret languages. As of now, Apple’s assistant supports translation between English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Siri’s also becoming “predictive.” Thanks to iOS 11’s on-device learning framework, it can surface news articles, create calendar appointments, and respond to messages with your current location. It’s completely private, Apple said and synced across iOS devices.
New video-on-demand services are heading to tvOS 11, the newest version of Apple’s entertainment-centric Apple TV operating system. Apple announced that Prime Video, Amazon’s streaming platform, will be available on tvOS “later this year.”
“We launched it with support from just a handful of video channels,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on stage. “Now 50 partners integrated into the TV app.”
If you’ve spent any time in Silicon Valley offices you’ll see the ubiquitous bottles of Hint water splashed out along kitchen counters and desks. Kara Goldin, this week’s Technotopia guest, created the water after discovering that diet soda was making her overweight and overwrought and she has a lot to say about the future of food and drink.
Goldin talked to us about what the food chain will look like in 20 years and why it’s so broken now. You can check out Hint water here or just watch the HBO show Silicon Valley where all the lads drink it endlessly.
The deal was led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Santander Bank.
The company says this financing will fund its continued growth and allow it to refinance existing debt. (MediaMath’s 2014 funding round included $105 million in debt.)
In a note to MediaMath employees, CFO Stacey Bain said this doesn’t mean the company chose more debt “instead of” an equity funding round: “In fact, this line of credit allows us to be flexible in terms of how and when we decide to raise another round of equity, ensuring we get the best deal for MediaMath.”
And while the IPO market seems to be improving for tech companies (including, perhaps, adtech), Bain also wrote that this isn’t setting MediaMath up for an IPO: “Right now, we like operating privately and we’ll explore an IPO when and if it makes sense for MediaMath.”
The company says it now has nearly 700 employees and works with all of the major ad holding companies.
“We’re thrilled to work with Goldman Sachs and Santander, who are equally ambitious to support the growing scale of our business today, and motivated to support the needs of a reimagined and increasingly sophisticated supply chain in the future,” said CEO Joe Zawadzki in the funding release.
Apple is working on a way to bring businesses to iMessage platform, in order to answer customer questions, offer customer service and even perform transactions. Though not announced at WWDC, a new page on Apple’s Developer site briefly details this new service, dubbed “Business Chat,” which will be able to operate across platforms, including iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
Further details about how Business Chat are not yet known – according to Apple’s website, the service will be introduced on Thursday, June 9th, at a WWDC session.
Business Chat sounds a lot like Apple’s attempt to move into a space where social networks like Facebook and Twitter today dominate. Twitter has recently doubled down on customer service, with a variety of new tools like welcome messages, quick replies, custom profiles, location sharing, chatbots, and more.
Meanwhile, Facebook, which now has 1.2 billion monthly users, has made doing business on Messenger a part of what it means to operate a Facebook Page. It also has support for things like business usernames on Messenger, automatic greetings, short and memorable links for promoting a business’s Messenger presence, chatbots, transactions, and more.
Though more details are still forthcoming, there are things we can learn now about Business Chat from the short description on the Apple Developer website. For starters, Business Chat will be deeply integrated into the iOS operating system and within Apple’s own native apps. The idea is that when a consumer is looking up business information, instead of simply being presented with a phone number to call as on Google, they’ll instead have the option to start a chat session using iMessage.
Apple says customers will be able to find businesses and then start conversations from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and Siri. In addition, Apple touts that Business Chat will be integrated with other services, including Apple Pay for transactions, and Calendar. It also notes that businesses can bring their own iMessage app into the conversation.
The image on the website shows a Business Chat session in action between an Apple support representative and a customer inquiring about iPad recommendations (naturally). The session looks just like any other iMessage chat conversation, except the banner at the top of the screen is a dark gray and the chats are in shades of gray, instead of blue and gray text bubbles.
Also worth noting is that the business in question in the image (Apple), seems to have what looks like a Verified checkmark next to its name. The Verified badge is something that Twitter popularized, but is also available on other social platforms like Facebook and Instagram where it’s used to indicate that the profile in question is the official one representing the brand or public figure, as the case may be.
Presumably, Business Chat would roll out to the public when iOS 11 ships this fall.
While taxis have had some trouble competing with Uber and Lyft until now, the tables may finally be turning.
