Score a 65-inch Samsung 4K TV on sale for $599.99 at Best Buy

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It’s officially crunch time for holiday gifting. If you have some pricier items on your list — i.e. a giant flat screen TV — you’re probably wondering why you didn’t jump on those Black Friday discounts while you had the chance. Well pay attention, because this may be your last chance at scoring a seriously good TV deal before you’re forced to face the holiday music and pay full price. 

Thanks to Best Buy’s “20 Days of Doorbusters,” this Samsung 65-inch 4K Smart TV is on sale for $200 off its listing price of $799.99.  

That means you can get a 65-inch 4K smart TV for only $599.99. (It’s a Christmas miracle!)

With epic 4K Ultra HD resolution (four times the resolution of Full HD) and an LED display, you’ll get a breathtakingly crisp, detailed picture that’s backed by a Dolby digital plus sound system with two 10-watt speakers — perfect for binge-watching. You’ll have access to all of your favorite streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, the works) plus a variety of games and more thanks to the TV’s built-in Wi-Fi and integrated apps. 

Better yet: Share your own content on the big screen. Mobile-to-TV mirroring will let you play home videos from your smartphone on the TV for family and friends. (It also features a USB port in case you want to connect a digital camera, camcorder, or any other compatible device.)

So if you’ve been itching for an upgrade or are looking to give a seriously epic gift this year, grab it on sale while you can here

Google relents and transfers Duck.com to DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo, the privacy focused search engine, has acquired Duck.com from Google, reports NamePros. Responding to rumors from a few days ago, CEO Gabriel Weinberg said that the new domain would make it easier for people to use the company’s search engine. The Duck.com domain was previously owned by Google, after it acquired On2 Technologies (previously known as The Duck Corporation) back in 2010. Neither Weinberg nor Google confirmed how much, if anything, was paid for the domain.

Google’s ownership of Duck.com was previously a source of frustration for DuckDuckGo, when it would redirect users to Google’s rival homepage instead of DuckDuckGo. Google kindly tried to clear up this confusion in July by adding a DuckDuckGo link to the page. Visiting Duck.com now redirects users straight to DuckDuckGo.

Duck.com was just one of the thousands of sites owned by Google, which has anywhere from several hundred to several thousand individual domains in its possession. These range from common misspellings of Google such as gogole.com, googel.com, or googil.com, to product names like gmail.com and chrome.com, to valuable unused domains with short names like Zero.com or Like.com.

Multilingual Indian video app Roposo raises $10M from Tiger Global and Bertelsmann

India has 22 official languages, which often presents a challenge for businesses that want to scale across the entire country. Video-sharing app Roposo, however, uses that to its advantage by offering content in several different regional languages. Based in Gurgaon, Roposo announced today that it has raised a $10 million Series C from returning investors Tiger Global and Bertelsmann, bring its total funding so far to $31 million. Roposo will use new funding for hiring, product development, and user acquisition.

Tiger Global first invested in Roposo’s Series A round and also returned for its Series B, according to Crunchbase. After an Indian startup funding spree, Tiger Global hit pause on new investments there for a couple of years before reportedly closing a $3.75 billion fund this year to focus on India, the U.S., and China. Roposo’s funding news comes a week after facility management company Facilio, another Indian startup, announced that it also received funding from Tiger Global.

Roposo originally launched as a fashion-based social network in 2013 before pivoting to videos in August 2017. It now claims 7.5 million monthly active users, 250,000 user-generated videos, and 160 million video views a day.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Mayank Bhangadia tells TechCrunch that Roposo’s pivot came from “a gradual evolution of the platform from a fashion social network into rebooting as a complete social video network to enter the next big level of game play.” Users still share videos about fashion, but now it is one of several topics, including music, comedy, spirituality, tech, travel, and current events (Roposo organizes videos into about 25 interest-based channels).

Roposo currently claims a total user base of 25 million. One obvious question is how the app plans to keep their attention as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram each aggressively promote their live-streaming video features.

