Wells Fargo will let you use Apple Pay and Android Pay to withdraw money

Wells Fargo just announced that you’ll be able to use your phone or smartwatch to withdraw money from 13,000 ATMs in the U.S. As spotted by MacRumors, the bank says that it will support Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. Five thousand ATMs should already support those NFC payment systems, others will follow suit.

TechCrunch first reported that Bank of America and Wells Fargo were both looking at Apple Pay for their ATM networks. Bank of America already started rolling out cardless ATMs last summer with support for Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Microsoft Wallet.

Wells Fargo is adopting the same strategy without Microsoft Wallet, but I don’t think anyone cares. It is going to be convenient for customers who use a credit card for card transactions, who won’t have to carry around their debit card anymore.

After putting your phone on the NFC sticker and confirming with your fingerprint, you’ll still have to type your PIN number before you can withdraw money.

 And if you have an old phone, you can also withdraw money without your debit card using the Wells Fargo app. After signing in, you can get a temporary 8-digit code to replace your plastic card.

Startup megacampus Station F is going to open at the end of June

I’ve been covering Station F for quite a few months already, but the startup campus based in Paris has yet to open. The team had to delay the launch after a pipe burst that inundated the basement. The opening date has now moved from April to the end of June, with startups moving in during the first week of July.

The building is already looking quite nice as I was there last week. While I’m sure there’s a ton of work remaining to replace the electrical infrastructure and set up the server rooms in the basement, those extra few weeks mean that the building should be super ready for the opening date at the end of June.

Station F is going to be the world’s biggest startup campus. Backed by Xavier Niel and directed by Roxanne Varza, they say that 1,000 startups are going to work in this huge building.

 Some startups are going to participate in the Founders Program and pay around €195 per desk per month. But the vast majority are going to move there thanks to a partner. Facebook, Vente-Privée, Zendesk and a dozen other tech companies are going to rent a tiny chunk of the building and give it back to young startups.

There will be a few VC firms, lawyers, accountants, a post office and restaurants. The idea is that Station F is putting everything you need in the same space so you don’t ever have to leave the building. This way, you can focus on your startup.

Erato’s Muse 5 wireless in-ear headphones give AirPods a run for their money

Apple’s AirPods are probably the first really mainstream completely wireless headphones, but Erato has been making these for a while now. The company’s latest is the Muse 5, a set of in-ear buds that are cheaper than their debut Apollo 7 option, but still come with a charging case and very respectable battery life.

The Muse 5’s least impressive feature might be their design – it’s a bit like you’re putting bulky buds you found at the local gas station in your ears, with the plastic construction and contrasting color plastic ring on each unit. But they are completely wireless, and effectively so, which is not something you’ll get at the gas station, obviously. Plus, their design is ergonomic – the two-part ear canal soft silicon tips ensure a snug fit, at least in my experience, without requiring tricks like memory foam to ensure a seal.

The overall look and feel of the Muse 5 contrasts considerably with Erato’s Apollo 7, the wireless buds it released last year. But the Muse 5 gets a bit more battery life than its predecessor, with four hours of music playback per full charge instead of just three, and the case packs enough backup charge to get you up to 12 hours of playback without having to connect to a plug-in power source.

Muse 5 is also more unobtrusive than the Apollo 7, which stick some distance out of your ears. They’re also more subtle than Apple’s own AirPods, provided you get the black version, and they’re more likely to sit comfortably and securely in your ears if you happen to have ear shapes that don’t work with Apple’s native wireless buds.

 Sound quality is good on the Muse 5, better than you might expect given the build quality and materials used. They sound as good as wired earbuds in this price range, and have better sound isolation than Apple’s AirPods, and potentially better sound depending on how you like your tunes. The built-in microphone also works well, despite not having any special beam forming magic, although you wont’ want to use it for more than issuing Siri commands and making quick calls.

After trying a number of different sets of completely wireless buds, the Muse 5 strike a good balance in terms of price tag, features, sound quality and design (though they’re lacking the most in this last area). I did experience very occasional dropouts, but that’s par for the course with even teh best among these devices. For $180, the Muse 5 is a good alternative to the AirPods that stand a much better chance of working with your ears, and with sound that won’t leave you wishing you’d waited for something better.