New York finally has an answer to Uber and Lyft. Today, yellow taxis found a way to hit back at the Silicon Valley, California-based transportation giants by way of a new partnership between the on-demand ridesharing services firm Via, and taxi app Curb from Verifone
Regardless of which app you use (Curb or Via), you’ll be able to carpool with other riders who are headed in the same direction, and thereby share the cost of a cab. Similar to Uber Pool or Lyft Line, passengers will be directed to a nearby corner for both pick-up and drop-off, which means more efficient routes and quicker riders.
“We’re delighted to offer a new lower-cost option for taxi riders while simultaneously increasing earnings for hardworking New York City taxi drivers with more passengers, longer trips, and reduced downtime,” said Amos Tamam, senior vice president of Verifone Taxi Systems. “This latest app integration marks yet another milestone in the transformation of Verifone’s connected taxis around the world into a smart transportation platform.”
Ultimately, both companies believe that this collaboration will allow New York taxis to move more passengers from Point A to Point B than would be possible without this tech. And of course, carpooling is better both for the Earth and for your wallet.
“At Via we’re committed to reducing congestion and emissions in major cities with a fully dynamic network of shared vehicles,” said Daniel Ramot, CEO and co-founder of Via. “Everyone benefits when we increase the efficiency of vehicles on the road. Cities benefit from reduced congestion and emissions, riders benefit from affordable and convenient transportation options, and drivers benefit from a system optimized to increase their earnings. We’re excited to deploy our technology for the first time in New York City taxis, one of the largest and most important taxi fleets in the world.”
You’ll be mesmerized when you lay eyes on the color-changing glass exterior of the HTC U11, but a big repair bill awaits anyone who drops it. The shiny surface looks great, and it’s tougher than your average glass, but scratches and cracks are still a concern. We’re pleased to find that you do get a solid, minimalist case in the box with the U11, which offers a little protection without masking the the phone’s design. If you want something a bit tougher or stylish, however, then check out the HTC U11 cases below.
Incipio DualPro Case ($30)
The DualPro case from Incipio is of the original dual-layer designs, and features a hard, polycarbonate shell with a soft-touch finish, which is wrapped around a flexible interior that will take the sting out of any impact. This is drop protection you can trust, because the case has been tested to withstand falls from up to 12 feet. HTC’s Edge Sense technology still works with the case on, too, so you can still squeeze your phone to launch the camera or other apps. Color offerings include black, gray, navy, and our favorite — merlot.
Buy it now from:
Spigen Rugged Armor Case ($14)
This eye-catching TPU case has carbon fiber panels and glossy accents that help it to stand out from the crowd. It’s flexible, so it’s easy to fit around your phone, and there are air cushions inside to help dissipate shock when it takes a tumble or gets bumped. A slight lip also extends around the screen to protect your device when placed face down, and there are covers for the volume and power buttons. Moreover, accurate openings ensure you can use your phone’s camera and the USB Type-C port without any problems.
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You can be certain that this leather flip case from HTC will fit your U11 like a glove. The soft, durable leather exterior is neatly stitched and comes in gray, white, or black, with a subtle HTC logo on the front. Inside, there’s a shell to hold your U11 in place, along with openings for your phone’s various features. This U11 case is slim and stylish, and provides good protection for your screen.
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If you like a holster and belt clip with your case, then this budget offering from Nagebee will surely be tempting. The case consists of a layer of soft silicone and a polycarbonate frame, which slots on top and covers the corners. The frame also packs a handy kickstand to prop up your U11 in landscape view, and you’ll find the usual range of cut-outs for your phone’s ports, camera, and other functions. The inner layer comes in black, red, or teal, and there’s even a version with a camouflage frame. Plus, the holster and belt clip come standard.
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The standout feature of this case is the ring holder, which you can slide a finger through to ensure you don’t drop your U11. You can also rotate it 360 degrees, use it as a kickstand, or attach it to the dashboard on your car. The case itself is made of a transparent polycarbonate panel and a malleable TPU bumper, which currently comes in black, clear, teal, and rose gold varieties. The case won’t provide rugged protection, but there is a lip around the screen and simple button covers to protect your investment.
