Google revamps its Google Maps developer platform

Google is launching a major update to its Google Maps API platform for developers today — and it’s also giving it a new name: the Google Maps Platform.

This is one of the biggest changes to the platform in recent years and it’ll greatly simplify the Google Maps developer offerings and how Google charges for access to those APIs, though starting June 11, all Google Maps developers will have to have valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account, too.

As part of this new initiative, Google is combining the 18 individual Maps APIs the company currently offers into only three core products: Maps, Routes and Places. The good news for developers here is that Google promises their existing code will continue to work without any changes.

As part of this update, Google is also changing how it charges for access to these APIs. It now offers a single pricing plan with access to free support. Currently, Google offers both a Standard and Premium plan (where the premium plan included access to support, for example), but going forward, it’ll only offer a single one, which also provides developers with $200 worth of free monthly usage. As usual, there are also bespoke pricing plans for enterprise customers.

As Google also today announced, the company plans to continue to launch various Maps-centric industry-specific solutions. Earlier this year, the company launched a program for game developers who want to build real-world games on Maps data, for example, and today it announced similar solutions for asset tracking and ridesharing. Lyft already started using the ridesharing product in its app last year.

“Our asset tracking offering helps businesses improve efficiencies by locating vehicles and assets in real-time, visualizing where assets have traveled, and routing vehicles with complex trips,” the Maps team writes in today’s announcement. “We expect to bring new solutions to market in the future, in areas where we’re positioned to offer insights and expertise.”

Overall, the Google Maps team seems to be moving in the right direction here. Google Maps API access has occasionally been a divisive issue, especially during times when Google changed its free usage levels. Today’s change likely won’t create this kind of reaction from the developer community since it’ll likely make life for developers easier in the long run.

Source: Tech Crunch

Cambridge Analytica shuts down in light of ‘unfairly negative’ press coverage

Cambridge Analytica is done. In light of the sprawling controversy around its role in improperly obtaining data from Facebook users through a third party, the company will end its U.S. and U.K. operations.

In a press release confirming the decision, the company said that “unfairly negative media coverage” around the Facebook incident has “driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” making its business no longer financially viable. The same goes for the SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s U.K.-based affiliate and parent company:

Earlier today, SCL Elections Ltd., as well as certain of its and Cambridge Analytica LLC’s U.K. affiliates (collectively, the “Company” or “Cambridge Analytica”) filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the U.K.  The Company is immediately ceasing all operations…

Additionally, parallel bankruptcy proceedings will soon be commenced on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and certain of the Company’s U.S. affiliates in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

On Wednesday, just before the company went public with its news, Gizmodo reported that employees of Cambridge Analytica’s U.S. offices learned that their jobs were being terminated when they were ordered to hand over their company keycards.

Given its already fairly shadowy business practices, it remains to be seen if this is really the end for Cambridge Analytica or just a strategic rebrand while it waits for the “siege” of negative media coverage to cool off.

Source: Tech Crunch

Match stock is tanking in light of Facebook’s dating play

On the heels of Facebook announcing its intent to add a dating element to its platform, dating company Match’s stock is suffering. Match is the brand behind dating services like Tinder, Match, OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish.

At the time of publication, Match’s stock was trading down about 22 percent.

Facebook’s entrance in this space brings it into direct competition with Match’s bread and butter,

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the dating functionality will be a standalone feature that will focus on legitimate long-term relationships, rather than just hookups.

Bumble is another competitor that may be affected by Facebook’s new service, but the company says it’s “thrilled” about today’s news.

“Our executive team has already reached out to Facebook to explore ways to collaborate,” a Bumble spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Perhaps Bumble and Facebook can join forces to make the connecting space even more safe and empowering.”

Source: Tech Crunch

New Oculus Venues app organizes live VR events under one roof

Oculus made good on a lot of their promises from last year at today’s F8 keynote, one of the big ones that we heard a lot more about was Oculus Venues, an app the company has developed to house live sporting events, comedy shows and concerts shot in VR.

The unified app will feature content from a bunch of different partners including stuff from startups like NextVR, which has been among the most prolific in terms of streaming sporting events from its own partnerships with the NBA, NFL, NHL and WWE. They have also streamed concerts via a partnership with Live Nation.