Tesla Model 3 is ‘just a smaller, more affordable’ Model S, says Elon Musk

The Tesla Model 3 is not a product iteration along the lines of successive iPhones, Elon Musk clarified on Twitter on Friday. Instead, it’s a “smaller model affordable version of Model S” with less range, less power and fewer features, according to the Tesla CEO. The Model S is still going to be the leader in terms of it technological capabilities — so think more iPhone SE than iPhone 7 versus iPhone 6s.

Musk’s tweets were sparked by observation that many watching for the release of the Model 3, which is set for later this year, would be a kind of next-generation Tesla vehicle. Per the CEO, it’s more like Tesla will be leveraging its existing and past technical achievements, adding in the benefits of having nailed down their production processes to build them affordably at scale.

This is where the frequent Tesla comparisons to Apple start to break down a bit, and we’re reminded that, at heart, it’s a car company. Automakers typically debut new tech in their high-end line, and then bring this to their more mass-market models over time — often spanning many years or even decades — as costs associated with manufacturing decline and make it possible to achieve decent margins with lower retail prices.

 Musk also reiterated the reasoning behind the car’s name — the intent was to call it the Model E, but Ford blocked this because of its trademark on that name. The crude humor behind the idea was to have the names of Tesla’s first three models spell out “S–E-X.” Awkward dad joke CEO at the height of his craft.

Another European e2e encrypted Gmail alternative reports rising signups

Tutanota, an end-to-end encrypted email service located in Germany, says it’s seeing an “exponential” uptick in sign-ups — crediting this to growing awareness of and concern for privacy online for a variety of (often political) reasons.

The freemium, open source encrypted email service exited beta back in March 2015 — with a mission to broaden access to end-to-end encryption vs extant options like PGP that can be too complex for mainstream users to adopt. Tutanota uses RSA and AES encryption, and monetizes via premium tiers — offering paid extras for those who want things like additional storage.

Blogging about a growth trend it says started in the second half of 2016 — but claims has “really taken off recently” — co-founder Matthias Pfau cites data from Alexa Page Rank showing the email service gained around 32,000 page ranks over the past two month, at the same time as other privacy conscious tools, such as the DuckDuckGo private search engine, also saw their rankings rise. So he’s calling 2017 “the start of the privacy-era”.

He’s not attributing Tutanota’s user growth to any single event, such as the election of President Trump in the US, but argues it’s down to a combination of political events and issues which are driving more people to seek privacy-protecting alternatives to safeguard their communications from being parsed by third parties.

“[As well as the election of Trump] also the radicalization of politics in Turkey — and other countries (France, Austria, Netherlands, Brexit & UK surveillance laws) play into it,” he suggests, when asked to what he attributes rising sign-up rates. “As Tutanota is also available in French and Turkish, it is very easy for people there to protect their private communication.”

He tells TechCrunch the email service now has more than 2 million users — which is up from a million a year ago, and around 1.5M at the start of this year. It’s adding more than 200,000 new users per month, he says.

“Growth is highest in the US and in Europe (UK, France, Austria, Germany) and in Turkey. In general Tutanota is growing in all regions,” he adds. “We are excited about this growth because it means people understand the importance of privacy and why it is necessary to protect their private communication.

“We hope this is just the beginning and that the future internet will be much more secure for all of us. That’s also why we plan to add an encrypted address book to Tutanota in the future. Then it will be possible to save one’s contacts encrypted, rather than uploading the entire address book to Google or Apple.”

Last November, another European-based end-to-end encrypted email service — Switzerland-located ProtonMail — also reported seeing an influx of new users. It credited a doubling in the rate of sign ups at the time to the election of US President Donald Trump.

Commenting now, ProtonMail co-founder Andy Yen also suggests a variety of events are contributing to drive interest in pro-privacy services such as end-to-end encrypted email, telling TechCrunch ProtonMail’s current growth rate is “approximately 50% higher compared to the start of the year, and 3x compared to middle of 2016”.

 “We have several million users total now, approximately 1 million are monthly active,” he adds.

