Smart diabetes management service Livongo Health raises $52.5M and looks to new markets

Glen Tullman doesn’t like it when someone tells him he’s sick when he’s feeling fine.

It’s something he thinks his customers probably don’t want to hear, either. Tullman runs a startup called Livongo Health, which offers a blood glucose monitor accompanied with a service designed to intervene and help coach people through managing diabetes. Livongo Health helps with best practices, but is also designed to intervene before things start to get bad. And Tullman hopes that by collecting enough data and applying the right technology, they can create a tool that will be able to figure out the right touch for getting people to manage — and care about — their chronic conditions.

To do that, Livongo Health has raised an additional $52.5 million in a round led by General Catalyst and Kinnevik. The actual product is a cellular-connected blood sugar monitor, which takes your blood sugar readings and then sends that information to Livongo Health’s monitoring services. If the reading falls outside of normal bounds, the company will flag that person and offer some kind of recommendation — like drinking a glass of fruit juice, or going for a walk. If it strays too far out of the norm, they’ll get a call from a specialist who will walk them through what to do next.

“Person using it has to love it,” Tullman said. “They can’t just like it, otherwise they won’t use it. We can help them, but only in the moment. Context matters. If I called you up and said, ‘I can be there in 15 minutes to fix a flat tire,’ you’d say why are you bothering me. But if you had a flat you’d be like, ‘that’s awesome,’ and you wouldn’t ask how much it costs.”

That last part is meant to be one of the big selling points of Livongo Health, because Tullman said the service aims to get a call to the person within 90 seconds after the reading comes through. The company seeks to reduce the barrier to getting people to use the devices as much as possible. For example, strips for blood sugar tests are also free, and all the data is stored and is easily accessible so the users don’t have to constantly take notes on what their current status is.

At the moment, Livongo Health is focused on diabetes management. But given that the company has been able to wedge itself into the budgets of payers and into the minds of consumers, it seems natural that it would treat it as a launch point. Tullman said the next step, in addition to trying to expand internationally, is to also grow into management for other chronic diseases. Many people who manage diabetes might also deal with other chronic conditions, Tullman said, like hypertension or depression.

Livongo Health works with self-insured employers and pharmacy benefit providers to offer the company’s products to prospective patients as an option. While the company is only a little more than three years old, Tullman says it’s already collected enough data to demonstrate that Livongo Health is able to save as much as $100 a month for payers in the long run.

Early on, it might be difficult to get a profile of what a patient may be like. Further down the line Livongo Health could let a user know that their blood sugar doesn’t typically change that much in the afternoon, but early on the company still needs to capture as much as they can about the person. But starting off, Livongo Health is able to get some basic information from the payer and then will ask simple questions while they’re waiting for their blood sugar tests to complete to help build that profile.

From a purely market perspective, it’s clearly an important one given the amount of activity. There are multiple different kinds of startups — like Siren Care, which weaves sensors into fabrics for tracking problems associated with diabetes — trying to help build products for managing diabetes. There are also other startups working on diabetes management like One Drop. Still, this amount of financing gives a company like Livongo Health a robust budget in order to continue expanding beyond just creating a good hardware and on-the-spot experience for managing diabetes.

“[Tullman] and I sketched this business out on a piece of paper and we have been involved from the start,” General Catalyst partner Hemant Taneja said. “[The] core thesis was that technology could make a difference in the lives of millions of consumers with diabetes and other co-morbidities and our customers are finding that to be the case. Consumers are enrolling in large numbers and saving on healthcare costs for their insurance companies and employers.”

Scaling the educator network might be one of the more difficult parts. The human touch at the end is one of the most important parts of the experience, Tullman said, but it still has to intelligently divvy up the limited number of educators it has among the thousands — or, in the future, potentially millions — of customers in order to ensure that experience blankets its entire user base. That could easily spiral into a problem of just getting enough bodies into the door, but Tullman said a lot of the development being done is on ensuring that those coaches are able to figure out what are the highest-priority patients.