“Oculus Venues is a bold move to provide profound social VR engagement and we are honored to deliver such an important part of this new product release from Oculus,” NextVR CEO David Cole said in a statement. “NextVR has built a passionate fan base around leading VR content experiences. Venues will satisfy our fans who want to enjoy this type of content on a massively social scale.”

The app is launching May 30 on Oculus Go and the Gear VR.

Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook will soon bring 3D photos to the news feed

Facebook made a small but interesting announcement at the end of its F8 keynote today: you’ll soon be able to post 3d photos to your newsfeed. For now, we know very little about this feature — or even how you’ll capture these photos — but chances are you’ll see them pop up in your friends’ status updates in the coming months.

How exactly Facebook will pull this 3D effect off, which looked pretty good in today’s demos, but also quite limited in how ‘3D’ these photos actually are, remains to be seen. What’s most likely, though, is that Facebook will use some of its machine learning smarts to power some of this, especially given that the company also announced its (somewhat odd) ‘3D memories‘ feature today which uses machine learning to recreate the scenes of old photos in VR.

Facebook already supports 360-degree photos and video in the news feed, so the addition of 3D photos makes perfect sense in this context. For now, though, we’ll have to wait and see how exactly this will work.

Source: Tech Crunch

Oculus hopes Boggle will help VR users get social in updated Rooms app

Among all of the other announcements that surfaced today during the F8 keynote, only one of the announcements involved Boggle.

Oculus announced a bug update to its social platform, Oculus Rooms which brings a redesigned space with cool new features designed to keep people coming back to the app.

This is a big update to Rooms which takes a lot of the cool features from other social VR apps (including Facebook Spaces) and brings them all together. What’s most impressive is how much they are able to accomplish inside a space you can only control with a simple controller.

You can bring friends into the environment and navigate through your giant video screen which you can watch videos, full-length movies and more on.

What’s actually quite fun is that Oculus has partnered with Hasbro to start bringing board games into its VR social space so that users can play games while they chat or watch videos in VR. Rooms will be starting with the game Boggle and will soon be adding Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit experiences to the app. This comes in addition to non-branded games like Chess and checkers which are also available.

The updated app is available now.

Source: Tech Crunch

Just 48 hours left until Disrupt SF 2018 price hike

We’re rounding the far turn and heading into the home stretch, folks. You have a mere 48 hours left to snag the best pricing available on passes to Disrupt San Francisco 2018, which takes place September 5-7 at Moscone Center West. Right now, you can save up to $1,800, but once the calendar clicks over to May 3, prices go up. Save some dough, and buy your passes today.

This is the only North American Disrupt event this year, and you simply can’t afford to miss out. You can expect 10,000+ attendees, more than 1,200 startups and exhibitors, not to mention three program-packed days of world-renowned speakers, workshops, exhibits, networking and demos.

We’ll have four separate stages with a content focus on these 12 hot-topic tracks: AI, AR/VR, Blockchain, Biotech, Fintech, Gaming, Healthtech, Privacy/Security, Space, Mobility, Retail and Robotics. You can bet those topics will be reflected in Startup Alley — the show’s exhibition floor and the very heart of Disrupt — where each day features a new roster of some of the best emerging tech, talent and products.

We’re absolutely thrilled that Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston will dispense his wit, wisdom and perspective from the Disrupt SF stage. True fact: Houston pitched Dropbox in the TC 50 Startup Battlefield back in 2008. Take a moment to go back in time and watch the original pitch and demo. It may have been awkward but, clearly, his Startup Battlefield story had a happy ending.

Think you have what it takes to make it to the Startup Battlefield stage? Apply here now and, while you’re at it, use the same form to apply to exhibit for free in Startup Alley as a TC Top Pick. Who knows? Maybe you’ll raise a huge round and be a speaker at Disrupt SF in the future. It could happen.

Whether funding is your aim or your game, you’ll want to know about  — and take advantage of — CrunchMatch. It’s our free, curated platform that simplifies the way founders and investors find each other, set up meetings and conduct business. Needle in a haystack? No problem. Job done.

And there’s still more. Like Q&A Sessions that bring speakers and attendees together for moderated discussions in a smaller, more intimate setting so you can dive deeper into new technology or ask questions about topics raised on the Main Stage. And after parties that leave room for both fun and serious networking.

Disrupt SF 2018 promises to be a value-packed conference of epic proportion. Don’t miss out on the best price possible. You have 48 hours. Get your passes now.

Source: Tech Crunch