A Google Trends search comparing ‘protonmail’ and ‘tutanota’ shows interest in both search terms rising, with ProtonMail’s growth curve especially pronounced.

As we suggested last fall, factors such as Trump’s election presents an opportunity for Europe’s privacy startups — especially for those located in jurisdictions with more robust privacy laws (so definitely not in the UK, whose GCHQ intelligence agency has a history of data-sharing with its NSA counterpart in the US). Germany and Switzerland offer more of a legal firewall against the mass surveillance programs revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in 2013.

ProtonMail’s Yen also suggests the usability of strongly encrypted email tech is nearing a tipping point, arguing that privacy-protecting email alternatives are approaching feature parity with mainstream webmail services such as Gmail and Yahoo — which of course do not offer any privacy for users’ comms, given the companies monetize the ‘free’ services via user data and targeted advertising.

And even if a majority of email users are comfortable with Google or Yahoo being privy to their sensitive comms, it’s increasingly obvious that any data any companies have access to is also data that can find its way into the hands of A) hackers and B) government intelligence agencies.

“Politics and events like the US election, Vault7 leaks, Yahoo Mail compromise, etc do tend to create spikes of growth, but the sustained growth comes from approaching feature parity with legacy email providers like Gmail,” argues Yen.

“Effectively, with all else being held equal, given the option between privacy and no privacy, people will tend to pick the private option. Our work today is primarily focused on making sure that all else is in fact equal,” he adds.

CALA’s app fits designer clothing to your body using iPhone photos

A new startup called CALA aims to make it easier for new designers to break into the fashion business by offering everything needed to run their e-commerce operations – from production to delivery. In addition, CALA’s new mobile app where this apparel is sold is upending the traditional way garment sizes are created and fitted by way of 3D body scanning technology. The result is custom apparel that matches shoppers’ own body measurements with a high degree of accuracy.

CALA was founded last year by Andrew Wyatt, previously the Head of Operations at Shyp, and Shyp’s third engineer, Dylan Pyle. After advising a fashion company, Wyatt realized there was a need for operations technology in the space.

As he describes it, CALA is meant to be a way for designers to outsource all the “non sexy stuff” so they can focus on their sweet spot: their actual designs.

Targeted toward indie designers, as well as online influencers, artists or musicians who want to launch their own labels, CALA handles everything that happens after the sketching process, including hosting the consumer-facing online store on both web and mobile, helping customers find the right size, and getting the garments manufactured and delivered.

Online and in the CALA mobile app, which launched just this week in the Apple App Store, there are now three fashion lines – two from designers – Peter Vu and Anthony Cucculelli – and one of CALA’s own where it can experiment with its new ideas.

The garments themselves are all made in L.A., says Wyatt.

“Basically, we’re taking a page out of Zara’s book, where we’ve built a network of small, 15- to 30-person cut-and-sew shops in L.A. Zara does the same thing in Spain,” Wyatt explains. The advantage of this model is that it speeds up the time it takes for designers to begin selling, he says.

“We’re able to be really responsive. As a designer, you can give us that first sketch and fabric choice, and 40 days later, you can sell your first garment…Typically, in fashion, it would be around 12 to 16 months,” he adds.

The lines sold in the app can also remain small, as designers aren’t forced to add more pieces just to meet manufacturing minimums overseas – as factories in Asia would require. However, that also means that you won’t find an $8 tank top sold through CALA – instead it’s more like $1,500 jackets and $300 blouses.

That said, the type of styles offered through the CALA app can vary, based on which designers CALA is working with at the time. It could feature anything from streetwear to high-end couture.

Though offering an operations platform for e-commerce fashion brands would be enough of a business model to get a new startup off the ground, CALA takes things a step further through its use of 3D body scanning technology.

The company first created a database of 1,000 body 3D body scans at events hosted in L.A. New York and San Francisco, where they invited people to come meet the designers. The scans, which were created using sensor technology from 3D sensor company PrimeSense (yes, the one acquired by Apple), and are accurate down to millimeters.

Now, with the new CALA mobile app, shoppers are prompted to use their smartphone to snap photos of their own body which are then matched to the scans CALA has already stored.