“Only when you go out of range, really high or low, does a human intervene and talk to you, and because of that for about every 2,500 members we have a coach,” Tullman said. “It’s a bit like Uber, they work from home and have very sophisticated software they’re running to tell who they’re talking with and what they need. And, they still need to respond in 90 seconds. We know that if you think about it, for a million people, we need 400 coaches. If you think about 30 million, that’s 12,000 coaches — the American Association of Diabetes Educators has more members than that.”

Nvidia and Bosch team up on self-driving car AI supercomputer

Nvidia’s new partner in bringing AI-powered self-driving tech to the masses definitely has the experience needed to go truly mass-market – it’s Bosch, leading tier one auto industry supplier. Bosch will build an AI supercomputer designed for use in vehicles using Nvidia tech, which means Nvidia now has a partner that works as a tier one supplier to all major car maker in the world.

It’s only the latest partner for Nvidia’s AI-powered self-driving car tech, which also include automakers like Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but it’s the one that could potentially have the most impact in terms of giving Nvidia reach and influence across the industry. Bosch, the german company whose product portfolio ranges from home appliance, to infotainment solutions, to virtually everything in between.

This is the kind of strategic tie-up that lets both partners do what they do best – Nvidia can focus on developing the core AI supercomputing tech, and Bosch can provide relationships and sales operations that offer true scale and reach.

 Nvidia’s deep learning model does not depend on specific rules being coded for each individual situation; instead, it provides the systems with a number of examples from human behavior, and then the AI can determine on its own what to do in specific scenarios. The mid-step implementation of this tech is Nvidia’s AI co-pilot, which will allow the vehicle to work with a human driver to understand where their attention is directed and provide warnings about undetected hazards, as well as read a driver’s lips and use audio cues to understand commands regardless of the in-vehicle noise environment.

Bosch’s super computer will use Nvidia’s Drive PX line with Xavier architecture, which is the world’s first single-chip processor that can manage Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities.

Carbon moves into high-volume manufacturing with SpeedCell system, and bigger 3D printers

Additive manufacturing startup Carbon is on a mission to help manufacturers and designers cut their costs, waste less energy and materials while speeding up the time it takes to get from concept to product on the market. The company, which has raised $221 million in venture capital, is firing up a new service aimed at contract manufacturers, and other high volume manufacturing businesses, called SpeedCell, which includes an industrial sized version of its 3D printer and software that enables the use fleets of internet-connected Carbon 3D machines.

According to Carbon CEO and cofounder Joseph M. DeSimone, customer and partner requests from the likes of the BMW Group, GE, Sculpteo, The Technology House and others, pushed Carbon to develop machines for mass-production. “Once you have a real part that doesn’t look like a 3d-printed part, but has a smooth surface finish and the right mechanical properties, then what happens is people want lots of those parts,” he said.

Earlier, Carbon’s M1 3D printers became famous in tech and manufacturing for a couple of reasons. For one, they work with resins and “continuous liquid interface printing” technology, meaning they form objects with the same kind of strength you’d see in traditional thermoplastics. Secondly, they print ultra-fast when compared to peers. And finally, they are available on a subscription basis so smaller manufacturers and industrial design studios can afford them, and don’t have to worry about paying for equipment upgrades when new versions are released.

 The new M2 printers from Carbon, which are part of its SpeedCell system, have twice the build-area and therefore build volume of the M1 printer. That means users can make more parts per run or bigger parts than they previously could with Carbon. The M2’s were also designed to interface with robots, which are increasingly being added to factory operations. “You could have a fleet of printers serviced by robot-mechanics,” DeSimone said. And the M2 printers have expansion ports allowing Carbon users to plug in new that can add capabilities to the printers down the line.

With the launch of SpeedCell, Carbon is also taking the wraps off something called the Smart Part Washer. This machine helps users move freshly printed parts into a washer where they can be serialized, and data-scanned. This means manufacturers can automatically keep a record of which printer, day and location made a particular object, which resin was used and more. The washer will Carbon’s service particularly useful for the creation of medical products, and other items that require careful tracking of their provenance to satisfy safety regulations.