Buy it now from:
The iPad has never been a full-fledged computer. At its launch back in 2010, it was mocked for having a large screen without a typical large-screen operating system like macOS or Windows, and it was dismissed as just a bigger iPhone. But, as it turned out, people found a whole bunch of really cool and enjoyable uses for that enlarged iPhone, and even as iPad sales have slowed over recent years, Apple’s tablet has proven enduringly popular among those who’ve acquired one. At WWDC 2017, Apple underlined its commitment to pushing the iPad as its next computing platform, and for the first time ever, it even has me interested.
In all the time it’s been around, I haven’t been able to answer the question of who the iPad is for. It’s often been the wrong question, mind you, as the iPad shows its strengths best when it’s serving narrowly defined purposes and applications: a sketching pad for some, a comic book reader for others, and a great way to show off pictures for all. But with the changes to how the iPad works in iOS 11, Apple is ready to answer the question of who the iPad is for in a bold and emphatic way: it’s foeveryone. What this latest generation of Apple’s tablet represents is a maturation into a truly versatile and powerful computer, thanks to Apple’s usual mix of tightly integrated hardware and software upgrades.
iOS 11 is a software update dedicated almost entirely to the iPad Pro. It brings better multitasking, drag-and-drop functionality, access to the device’s file system via a new Files app, and even an auto-hiding app dock that works strikingly like the one in macOS. The app switcher from Apple’s desktop operating system has now made its way to the iPad. For so many years it was macOS that was leeching iOS features up into the desktop environment, but with iOS 11 Apple is taking on the harder task of bringing macOS versatility to its mobile devices.
By itself, iOS 11 looks like a laudable advance, but it’d be an incomplete solution for people who’ve traditionally favored laptops, the incumbent one-size-fits-all computer of choice. People like me. But what’s happened over the past year is a vast, if subtle, upgrade in the hardware capabilities of Apple’s portable devices. The iPhone 7 brought with it the new A10 Fusion chip, which has ungodly amounts of performance and can legitimately rival Intel’s most power-efficient offerings for ultraportables and 2-in-1s. Now in its A10X Fusion form for the iPad Pro, this processor is the key that unlocks a whole new tier of capabilities and functionality from Apple’s tablet.
During the WWDC keynote, I saw the new iPad Pro used with the Affinity Photo app to do some complicated image blending and reprocessing work, and every task was accomplished almost instantaneously. Apple has also upped the refresh rate of its new iPad Pro to 120Hz, which will mean even smoother animations while helping lower latency for stylus input down to a supposedly industry-leading 20ms. And yes, as usual for a new iPad release, the new 10.5-inch Pro model has the best and loveliest display Apple’s ever made.
With performance that’s edging into laptop territory, and now software that’s bridging the gap to a desktop operating environment, the iPad Pro’s established advantages over something like a MacBook or MacBook Pro grow in significance. After the MacBook Pro was downgraded in terms of ports and other pro features last year, I’m now much more open to tolerating the iPad’s limitations in order to gain the benefit of its strengths. That would be things like better battery life, easier portability, and a substantially lower price, starting at $649 for the latest iPad Pro.
One of these new 10.5-inch iPad Pros, with its reduced bezels and still vanishingly thin profile, is much easier to tote around than any MacBook Pro. Reducing the footprint of a device is much more impactful nowadays than shaving a few extra millimeters off its thickness, and I can envision a daily carry scenario for myself where an iPad Pro shrinks the size of bag I need to use. There are some really lovely and small camera bags — like the Domke F-803, for instance — that work really well with just an iPad slotted in, but struggle to fit a proper laptop. Well, now maybe I no longer need a proper laptop if I have something that’s close enough.
Judging by Craig Federighi’s excitement, iOS 11 on the iPad is by far the biggest news today. And I agree.
— Vlad Savov (@vladsavov) June 5, 2017
Getting to grips with the iOS 11-powered iPad Pro at Apple’s event yesterday, my colleague Jake Kastrenakes noted that he never felt like he could move quickly and efficiently around iOS before, but the new version is the first one that feels like it could change that. I’m on exactly the same page: iOS has always felt like a more leisurely way to use a mobile device, not quite the lean and mean productivity workhouse that I could sculpt together in macOS. But with more robust split-screen multitasking and the ability to float additional apps and picture-in-picture video on the screen, I foresee finally being able to get Real Work done on an iPad.