One of Roposo’s key advantages is its focus on multiple Indian languages (it offers content in 10 so far), which gives it an edge in smaller Indian cities and towns. Bhangadia says it also differentiates by creating a TV-like viewing experience and offering editing tools that make it easy for people to start broadcasting (about 30% of Roposo’s users have created content). Video creators can also make money based on how much user engagement their content generates.

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

Uber Eats delivers meals to hungry customers in their home or workplace. Like Uber’s ridesharing service, the transaction — both request and payment — takes place via a smartphone app.

In a bid to make its service more competitive while at the same time increasing its efficiency, Uber Eats is looking at ways of encouraging customers located in a specific area to order from the same restaurant so that a single driver can deliver multiple meals in one journey.

Uber has been testing the service in India, according to TechCrunch. It’s called Uber Eats Pool, taking its name from Uber Pool, the part of Uber’s ridesharing service that groups riders together for cheaper fares.

As you might imagine, Uber Eats Pool uses algorithms and machine learning to serve up the right choices in the right places, and at the right time.

Here’s how it works. Uber Eats charges a restaurant a small fee for priority placement on the home screen of the Uber Eats app. The featured restaurant maintains its prominent position for a limited period of time, possibly just a few minutes if the restaurant reaches its limit for orders. It can’t stay up for long, either, as customers who order early won’t want to be kept waiting. In this way, the restaurant can expect a flurry of activity as its business features on the app and orders rush in.

The featured restaurant only shows for customers in a particular part of the city, giving the driver a better chance of delivering all of the meals before any of them turn stone cold. Importantly, to incentivize customers, a discount on the order is offered. There’s also a countdown clock that shows exactly how long they have left to order before the discount disappears, a mechanism that could certainly persuade (or pressure?) someone with a rumbling tummy to hit the order button more quickly.

“It’s similar to what we did with Uber Pool,” Uber Eats’ Stephen Chau told TechCrunch, adding how Uber Eats is using machine learning  to offer discounts at particular restaurants for particular customers in particular areas. “When multiple people order from the same restaurant, delivery drivers can pick up multiple people’s food,” Chau said.

Uber Eats hasn’t said when it might bring the system to the U.S., but if the trial goes well in India, we can imagine it landing in other markets before too long.

Uber Eats launched in 2014 (as UberFresh) as a lunchtime-only meal delivery service in San Francisco, New York, LA, Chicago, and Austin. It was originally part of the Uber ridesharing app, but in 2016 it released a standalone Uber Eats app and has since been launching the service in more cities around the world.

Of course, Uber isn’t the only outfit offering a meal-delivery service. In fact, competition in the space is tougher than ever. Digital Trends has put together a useful list of some of the best services available today.

Editors’ Recommendations

Apple’s HomePod at $249, one of the best deals this year, is back at B&H Photo

In case you missed the few opportunities around Black Friday to find the Apple HomePod for $249 — $100 off of its usual price — here’s another one. B&H Photo is offering a limited supply of the HomePod in both its black or white color options for $249. For perspective, $249 for a new HomePod is still $50 cheaper than Apple offers for refurbished models.

There are a lot of smart speakers on the market from the likes of Google and Amazon, but Apple’s debut to the space is unique in a few ways. It’s tailor-made for those who are all in on Apple products and services (though, not super friendly to those outside of that walled garden.) It’s small, yet it can fill most rooms with clear, detailed audio, and it’s compatible with AirPlay 2.

Each sale of the HomePod at this price point has sold through completely, so it’s likely that B&H Photo’s stock will deplete rather quickly, as well.

Puma revives its classic 1986 smart shoe, complete with ugly heel hump

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If you missed your chance to win a pair of Marty McFly’s self-lacing Nike sneakers, then how about grabbing a pair of Puma’s smart shoes from the same era instead?

You may be surprised to learn that the sportswear firm did indeed dabble in the market of high-tech footwear back in the mid-1980s, though as the world (as well as the technology itself) wasn’t quite ready for Puma’s innovation, its effort pretty much disappeared without a trace.