A Link to the Past

I chalked this up to the usual pre-release silliness; how could a brand-new game be anything like something released in 1986? It turns out I’d underestimated both Nintendo’s candor (understandable) and the timelessness of the first Zelda’s design. This leads to a strange paradox: That Breath of the Wild is so like its ancient ancestor makes it both the most Nintendo game in a long time and the least Nintendo game in a long time. Perhaps, after years of limping, the company has once more found its stride.

The similarities are striking. In both games, you begin in a rocky, forested wilderness with nothing but the clothes on your back and hardly any idea what you are to do. In a cave near your place of rebirth (in the original, it’s where you’d appear if you’d die; in BotW, it’s where you are literally reborn) you find a friendly old man by a fire who sends you on your way (he doesn’t give you a sword, but he does give you an important item later, and advises you on finding a weapon).

Armed thus in the most scanty fashion, you charge forth into the unmapped wilderness, where monsters swarm, countless secrets hide in the landscape, and a nebulously articulated quest beckons you forth from biome to biome and dungeon to dungeon.

One could say some of these things about a number of Zelda games, of course, but Breath of the Wild takes these parallels much further than any other.

zeldaoverworldmapq1bgThink back, if you can, to the time you first played the original Zelda. Remember how enormous the world felt, and how every screen seemed to hold potential.

How many bombs did you waste scouring the mountains for hidden rooms? How many times did you leave and re-enter a screen to try your Blue Candle on every suspicious tree? How proud were you when your painstaking searches of the graveyard revealed (in addition to dozens of ghosts) the resting place of the Master Sword? The world was so big you could barely wrap your head around it, and the feeling of discovery and triumph whenever you proved your worth in it was real.

Yet today’s game market is full of enormous open worlds that fail to elicit similar feelings; despite high production values, they often have the feeling of dolled-up checklists.

Breath of the Wild, however, successfully conveys that feeling of inviting grandeur.

Part of that is the lack of any impelling narrative, which allows you to appreciate the world at your own pace. Oh yes, you’re the legendary hero and you need to stop Ganon. That part hasn’t changed. But the game doesn’t constrain you into a series of quests.

 In the original Zelda, your starting screen has three exits. None is the correct one. It doesn’t tell you, “head north and look for the first dungeon!” You are free to wander, to encounter enemies you have no chance of beating, places and items you can’t reach and experience the controls and rules of the world for yourself, on your own time, in your own way. It’s like this again in Breath of the Wild.

Once you complete the initial handful of temples awarding you the core abilities and paraglider, you are free to go anywhere in the wide world — you’re encouraged, in fact, to just strike out in literally any direction from the central plateau on which you had hitherto been stranded.

switch-2270013And once you do, you find that the world is interesting not just for the waypoints you’ll be hitting — towers and shrines, mostly — but for the world itself. Hyrule is sculpted with such care that not a single prominence or declivity marks the land that does not invite you to visit it. I have had to stop myself from marking up my map with symbols — oh, that looks like a path that leads into that canyon. Oh, I think I saw something between those cliffs. Oh, if I get up there I can probably glide to the island in the middle of that lake. Wait, where was I going again? It doesn’t matter. You’re going where you’re going, and if you’re supposed to be somewhere, you’ll get there eventually.

zelda_1But all the time you are gently being taught: the flora and fauna around you, critical to (among other things) crafting dishes and elixirs that will save your life later. The habits of enemies, which have their own little lives and cycles. The limits of your own endurance — can you climb that? Not while it’s slippery with rain, but mark it and come back when it’s sunny. The formal and informal tricks of combat — well-timed dodges and parries can put powerful foes off balance, but why bother when you know that, in this storm, they’ll be struck by lightning before long because they’re using a metal sword and you’re using a wood spear? Usually nothing is explained to you until after you try it. After a few hours have passed, you’ve become an expert in the world, and all without cumbrous tutorials or invasive fairies whispering tips in your ear.