Instead of holding the device at an angle or having a friend snap the shot, customers prop the device up next to a wall, then snap a through photos as directed by an in-app tutorial.

“This body matching gets us 95 percent of the way there,” says Wyatt. “The way we build our sizes is not based on the traditional ‘2, 4, 6, 8…’, it’s based on the population of people we already have on the platform.”

These “smart sizes,” as they’re called, can then be adapted further based on a person’s actual measurements.

For example, a customer could be mapped to what would be like a three-and-a-half, but then based on their arm length, the pattern could be adjusted for a more accurate fit.

Customized apparel like this should be expensive, but Wyatt notes they’re trying to mitigate costs by using digital cut files that are used by lasers for the cutting process, which reduces the cut time that would be otherwise be necessitated by human labor.

CALA generates revenue by charging a small amount upfront to cover development costs, then taking a percentage of the revenues of the items sold through its app.

The company sees the potential for its technology beyond the CALA app, however. Longer-term, it hopes to license out its tech to other vertically integrated e-commerce businesses, where supply chains are shorter than in traditional retail.

“You see StitchFix and a lot of these companies where they’re providing value through really understanding your taste,” Wyatt says.

“But we feel that the most intimate part of clothing has actually been your size – and that’s never really been a part of the equation…We want to help push that forward using machine learning and big data to make not only the styles you want, but the sizes that people actually wear,” he says.

The San Francisco-based startup is a team of three full-time and four part-time, in addition to its contract network in L.A. CALA is closing on a round of seed funding, to be announced in the months ahead.

Tips to select the right branch of engineering

So you have cleared the entrance examination for engineering and awaiting your admission in the   Top Engineering College in North India   or your own state.  While it is certainly a matter of joy and pride for you and your family, it is also the time to take the tough call that which discipline of engineering you should get yourself enrolled to. With so many different branches of engineering that are being taught in the engineering colleges all across the country, it could be really tricky to choose the best one.

Here are some tips that will help you decide which stream of engineering would be right for you and pave the paths for a rewarding career in the future.

Do not make the common mistake

While thinking of engineering branches, most students tend to choose the discipline that offers maximum scopes for jobs. It is definitely true that you would be studying for getting a good job, but that does not mean that you would need to compromise with your areas of interests. If computer programming is something that you do not love doing much, getting admitted in those IT engineering courses just for the sake of getting a lucrative job in the future would do more bad than good to your career. You would never be able to grasp the subject well as that would cause poor results in the semester end examinations. No IT company would hire a software engineer with poor grades.

Instead, if you choose an engineering branch which interests you, even though the branch may have less scope of jobs, you would still get one as you would have the chance to excel in the examinations. Remember, there is always a job open for the toppers.

Do proper research on the course materials

Just because you like fiddling around with electric connections at home will not guarantee that you would make a great electrical engineer. If you have a knack towards a subject, go through the course materials properly before choosing that engineering course. It is better to know what that particular discipline has in store for you in the coming four years than to get shocking surprises later on.

Get a fair idea about the work life

Are you one of those sensitive people who cannot stand the scorching rays of the sun? If that is so, civil engineering may not be your cup of tea. Now this is just an example.  The working environments for engineers of different specializations vary. While a software engineer would have the pressure of writing codes sitting in an air-conditioned cubicle, a civil engineer would be spending most of his time on field works. Hence, it is better to choose a branch of engineering once you know what working environment waits for you in the future.

Check opportunities for higher studies

If you want to pursue post graduation after getting your engineering degree from a Top University in UP for Engineering, you should choose a branch that will offer you ample opportunities for further studies. While automobile engineering will have limited scope for higher studies, mechanical engineering will let you do your masters in manufacturing, robotics or industrial engineering.

LeEco said to be trying to sell its Silicon Valley property amid cash woes

According to a new report from Reuters, LeEco is said to be seeking a buyer for the 49-acre swath in Silicon Valley set for the site of its future US headquarters. The Chinese electronics polymath highlighted its plans for EcoCity back in October, during its ambitious stateside debut, but a number of recent financial setbacks may have changed those plans.