But Puma’s RS-Computer Shoe is making a comeback … fortunately with better technology than the original.

The first version of the shoe from 1986 had a custom-designed computer chip inside a protruding heel that automatically recorded the time, distance, and calories expended. The data could then be uploaded to an Apple IIe or Commodore 64 PC using a 16-pin cord. Yes, 1986 was a long time ago.

The relaunched shoe retains the overall design, as well as the distinctive heel hump that screams, “Look at me, I’m wearing a computer on my feet.” But thanks to the invention of the smartphone, as well as the arrival of much-improved components, the shoe’s smarts have been updated for the 21st century.

The 2018 edition replicates the original experience, but now you can use Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone with the dedicated RS-Computer Shoe app, while the shoe’s battery charges via a USB connector. In a nod to the old days, the app uses some clunky-looking 80s-style graphics and also includes a game with a similar look.

puma revives its 1986 smart shoe rs computer
Puma

Here’s a closer look at the RS-Computer Shoe:

Sensors: Each shoe is equipped with a miniature 3-axis accelerometer, which is used to measure the number of steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned.

Wireless Technology: The RS-Computer Shoe has a Bluetooth 4.0 radio transceiver and can be connected to an Android or iOS mobile phone. Once the Bluetooth is turned on, the shoe records and delivers data to the RS-Computer Shoe app.

Memory: The shoe can record for 30 days’ worth of data. Every new month is a fresh start. Throughout the month the runner can access all the stored data in a Monthly Statistics tab.

Keys and LED Light Indicators: There are two keys, Key 1 (Red/Red LED) and Key 2 (Black/Green LED). KEY 1 is used to show daily step target status, which can be set in the RS-Computer App while KEY 2 shows battery status.

Rechargeable Battery: The RS-Computer Shoe has an on-board rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. The battery can be recharged using the USB cable provided with the shoes. 

If you’re keen to get your hands on (or your feet into) a pair of Puma’s retro running shoes, you’ll have to be quick … and very lucky. The company is only selling 86 pairs globally from December 13 at Puma stores in Tokyo, London, and Berlin, as well as at select Kith stores. Some pairs will be available online for shoppers in the U.S. and Japan. The price is yet to be announced.

Editors’ Recommendations

Facial recognition tech spreads to car rentals

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Convenience comes at a cost.
Convenience comes at a cost.

Image: hertz/clear

Why take out your wallet and photo ID if a camera and software program can scan your face, verify your identity, and send you on your way in 30 seconds?

That’s what Hertz rental cars is asking with its new partnership with Clear, the biometric face and fingerprint scanning company you’ve seen at airport security checkpoints. 

At the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport this month, you can check out and drive off in your rental car with just a scan of your face (or a fingerprint reading). The offer only applies, however, if you’re a Gold Plus Rewards program member who’s signed up for Clear. Instead of showing an ID, you just look up at the camera from the car window and after scanning your face it matches the images against the database where your info is already logged.

The Fast Lane service will expand to 40 other airport rental locations in the next six months.

Hertz and Clear executives emphasized in a phone call Tuesday how this was about speeding up the check-out process. Instead of a two-minute average exit time to leave with your rented vehicle, the scan brings it down to 30 seconds, a 75 percent reduction in time. 

“Consumers expect less friction and more convenience,” Clear president Ken Cornick said.

“How it works, I don’t know, but I’m just glad it does,” a woman said in a testimonial video taken at the new check-out lanes last week.

It’s able to work so quickly because the software and cameras identifies you almost instantaneously. Ignorance around how it works, however, can be dangerous, especially if people don’t realize the unintended consequences of having their face or fingerprints trackable and potentially hackable.

“Biometrics are the best way to prove one’s identity,” Cornick said, adding that plastic ID cards are “outdated.”

Just look.

Just look.

Image: hertz/clear

The rental car scans come less than a week after Microsoft president Brad Smith warned about the dangers of facial recognition tech. Privacy issues — like situations recently seen in China with publicly shaming law-breakers — discrimination, and government misuse are all possibilities that stem from this convenience. 