And all the time you are steadily growing more powerful: you likely dispatched your first Bokoblin with a straight-up stick picked up from the ground. But it had a better stick, which you took (every enemy drops the weapon it holds — why should it be otherwise?), and used to venture further. As you wend your winding way toward the outskirts of the map, you encounter more powerful enemies wielding deadlier tools and guarding more precious treasure. Every dungeon you encounter yields an orb, four of which you can spend toward increasing your heart count or stamina. By the time you get to your first real destination, you’re stronger by far than when you set out, and all you’ve been doing is exploring and solving puzzles.

zelda_2What a treat this natural, almost unnoticeable progression is after the artificial skill trees and ability points so common these days! Yet you are never wanting for challenges. Frequently enemies appear that can strike you down with one hit, or puzzles and locations that baffle you. You are always looking forward to overcoming something, finding something, figuring something out.

This is what we’ve been missing; This is why we trust Nintendo even through years with hardly a bone thrown to the fans of old. This sense of trusting the player to figure everything out, making the game world consistent, tough and fair, and keeping in all things a healthy feeling of fun. It’s a game, after all. In the end it should come as no surprise that the first Zelda and the latest Zelda are in many ways the best; both are Nintendo in its purest form, game design that is instinctual, inimitable and perhaps timeless.

Breath of the Wild is, more than anything, natural. In a time of unprecedented artificiality, that’s about the highest compliment I can give. Play it.

Uber will apply for a self-driving test permit in California

Uber is now in the process of getting a permit from the California DMV to resume testing its self-driving vehicles on public state roads. Uber started testing its self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs in San Francisco last year – but the state DMV ultimately opposed the tests since Uber had not applied for its autonomous testing permit prior to beginning service.

While Uber took its test fleet of XC90s on the road to nearby Arizona, where Governor Doug Ducey and regulators welcomed them with open arms – the company said at the time that it was committed to California, and reiterated that position in a statement provided by a spokesperson to TechCrunch today:

These cars are legally registered and are being driven manually. We are taking steps to complete our application to apply for a DMV testing permit. As we said in December, Uber remains 100 percent committed to California.

As Uber notes, the self-driving vehicles made a return to SF streets recently – but they aren’t employed in picking up passengers. Instead, they’re being used to map the city for improvements to local maps for autonomous driving and other navigation purposes. Uber self-driving sedans have been spotted on streets in SF since the ban by local residents, but the company also now says two of its Volvos have had their registrations reinstated by the DMV, following their revocation last year.

Uber hasn’t yet applied for the permit, as implied in the statement, and first reported by The Mercury News. But the DMV tells the Mercury that it’s working with Uber on the application process, and the company does intend to go forward.

Despite that, its views on the legality of its tests and requirements regarding self-driving testing haven’t changed – Uber’s original reasoning for not applying for the permit was that it didn’t require this special permission under the letter of the law. Still, it now appears focused on the pragmatic task of redeploying its test vehicles regardless of its position on legality, something that makes a lot of sense given the wealth of other challenges the company is currently facing.

Snap is already more valuable than these 9 companies

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, had a stellar first day in its public debut on the New York Stock Exchange, popping 44 percent. The self-proclaimed camera company that began its roots as an ephemeral photo-sharing app first priced its IPO at $17 per share on Wednesday. The stock opened at $24 and closed the day at $24.51. The company’s market cap is being reported as $34 billion (fully diluted).

Many questions still remain for the future of Snap, like how it plans to grow its user base and ultimately become profitable. But investors are betting big on 26-year-old Evan Spiegel and the company’s promise of innovation. While it’s too early to know exactly what will happen to Snapchat, going public is a significant milestone. Here are nine public companies that Snap is more valuable than on its first day as a publicly traded company.

1. Twitter (Market cap $11.20 billion)

jack dorsey

A worst-case scenario for Snap would be to mimic Twitter’s highly anticipated 2013 IPO. The company was off to a soaring start, but struggled to grow its user base over the years.

2. Ferrari (Market cap $12.46 billion)

Ferrari F12

Snap is more valuable than Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari ($RACE), which went public in 2015 after separating from Fiat Chrysler.