The report cites anonymous sources claiming that the company is looking for a new buyer for the Santa Clara, California site it picked up from Yahoo in hopes of housing 12,000 US employees in a state of the art facility built to propel its aggressive push into the States that also includes the recent acquisition of budget TV maker Vizio and an English language film production company.

Since LeEco took the wraps off its US plans during an ostentatious event in San Francisco, troubling financial headlines have plagued the company. A mere month after the US debut, cofounder Jia Yueting told his staff that he would be cutting his salary to $0.15 annually as it reassessed a tremendous growth pace that found it moving from Netflix-style video streaming to major movie financing and plans to build an electric car in a short space of time.

The company has waved away the media’s interpretation that the letter marked financial struggles for a company that simply flew too close to the sun. Rather, as North American operations lead Brian Hui told a crowd at a TechCrunch event back in November, “If you read the letter, it’s not about whether it’s sustainable or not sustainable. It’s not about running out of money. It’s how you can spend your money wisely.”

 Earlier this month, the company was once again on the defensive, acknowledging that it would be slashing its staff in India, while denying reports that it was set to pull out of the country altogether, writing in a statement, “India is one the most strategic markets for LeEco and hence there is no exit plan.”

LeEco has responded similarly to the new Reuters report. The company has provided TechCrunch with a non-denial denial of sorts, stating, “We’ve always envisioned EcoCity would be an open environment that would be a place for our employees, our partners and the community to collaborate. LeEco has been working to identify additional investors as well as a development partner but we have nothing to announce at this time.”

The company managed to raise $600 million in funding back in November, even as it was said to be running into some major hurdles in its plan to take on Tesla. Taken as a whole, the company certainly seems to be taking a good long look at its strategy moving ahead in the wake of fallout from its extremely accelerated growth.

Weekly Roundup: Intel buys Mobileye for $15.3B, Uber’s navigation for drivers improves

This week four people were accused of hacking at least 500 million Yahoo accounts, Spotify partnered with Waze and Intel bought computer vision company Mobileye. These are the top stories of the week, and you can also get this post as a weekly newsletter in your inbox, if you prefer.

1. The U.S. Department of Justice accused of two Russian FSB officers and two criminal hackers of orchestrating the hack of at least 500 million Yahoo accounts. The DoJ alleges that they used unauthorized access to Yahoo’s systems to obtain unauthorized access to the contents of accounts at Yahoo, Google and other providers. One of the defendants is also accused of ecommerce fraud, as he used his access to Yahoo’s network for personal financial gain.

2. Intel is bolstering its expansion into self driving tech with the acquisition of Mobileye, a leading company in computer vision and autonomous driving tech. The deal is worth $15.3 billion, and happens to be the largest acquisition of an Israeli tech company to date.

3. The driver-facing side of the Uber app got some big changes to its navigation system. Uber previously relied on external routing apps like Google Maps and Waze, but now the service has been designed specifically for drivers, offering better routing and improved pick-ups and drop-offs.

4. Watch out, Slack. Microsoft opened its Teams collaboration and communication platform to all Office 365 users. The company also announced around 150 integrations with third-party services like Asana and Zendesk. But the question may be whether Microsoft is late to the enterprise comms game.

5. No more app-switching while driving. Spotify and Waze have partnered to let you play music and navigate in a more seamless way. Now, Waze users can listen to Spotify playlists from within the app, and Spotify users can continue to get their Waze navigation instructions while in the music app.

 6. Snap’s IPO may have paved the way for more 2017 public offerings to come. Yext, a New York-based company that powers location data in search results has revealed its IPO filing and will join the stock market as soon as April of this year. The offering is said to raise $100 million at this point.

7. Things are not looking good for GoPro. The camera company announced it will cut 270 more jobs. This is in addition to the 100 announced in January and 200 back in November.

8. Okta, a unicorn cloud identity management company, filed to go public. Okta reported on its S-1 that its revenue grew from $41.0 million in fiscal 2015 to $85.9 million in fiscal 2016. That’s a 109% increase.

9. WhatsApp jumped the gun when it replaced its text Status section with the new visual Snapchat-like Stories feature. Now, the chat app has revived Status – showing its quick adaptation to user feedback.

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