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Uber aims to offer more wheelchair-accessible rides with shorter wait times

November 20, 2018 Alex 0

Uber has long received flack for its lack of widely available wheelchair-accessible rides. Today, Uber is taking steps to ensure riders who rely on wheelchairs can get rides when they need them, and without having to wait more than 15 minutes. That’s thanks to a partnership with MV Transportation, a paratransit service provider that operates across 30 states and Canada.

Through the partnership, Uber will be able to add hundreds of wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) to its platform across six markets. In New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Toronto, Uber riders can expect wait times of 15 minutes or less on average. Over the next year, the plan is to get average wait times in San Francisco and Los Angeles down to 15 minutes. Uber says rides in those eight cities account for half of all Uber trips in North America.

Because Uber doesn’t own any of the vehicles, the company has historically been dependent upon everyday people — many of whom do not have wh..

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Cloud communications platform Agora closes $70M Series C to create new developer tools

November 20, 2018 Alex 0

Agora, a developer of cloud communication APIs, will create products for new markets and verticals after raising a $70 million Series C led by Coatue Management. Existing investors SIG, Morningside Capital and Shunwei Capital also returned for the round, which brings Agora’s total funding so far to $125 million.

The startup’s APIs are used by customers, including The Meet Group, Xiaomi, Hike Messenger and Momo, to insert voice, video and group calling or broadcasting features into their apps. Agora claims it recently surpassed two billion installations of its SDKs and routes through its 200 distributed data centers around the world an average of 10 billion minutes of live communications each month.

The company is raising capital at a relatively fast pace to support its growth goals. Agora’s last funding announcement was made five months ago, when Agora said it had added a $30 million extension to its Series B, bringing that round to a total of $50 million.

Agora was started in 2014 ..

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On Black Friday, you’ll be able to watch the entire ‘Lego Movie’ in a YouTube ad

November 20, 2018 Alex 0

On Black Friday, YouTube says it’s teaming up with Warner Bros. Pictures to allow viewers to watch “The Lego Movie” for free as part of a promotion for the upcoming sequel.

YouTube recently (and quietly) began making certain movies like “Rocky,” “The Terminator” and “Legally Blonde” available for free, with advertising. This campaign is an interesting twist on that model, where the movie viewing experience isn’t just subsidized by ads — it is, in fact, part of the ad.

So if you search for “Brick Friday” or “LEGO Movie 2” on YouTube, you’ll see a promoted video from Warner Bros. with the new trailer for “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.” If you click on the video, you’ll also have the option to watch “The Lego Movie” in its entirety, ad-free (as the movie itself is the ad).

YouTube says the promotion will only last for 24 hours, on Black Friday — or, if you insist, Brick Friday — itself. As of midnight Pacific time on November 24, the movie will no longer be available for free. (Yo..

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Google, Apple, and Uber must share mapping data with rivals, says UK data group

November 20, 2018 Alex 0

Tech companies like Google, Apple, and Uber should be forced to share mapping data with rivals firms and the public sector, the UK government has been advised by a data advocacy group.

In a report published today, the Open Data Institute (ODI) said that “data monopolies” were stifling innovation in the UK. These companies duplicate one another’s efforts, said the report, while using their large financial clout to gain insurmountable leads over would-be rivals. If they shared data, they said, then many services and new technologies — like drone delivery services and self-driving cars — would benefit.

“The large companies are becoming more like data monopolies.”
The ODI is an influential group in the UK, co-founded by Tim Berners-Lee,…

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Battlefield V review: war never changes

November 20, 2018 Alex 0

Fighting Nazis is timely again, and yet Battlefield’s return to World War II feels ill-advised. Endless war has taken a toll on this series, and the generals need a new strategy.

I’ll start with some praise. Despite its flaws, Battlefield V is a breathtakingly cinematic game, and it has all of the relentless chaos that fans expect. In my experience playing a press preview of the game, there were only a few bugs (mostly funny ones, like corpses wobbling in midair), and the game retains the series’s recent level of polish. Control inputs feel tight and fluid, everything looks really nice, and the user interface is better than ever, which are all real accomplishments. Battlefield V is an unquestionably well-crafted object.

But as I was…

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YouTube now runs pop-ups on videos that warn users of EU copyright proposal

November 20, 2018 Alex 0

If you watch YouTube videos without a YouTube Premium subscription, you’re familiar with the tiny pop-ups that appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the stream that prompt users to sign up for YouTube’s ad-free service.

It seems that YouTube has replaced that pop-up with a new message that warns users about the European Union’s proposed copyright directive. It also offers an explainer on one particular act known as Article 13. The pop-up brings YouTube viewers to the company’s standalone website detailing the possible effect of Article 13, which puts the onus on YouTube to prevent copyrighted material from appearing on the platform. YouTube executives like CEO Susan Wojcicki and head of business Robert Kyncl have penned exhaustive…

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