3. Best Buy (Market cap $14.08 billion)

Curbside Best Buy

Consumer electronics and entertainment retailer Best Buy went public way back in 1985, but today is less valuable than the photo-sharing app that has only been around for six years.

4. Seagate (Market cap $14.44 billion)

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Seagate, best known for its hard drives, has seen revenue fall over the past few years. The data storage solution company went public on the NYSE in 2002, but has been eclipsed by other, sexier cloud storage providers.

5. Hershey (Market cap $16.57 billion)

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Snap is about twice as valuable as The Hershey Company, which went public in 1978. To put this into perspective, Hershey owns more than 80 brands, including Reese’s, Jolly Rancher, Kit Kat and Twizzlers.

6. Viacom (Market cap $16.73 billion)

 

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On its first day as a public company, Snap was more valuable than a media conglomerate that split from CBS in 2005. Viacom is one of the world’s largest broadcasting and cable companies, with brands including MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures.

7. Hilton (Market cap $19.18 billion)

hilton

Snap is more valuable than Hilton Worldwide, the hospitality company. Hilton owns a network of more than 4,000 hotels, resorts and timeshare properties.

8. United Continental (Market cap $23.06 billion)

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Snapchat is more valuable than the combination of two major airlines, United and Continental, which merged in 2010.

9. American Airlines (Market cap $23.05 billion)

Boeing American Airlines

American Airlines is a popular airline brand, but it has struggled financially in recent years, at one point even filing for bankruptcy. The company has been able to turn things around and has improved its position on the stock market.

The FBI’s new online FOIA portal is now live

It’s March, and beyond seasonal allergies and college basketball, that means the FBI’s controversial changes to its FOIA request system are now fully implemented.

For reporters and government transparency advocates, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is an essential tool. Enacted in 1966, the act requires the government to provide answers to specific requests for information, and as any FOIA requester knows, the more specific the better chance of getting what you’re after. As the Columbia Journalism Review observed in a FOIA retrospective, the information gleaned from FOIA requests can be the seed of much larger investigations — “everything from nuclear tests in Alaska to vice-president Spiro Agnew’s resignation, from the last moments of the space shuttle Challenger to the attacks on September 11.”

For the FBI, a popular target for FOIA requests, the new online portal replaces the standard email system. According to the bureau, the new online portal transitions the agency from a manual system to an automated system that will help it handle its large volume of requests, though detractors argue that the new web portal creates additional barriers to those seeking information from the FBI and makes tracking the paper trail more difficult.

Some significant changes have been implemented as the FBI’s Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts (eFOIA/eFOIPA) system exited the beta and went live at the beginning of March. The major changes from beta testing include dropping a requirement for the requester to provide a phone number, removing a cap on how many requests may be submitted per individual and shifting to a 24/7 availability schedule.

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To request information using the new eFOIA system, you’ll need to enter and confirm your email address, complete a recaptcha check and agree to a surprisingly bare bones terms of service:

Please read before continuing…

The eFOIPA system allows all types of Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (FOIPA) requests; to include requests on first parties (Privacy Act requests), deceased individuals, policies and procedures, events, organizations, and any other topic.

FOIA responses will be electronically transmitted. Privacy Act responses will not be electronically transmitted. These responses will be sent to you via standard mail.

A valid e-mail address will be required for authentication. The combined file size of all attachments may not exceed 30 megabytes.

The system will then send an automated verification email with a link for filing an eFOIA request. The new online portal requires the filer to provide their organization name, as still requires a mailing address, though as we noted before, phone number is now optional. An FAQ page with some additional basic guidance appears to clear up at least some of the questions that Oregon Senator Ron Wyden posed in an open letter to the FBI last month.