Being able to manipulate files in the self-explanatory Files browser is basically the tipping point: I get the extra degree of control I’ve always felt has been missing on iOS, and now I’m wondering exactly what I’d be losing if I switched to doing my research and writing on one of Apple’s tablets. Sure, I’d need to hunt down a good third-party keyboard, but there’s never a shortage of good accessories for Apple devices. By making the changes it’s made in iOS 11, Apple looks to have successfully attracted professional holdouts like me while still retaining its touch-friendly and accessible interface for the majority of others.
The computer I use most often at home is a Chromebook Pixel 2. Like the iPad, the Chromebook started off very spartan but evolved over time and gained just enough of the conventional OS capabilities to feel like a legitimate machine for getting work done. It’s still fundamentally built around the Chrome browser, but it also has a file system, a basic photo editor, and a few other niceties that leave me missing only Adobe’s powerful editing suite. This article is written on that very Chromebook, and the next meal I have will be paid for with the money I make from that writing, so I’m quite confident in saying that a Chromebook can be a professional computer. So why not an iPad?
Some might point to the iPad’s lack of mouse input or external monitor support, but consider that even a fully specced-out $2,000 ThinkPad wouldn’t have those when you’re cradling it in your lap on a packed train en route to work. And unlike a Windows laptop, Apple’s iOS is designed with touch input from the start, so an iPad has the advantage of being tailored to situations of limited space. The inconvenience of working on the move is the iPad’s great equalizer. That’s also why I’m not too worried about the limited number of apps I can run side by side or the relative paucity of memory on iPads. Those limitations, which Apple is gradually loosening anyway, are less oppressive when working in a truly mobile environment.
Productivity these days comes in many forms and sizes, and I’m starting to buy in to Apple’s premise that the next frontier for it will be the iPad, Pro or otherwise, rather than the MacBook, the latter of which got only the most token of spec upgrades at WWDC 2017. Another thing I notice from Apple’s promotional materials is that in almost all photos of the new iPad, there’s the Pencil stylus somewhere in the vicinity, hovering with productive intent. Of course, that’s not solely Apple’s idea, as Microsoft has pushed the idea of pen computing and 2-in-1 devices through its Surface Pro line for years, and Google has recently also joined in with the S Pen-equipped 2017 Samsung Chromebooks and its initiative to bring Android apps to Chrome OS.
We always knew the future of computing was mobile — because the present already is — but this year we’re seeing what that means beyond just the ever-present smartphone. The traditional laptop clamshell is being broken up, styluses are all the rage, and the lines between mobile and desktop software are being eroded into nothing.
This isn’t the final step to the iPad becoming a computer, but it’s certainly a major one.
New Yorkers are about to get even more friendly!* Today, Via and Curb are bringing ride-sharing through a digital wallet to yellow taxis in the Big Apple.
Both apps will let New Yorkers hail a yellow taxi with a ride-sharing option, with Via’s intelligent routing platform ensuring that the driver takes the most efficient route possible on multi-passenger rides. The service can save users up to 40 percent on taxi rides, and the move this morning should catch the attention of Uber and Lyft with their competing UberPool and Lyft Line products.
But let’s rewind.
Verifone has been working with yellow taxis for years to provide technology like credit card terminals, digital meters, driver tablets, and passenger tablets. In August 2013, the company launched Way2Ride, letting smartphone users hail a taxi with their phone for the first time, pay for those rides with their smartphones, and effectively taking on Uber.
In October 2013, Verifone bought Curb (an existing ride-hailing app) and sunsetted Way2Ride while transferring users over to the Curb app.
For the last year, Curb has allowed to pay for the taxis they’re in after hailing with their hand, simply by downloading the app and punching in the code on the backseat screen of the taxi. The app also lets users hail cabs with their phone.
Verifone powers two-thirds of NYC’s approximately 15,000 cabs, and Curb to date has “a couple million accounts set up” and powers “several hundred thousand trips a month” according to Jason Gross, global head of product and marketing for taxis at Verifone. Gross added that NYC’s Curb is used for payments more often than all the other mobile wallets combined.
Meanwhile, Via has been around since September 2013, differentiating itself in the market by focusing primarily on multi-passenger rides and making them more efficient. Via works by looking at all drivers and all passengers to route the fastest, least cumbersome multi-passenger rides.
