Misfit Wearables, the Khosla and Founders Fund-backed startup that builds elegant activity tracking hardware, is patching up a weak spot with the launch of its new Android app today.
It was something that prospective customers balked at when the company launched back in the summer.
Misfit makes the Shine, a quarter-sized activity tracker that's popular among women and costs about $99.95. The team behind the product is an experienced one that built the first medical device that was approved for use with the iPhone - a glucose meter. Those relationships helped them secure key distribution partnerships with all Apple stores worldwide, Best Buy and some Target locations.
It has a paired app that syncs through Bluetooth with a cool animation, and pulls in all of your activity data in day-by-day graphs.
They're bringing the Android version to market today, at least a month earlier than they had promised. They had pledged to have a live Android version “early next year.” Early reviews show that it's crashing on some devices, though Misfit says it has fixes coming in the next version.
Earlier this week, they also released an update to the app that brings some social features - users can see when their friends are passing them in points and get regular alerts. Jawbone has a similar feature where you can compare yourself against friends.
Count YouTube cofounder Jawed Karim among those who's not a fan of forcing YouTube commenters to have a Google+ account. As The Guardian notes, Karim this week posted a comment on his YouTube page asking "why the f--- do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?" Google has claimed that it's requiring commenters to have Google+ accounts to help them "see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator, popular personalities, engaged discussions about the video, and people in your Google+ Circles," and thus deliver a more personalized experience. Even so, Google's assurance that the new comments system is being put in place for users' benefit is unlikely to quell critics who think the company is cynically trying to find yet another sneaky way to foist Google+ on everyone.
So this is what CrunchWeek is like without adult supervision.
Leena Rao and Colleen Taylor, the show’s two regular hosts, were both out of town this week, but there was still plenty of news for TechCrunch writers — specifically Greg Kumparak, Alex Wilhelm, and me — to talk about. We weighed in on the anticipation around Twitter’s IPO filing (and what was revealed in its S-1 filing), the shutdown of anonymous Bitcoin marketplace Silk Road, and reports that Amazon is developing its own smartphones (one of them with a whopping four cameras).
By the way, apologies for the occasional bursts of random background noise. I blame the gremlins hiding in the TCTV studio.
Research by U.K. telecoms regulator Ofcom has found that tablet usage among children is on the rise, with growing numbers of younger kids, especially, turning to tablets to watch videos, play games and access the Internet.
The annual report into children’s media consumption habits also records a drop in the overall number of children between the ages of 5 and 15 who own a mobile phone, with the percentage falling from 49% last year to 43% in 2013. It’s the first such drop since the survey began, back in 2005.
Ofcom says this decline is mainly down to a steep fall in the proportion of younger kids (8-11) owning a basic mobile phone (as opposed to a smartphone). Basic phone ownership among the latter age-group stood at 28% last year and has fallen steeply to 15% this year. Bottom line: you can’t even flog feature phones to tweens.
But, while basic phones are being ditched by kids, tablets usage is rising across the board. Among the younger kids’ age group, 18% own a smartphone, and the same proportion own a tablet. However the report notes that while the smartphone figure is “largely stable” year-on-year, tablet ownership has grown four-fold since last year, when it stood at just 4%.
As you might expect, smartphone ownership is much higher among older children (12-15) than 8-11s, with the older group being likely to be more interested in using connected devices to communicate, rather than primarily looking for a gadget to watch audio-visual content and play games (likely why tablets, well suited to the entertainment use-case, are doing so well with younger kids category). But even among the older group, the report found that tablet usage is on the rise.
The majority (62%) of 12-15-year-olds own a smartphone, according to the research – a proportion that Ofcom said is unchanged since last year — vs just over a quarter (26%) who own a tablet computer. The latter figure is up considerably on last year when just 7% said they had a slate.
Ofcom said the use of tablets has tripled among 5-15s since 2012, rising from 14% to 42% over that period. While just over a quarter (28%) of infants aged 3-4 now use a tablet computer at home (albeit, this age group is likely using a tablet owned by their parents).
Similarly, tablet usage is rising rapidly among 5-7 year olds (now at 39%, up from 11% last year) and 8-11 year olds (at 44%, up from 13%). The report notes that these very young Internet users are five times more likely than last year to mostly use a tablet when accessing the Internet at home (at 19%, up from 4%).