Afraid of change? If you feel more comfortable doing things the really old-fashioned way, you can just file your FBI FOIA request by fax or mail, though we wouldn’t exactly recommend it.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1, Xperia XA1 Ultra Smartphones Launched at MWC 2017

As expected, Sony has launched the Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1, and Xperia XA1 Ultra smartphones at MWC 2017 in Barcelona. The XZ Premium is a high-end variant of the Xperia XZ, while Xperia XZs is essentially a smaller variant. Similarly, the Xpera XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra are successors to the Xperia XA and Xperia XA Ultra smartphone launched last year.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Xperia XZs, Xperia XA1, Xperia XA1 Ultra Smartphones Launched at MWC 2017

Starting with the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the smartphone sports a 5.5-inch Triluminos HDR display with 4K (2160 x 3840) resolution. It is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor (Gigabit LTE speeds with X16 LTE modem) paired with Adreno 540 GPU and 4GB RAM. The new Xperia XZ Premium offers 64GB of inbuilt storage with the option to expand further via a microSD slot (up to 256GB).

The new Xperia XZ Premium camera on the back has a 19-megapixel sensor with Sony’s new Motion Eye camera system (based its new memory stacked 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor) that provides 5x faster image scanning and data transfer. This means you can create videos by recording in 960 frames per second, providing Super slow motion video playback that is apparently four times slower than other smartphones in the market. There’s also a 13-megapixel front camera with 1/3.06-inch Exmor RS sensor for selfies.

Sony XZ Premium packs a 3230mAh battery, runs on Android 7.0 Nougat, measures at 156x77x7.9mm, and weighs 195 grams. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS + GLONASS, NFC, and USB Type-C (USB 3.1) port.

The new Sony Xperia XZ Premium will be available globally sometime in late Spring in Luminous Chrome and Deepsea Black colours. Sony will also launch a range of accessories including the Quick Charger UCH12Wix which offers hours of battery time by plugging in for just a few minutes and Bluetooth Headset with Speaker SBH56 which enables hands free talking through the loud speaker whilst multi-tasking and has a remote camera shutter.

The Sony Xperia XZs is essentially a smaller variant of last year’s Xperia XZ smartphone with a 5.2-inch (1080×1920 pixels) Triluminos display. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with Adreno 510 GPU and 4GB RAM. The new Sony smartphone offers 32GB and 64GB of internal storage options with the option to expand further via microSD slot (up to 256GB).

Sony Xperia XZs battery is capacity is rated at 2900mAh, and the device measures 146x72x8.1 mm, and weighs 161 grams. All of the other Sony Xperia XZs specifications are identical to that of Xperia XZ Premium. The smartphone will be available in select markets from April onwards in Ice Blue, Warm Silver and Black colours.

Design wise, Sony Xperia XA1 and Xperia XA1 Ultra resemble the previously launched Xperia XA smartphone a lot. Starting with the larger Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra, it features a 6-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, and is powered by a 64-bit MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core (quad core 2.3GHz + quad core 1.6GHz) SoC with Mali T880 MP2 900MHz GPU and 4GB RAM. The smartphone offers 32GB and 64GB of internal storage, which is expandable further via a microSD card slot (up to 256GB).

The big highlight of Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra is the cameras at the back and front. At the rear, there is a 23-megapixel Exmor RS image sensor with hybrid autofocus, 24mm wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture, 5x zoom, and HDR mode. The Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra bears a 16-megapixel Exmor RS sensor at the front with front flash, 23mm wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture, OIS, and autofocus. The battery is a 2700mAh, and the smartphone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat. Connectivity options include LTE (4G), LTE Cat6/4, GSM GPRS/EDGE (2G), and UMTS HSPA+ (3G).

The smaller Sony Xperia XA1 smartphone features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display, packs a 3GB RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and offers a 2300mAh battery. The Sony Xperia XA1 front camera is at 8-megapixel with no front flash or OIS. All the other specification details remain the same as the XXperia A1 Ultra smartphone. Both the smartphones will be made available in Spring in White, Black, Pink, and Gold colours. Sony will also launch matching Style Cover Stands alongside in White and Black colours, along with a range of complementary accessories. Price of all the smartphones will vary depending upon the regions.

Paytm Mall App Launched for Standalone E-commerce Services

Paytm has launched Paytm mall, a standalone e-commerce app. For years, Paytm has run its mobile wallet and e-commerce divisions together, and you use the same app to access both sides of the business. However, the company has been planning to separate the two as the wallet becomes a part of its payments bank, and the launch of Paytm Mall shows that this is now happening. Interestingly, Paytm Mall also evokes the name T-Mall, one of China’s biggest e-commerce players, and a part of the Alibaba Group, which is an investor in Paytm.