Via’s VP of Communication Gabrielle McCaig said that Via has 800,000 members who have signed up for the service, with more than 15 million rides across the markets Via serves (NYC, Chicago, and Washington D.C.).
With this partnership, users on either app can take advantage of ride-sharing in NYC’s yellow taxis, regardless of which app they use to hail the cab.
Gross explained that Verifone is interested in being a platform (like the App Store), instead of building out all the technology it wants for taxis on its own.
Given Via’s prowess with regard to multi-passenger rides — Via has raised upwards of $130 million in funding — Verifone/Curb brought the app into the fold to power routing for all ride-sharers in NYC Taxis. Meanwhile, Via can leverage Curb’s infiltration of the NYC Taxi market to reach more users.
Verifone licenses technology to taxi vendors, including individual taxi owners and fleet owners to bring better technology into their cabs.
Though Via and Curb wouldn’t disclose exact figures, the companies confirmed that the deal is based on a revenue share between the cabs, Via and Curb.
New Yorkers feeling friendly this morning can go check out the Curb and/or Via app themselves and ride to work with one of their fellow New Yorkers.
Lyft is adding yet another new name to its growing list of official self-driving partners — and this one already has an established track record of putting autonomous cars on real life streets.
The ride hailing company just announced a new agreement with nuTonomy, the MIT-founded startup that was the first to test a self-driving program carrying passengers alongside real traffic on city streets. That pilot program started in Singapore in August 2016, beating Uber’s Pittsburgh program to the road by a month. There, nuTonomy teamed with ride-hailing app Grab to connect with the public on a limited basis.
The new partnership between Lyft and nuTonomy will aim to put self-driving cars on the streets of nuTonomy’s home city, Boston, where the startup has been conducting road tests since late last year. The pilot program will be the first time Lyft uses self-driving cars for its fares — but if the company’s plans come to fruition, it will be far from the last.
The first stage of the partnership is to be based around research and development (R&D) to fine-tune the rider experience, which Lyft CEO Logan Green called “the first step” in understanding the how the platform will operate on a call with members of the press ahead of the announcement.
“We’re focused on creating a great end-to-end experience,” he said, but he provided precious few details about exactly what that meant. He claimed that there will be rides available in the nuTonomy autonomous vehicles immediately in one moment, and in another admitted that there would need to be a development period before that can happen.
Following the call, a Lyft spokesperson confirmed that a public component to the program “would be at least a few months away,” pending “explicit regulatory approval” to avoid an Uber-esque fiasco.
When asked exactly how many vehicles will be involved in the pilot, Green had no specifics to share. He said to start the size of the fleet was “TBD,” but that engineers from Lyft and nuTonomy are currently working on the platform on several vehicles to integrate the systems. Ultimately, the goal is to have “thousands of vehicles” on the road in the future; when that future will be exactly was left unclear.
The cars, which will be Renault Zoe electric cars like those used in the Singapore program, will be owned by nuTonomy, which has a separate partnership with Renault’s parent company, the PSA Group.
The Lyft app will be tweaked for the self-driving pilot, and Green hinted that it will be extended into the car with a version of the app running on a console inside the vehicle.
The program is headed to Boston largely due to nuTonomy’s ties to the city — the startup spun out from MIT and still calls Boston home. nuTonomy CEO Karl lagnemma called Boston “open and collaborative,” on the call before stating that the tests currently underway there added to the decision.
Spreading out the playing field
Lyft now has three deals tied to autonomous car development in place; the ride hailing company also has pacts with Google’s Waymo and GM, which also invested $500 million in the company and holds a seat on Lyft’s board of directors.
Lyft unsurprisingly looks at the agreement with startup nuTonomy on a separate scale from the other arrangements. “What we’re doing with other partners are very different,” Green said on the call.
“Our work with each partner is unique and differentiated per partner,” Lyft’s reps told us in a follow-up email. “We are not disclosing the details of the work we are doing with each partner.”
Even if the company won’t comment on the its separate engagements, a pattern is emerging: Lyft isn’t betting on one horse to bring autonomous ride-hailing services to the masses. It will cut deals with smaller start-ups touting well-established track records just as soon as it will with the biggest tech and automotive companies in the world. Lyft will team with anyone — as long as they have a good chance at ushering in the next generation of autonomous mobility.