“Tablet computers are growing fast in popularity, becoming a must-have device for children of all ages,” it adds.
As tablet usage grows, more traditional devices are inevitably being used less to go online. The report found that the proportion of children mainly using a laptop, netbook or desktop computer to access the Internet has fallen to 68% — down from 85% in 2012. While twice as many children as last year are mainly using other devices to go online, with tablets (13%) and mobiles (11%) the most popular device choices.
As the number of Internet-connected devices continues to proliferate, it’s also no surprise that the traditional TV set is becoming less of a focal point for kids’ entertainment too. Compared to last year, the report found that children are more likely to watch programmes on devices other than a TV, such as a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Nearly half (45%) of children aged 5-15 are doing so, up from 34% last year, it notes.
Interestingly, the research flags up an apparent change in social media habits among kids. For the first time, fewer children have online social media profiles, with 12-15s much less likely to say they have a profile on any device (68% this year, down from 81% last).
“The mix of social media used by children is evolving. While nearly all 12-15s with an active online profile continue to use Facebook (97%), they are now less likely to have a profile on Bebo (4%, down from 8% last year) and more likely to have a profile on Twitter (37%, from 25%),” the report notes.
Other social networks with a growing profile among this age group include YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr:
Instant messaging is also rising in popularity with this age group. The research found that 12-15s are now less likely to go online weekly to visit social networking sites (67% vs 75%) and more likely to go online for instant messaging (55% vs 45%).
Kids with smartphones send an estimated 184 instant messages in a typical week, according to Ofcom’s data. One bright spot for carriers: traditional text messaging (SMS) remains a highly popular way of communicating for youngsters, especially those aged 12-15. These teenagers send on average 255 SMSes per week, up from 193 last year.
What are younger kids generally using the Internet for? Schoolwork is the most mentioned activity carried out at least weekly by 8-11s (75%), followed by games (54%) and finding information (45%), according to Ofcom’s data.
Weekly use of the Internet for telephone or video calls is also on the rise among children vs. last year’s research (now at 10%, up from 5%), as is going to photo-sharing websites (at 5%, up from 2%).
Swedish startup Memoto did well on Kickstarter – well enough to earn the company 11 times its funding goal, or $550,000 to drive the creation of its lifelogging camera. The small camera is designed to be worn on your person, features no buttons and takes pictures constantly while worn, but as of today it’s called the “Narrative Clip,” not the Memoto, as its creators rebrand to Narrative with $3 million in new funding. Both the rebrand and the new money will help Narrative expand on a global scale, the company says.
Memoto was a problematic name for global ambitions because it conflicted with the name of something else in the same market, the company explained in a release, so to make sure it didn’t run into any problems with trademarks worldwide, the Stockholm-based startup made the tough decision to switch to Narrative for their branding, which is pretty fitting, especially since now there’s freedom to develop more products beyond just the eponymous camera.
The design of the newly remained Narrative Clip remains the same, however, so pre-order customers can expect the same device to ship to them. And Narrative now has even more money in the coffers in addition to its big Kickstarter raise, thanks to a $3 million round led by San Francisco’s True Ventures. True Ventures has previously invested in hardware startups including MakerBot and Fitbit, and Narrative’s aims are somewhat parallel to those of Fitbit, with more of an emphasis on quantifying non fitness data. The round also included LDV Capital and London’s Passion Capital, which has backed photo sharing apps including EyeEm and Loopcam in the past.
The Narrative Clip should ship by November to the first customers, according to Narrative, and the $279 debut product is still available for pre-order in grey, white and orange. The device takes a photo every 30 seconds, and passes along geolocation data as well as date and time information to an online service that keeps track of your logged photos and makes them available to review or share. Photos are 5 megapixels, and the device has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to two days.
Narrative might face a small challenge in terms of building on its existing momentum with completely new branding, but the lifelogging camera is still in very early stages, and hasn’t even shipped hardware yet, so the name switch is unlikely to drastically affect its chances at success. Early sample photos suggest this kind of scattershot approach at social photography could have some very lovely results, too, so I’ll be more interested to see how the Narrative Clip gets used by its first batch of owners as they set out to leave no stone undocumented.