Paytm Mall App Launched for Standalone E-commerce Services

Earlier this month, there were reports that Paytm was raising $200 million from Alibaba, for its e-commerce business. Alibaba is also an investor in Snapdeal, and in 2016, was contemplating entering the country as a standalone entity in India. This investment in Paytm would show that it has chosen a way forward in India, at a time when Snapdeal is in trouble, clearly strapped for cash.

The Paytm Mall app was launched on Monday, and has all the expected categories, such as electronics, fashion, furnishings, and so on. As usual for Paytm’s marketplace, there are plenty of cashback offers, which will fill up your Paytm wallet in lieu of a discount. In that sense, the new app seems to simplify the Paytm experience, with shopping and wallet not having to compete for attention, while the features and experience remain otherwise the same.

The main Paytm app was also updated recently – on Friday, according to a blog post. The update promises faster responses and better experience, and has added new uses such as paying loan instalments, and simplifying utility bill payments. There’s also a sample electricity bill feature that’s been added, which lets you see sample bills for different service providers that highlight the different fields, so you can more easily find the relevant information on your own bill.

The Paytm Mall app itself looks and functions a lot like the main Paytm app – tap the mall button on the latter’s navigation pane, and the experience seems largely identical. Does this indicate that the mall is going to go away entirely from the main Paytm app? On Monday, Paytm announced that it has crossed 200 million wallets, so it might feel that it is beneficial to let transactions take the focus on the new app.

Moto G5 Plus India Launch Set for March 15

Lenovo has started sending media invites for an event in India on March 15, where the company is set to unveil the Moto G5 Plus. The invite shared by the company confirms that the Moto G5 Plus will be unveiled at the event though there is no mention whether the Moto G5 will be also announced at the same event.

Moto G5 Plus India Launch Set for March 15

To recall, the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus were unveiled at the company’s Sunday launch event in Barcelona at the side-lines of MWC 2017 trade show. The new Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus have received a much needed design refresh, with a metal chassis and a circular camera frame at the back. Specifications also see a bump in many departments, while the price stays in the affordable range.

For pricing, the Moto G5 starts at EUR 199 (roughly Rs. 14,000) for the 2GB RAM/ 16GB storage variant while the Moto G5 Plus has been priced at $229 (roughly Rs. 15,300) for the 2GB of RAM with 32GB storage model, and EUR 279 (roughly Rs. 19,700) for the 3GB of RAM with 32GB storage variant. The price of the 4GB of RAM with 64GB storage variant of the Moto G5 Plus has not been announced as of now.

Both the smartphones feature fingerprint scanners at the front underneath the Home Button. The highlight of the devices however are they integrate Google Assistant, a feature first exclusive only to the Pixel devices.

Both the smartphones come with Motorola exclusive features such as Moto Display, Actions, twist gesture, and a One Button Nav mode that lets users navigate the interface with swipes on the fingerprint scanner, which would be useful as a one-handed mode on the larger G5 Plus. Also, the duo runs on Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

For specifications, the Moto G5 features a 5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display; powered by a 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 processor; 2GB or 3GB of RAM; 16GB or 32GB of inbuilt storage; option to expand further via a microSD card slot (up to 128GB); 2800mAh removable battery with support for fast charging. As for optics, the Moto G5 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF, f/2.0 aperture, and dual-LED flash, and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front camera for selfies. Coming to the Moto G5 Plus, it features a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display; powered by the 2GHz Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor; 2GB, 3GB, and 4GB RAM models depending on the region; either 32GB or 64GB of inbuilt storage; with the option to expand further via a microSD card slot (up to 128GB). The Moto G5 Plus sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual autofocus, 4K video recording, f/1.7 aperture, and dual-LED flash. The Moto G5 Plus packs a 3000mAh non-removable battery with TurboPower charging that claims to give you six hours’ worth of battery life in just 15 minutes.