Granted, the Hertz use-case is fairly harmless. But that’s how it always starts. Live Nation started using face scanning at its venues earlier this year, in yet another situation ripe for abuse and misuse. 

On iPhones the pervasive use of facial recognition is becoming mainstream and essentially priming a society for the tech in our everyday tools and devices. Even Facebook uses facial recognition to tag photos and posts.

But as Microsoft warned, “The facial recognition genie… is just emerging from the bottle,” and it might be driving off in a rented Ford Taurus. 

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Facebook building evacuated after reported bomb threat

A building on Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, which houses both Instagram and Facebook employees, has been evacuated Tuesday night after a reported bomb threat.

Menlo Park police confirmed on Twitter that its bomb squad was on the scene, and was conducting a search of the building. The threat was was initially called into the New York Police Department’s Crimestopper unit, according to a local San Francisco NBC report. Authorities in Menlo Park were then alerted. Only 200 Jefferson Dr. is being evacuated. The rest of Facebook’s campus was not told to evacuate at the time of this writing.

Concerns about safety at tech campuses in the Bay Area have risen over the past year, especially following a shooting at YouTube’s San Bruno campus in April. It’s unclear how many people were working when the call came in, sometime in the late afternoon on the West Coast.

This story is developing and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Facebook is still trying to find new places to put ads

It might seem like there’s already tons of ads on Facebook, but the company is still searching for new places to put more of them. 

The latest method that’s materializing is in search results, where Facebook is now experimenting with ads, the company confirmed. 

“We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it,” Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani said in a statement. 

Though not the first time Facebook had dabbled in search ads, it’s a significant move for the company, which is facing declining revenue growth.

For now, the ads will be an extension of those in Facebook’s News Feed. They’ll only be available to a limited number of people in the automotive and retail industry, according to the company. Facebook’s early partners can opt in to the new ads via the same ad manager tools they use to promote ads in the News Feed.

The new ad format is the latest sign that Facebook is still eagerly searching for new places to put ads. The company has been warning investors for some time that ads in News Feed are pretty much at capacity and that they still haven’t figured out how to monetize Stories effectively. 

Combine that with slowing user growth, and the only option left open to the company is to tap into new places on Facebook, which are not currently being monetized. (Likewise, the company is also eyeing new places to put ads in Instagram.)

So search, which is featured prominently and used by just about everyone on the service, is certainly a promising place to start. 

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Skullcandy launches its first truly wireless earbuds

Skullcandy announced the launch of its first truly wireless earbuds today, called the Skullcandy Push. The earbuds feature a large button on the side, which can be used to answer calls, switch audio tracks, and control the volume, in addition to activating your phone’s voice assistant to perform tasks like sending a message or setting reminders by triple-tapping that button.

The Skullcandy Push offers six hours of listening time, and placing the earbuds into a fully charged case can offer an additional six hours. That’s slightly longer than the Apple AirPods’ 5 hours of listening time, but the AirPods charging case boasts multiple charges that add up to 24 hours.

Skullcandy

The earbuds only come in one color, “Psychotropical Teal,” but they’re a vast improvement over the murky gray first seen in the company’s leaked FCC filing in November. The funky looking gel ear hook promises the earbuds won’t fall out, either.

The case is pretty chunky, not as pocketable as some other wireless earbud charging cases.
Skullcandy

Unfortunately, if you were looking for a pair of workout earbuds, you’ll have to look somewhere else. Skullcandy doesn’t recommend exercising with the Push, as they’re not sweat or water-resistant.

Skullcandy says the Push wireless earbuds will be sold exclusively at Target for $129.99 until the end of 2018, and will be available at select retailers starting January 15. If you happen to lose an earbud, Skullcandy will also offer a replacement earbud or charging case at a reduced price of $49 under its “Fearless Use Promise”. It’s a slightly better deal than what Apple offers, which is $69 for a replacement AirPod or charging case.