Handy’s Ebony Friday promo rewards contractors over customers

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Handy, the on-demand service for cleaners, handymen, and more, has now announced the Give > Get advertising for Black Friday.

This Friday, the afternoon after Thanksgiving, clients spend the same quantity as they’d frequently pay, but the business will put in a 50 percent bonus on Handy Professional’s paycheck.

The scheduling itself does not must be for Ebony Friday, but the scheduling has to be made on Ebony Friday the promotion to utilize.

Handy began as an on-demand cleaning solution and has since expanded to supply storage, handyman work, and artwork. The business at this time serves 28 areas and contains “thousands” of Handy experts regarding the platform.

This new crop of large-scale on-demand startups, which depend on both end-users and contracted 1099 workers to give you solution, begs a fascinating concern throughout the christmas. Throughout a time like Ebony Friday, typically geared toward luring customers with high discounts, Handy is as an alternative shifting focus to its contracted workers giving them bonus profits.

Considering Handy’s business isn’t suitable for being used on a vacation week-end, this Black Friday promotion is an interesting option to get end-users on platform for a time they typically wouldn’t be, while incentivizing the feet (contractors) associated with the platform.

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Lovely is finally shipping the Fitbit for sexy times

Do you and your partner often do sex? Do you want to know how much sex you’re doing? And do you want to know how good it is and how good it could be? What is sex? Does anyone know? Can Lovely help us find out?

Hopefully, because I’m confused.

Created by Jakub Konik and Tomasz Badyla Lovely is a thinger that goes on your other thinger and measures your position, speed, and attack angles. It isn’t a vibrator per se but more of a sensor that also doubles as a stimulating sex add-on. Once you’re done with the sex time you can look at your phone and get expert advice on how you did (Bad, Fair, Good, and Cool Ranch) and what sex positions to try later.

“Over two years ago after particularly intense night with my partner we started wondering how many calories we just burned. I replied that there must be an app for that and actually started looking for it, but found nothing. I did some more research, talked to sexologists, industrial designers and engineers, and realized that we could create a device that not only tells you how many calories you burn during sex, but actually understands your desires and helps you to pursue them,” said Konik.

The team hopes to create an ecosystem of sex tools for people who have and/or enjoy sex. We have yet to actually try this thing yet but rest assured a pedometer for your peder seems fairly interesting if you’re really into the quantified self. They’re selling pre-orders on for $99 and they even show pictures of how sex works on their website which could be helpful for folks who don’t know. As they say in G.I. Joe: “Knowing is half the battle.”

Another Spectacle-selling Snapbot pops up at Brentwood Country Mart in LA

Snapchat now has not one, but two Spectacle-selling Snapbots deployed at the same time. The second dropped Wednesday morning at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT) at a spot near Santa Monica at the Brentwood Country Mart in Los Angeles.

The Brentwood Country Mart is a shopping and for spot in L.A.’s Brentwood district, which actually hosts a petting zoo, too. This is the third time a Snapbot has dropped in the Los Angeles area, which makes sense given that Snap, Inc. is based there and it’s the perfect place to sell a gadget that’s trying to be more of a fashion statement and hype acquisition than an early adopter lure for nerds.

The new spot doesn’t appear to be a permanent one, like the location in NYC next to the Central Park Apple Store, which is set to run through New Year’s and restocks at least once daily. So, if you’re in the area and still want some Specs, head down early and expect a line.

Two of these out in the wild at once is a promising sign for people hoping these become available more widely. It’s a 100 percent increase over the previous number of total worldwide locations, after all.

The OnePlus 3T makes one of Android’s best bets even better

OnePlus has always been a people pleaser. It’s an impulse grown, in part, from the hardware startups close connection to a tight-knit fanbase. As other new entrants like Le Eco on the smartphone scene push to be the biggest and flashiest, the company has been producing excellent handsets from the very beginning, devices capable of taking on the top flagships at a fraction of the price.

But the 3T is a bit of conundrum. It’s certainly in keeping with OnePlus’s focus on quality, but for those who went all in with the company’s last flagship a few months back, the phone may feel like a small-scale betrayal, upping the specs and entirely replacing the phone half-a-year after its introduction.

For the rest of us, it’s hard to fault the company for continuing to push the limits of what a sub-$500 phone can do. And besides, it’s not like buyers got the short end of the stick, really. The OnePlus 3 is still a hell of a phone and a strong contender for 2016’s best bang for your smartphone buck. But now the title clearly belongs to another.

The new Plus, same as the old Plus

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Six months, it seems, isn’t long enough for a full-on facelift. And that’s just fine. The OnePlus 3 was a great looking phone – and so, too, is the 3T. Because, well, they look pretty much exactly the same. So if you’re still hanging onto the 3, don’t worry, your friends will be none the wiser. In fact, the company’s even managed to maintain the size and weight of its predecessor (6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches, 5.57 ounces) quite the feat in light of the fact that it’s also managed to pack some more battery life inside.

For the full rundown of the looks, take a peep at our much meatier review of the OnePlus 3. That handset ditched the iconic sandstone back, in favor of a more straightforward metal backing. That means the phone doesn’t stand out as much from the unwashed smartphone masses, but it makes for a solidly built handset, with a slightly convex curvature that fits nicely in the hand.

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And, as ever, the company has included some backs that help you relieve those simpler sandstone days – though, in doing so, you’ll be masking the one key aesthetic distinction between the two phones (though I do recommend it, as that back scratches fast) – the addition of a gun metal coloring replacing graphite. Both are silver, but the new one is darker. The soft gold, meanwhile, survives this update.

One of the more notable features on-board is the Alert Slider. It’s an extra button few talk about but OnePlus users have really taken to, that quickly toggles between mute and ringing. It sits just above the volume rocker and is big enough to trigger while the phone is in a pocket, if you’re in a pinch. It’s a nice additional button that works well in contrast to hardware manufacturers’ insistence on including as few as possible. And it’s a testament to the thoughtfulness of a company willing to fly in the face of some conventions.

As with its predecessor, the 3T is an extremely well-built handset, and one that belies its reasonable pricing.

Camera, action

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The display is the same as before, as well — a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080. That’s 401 ppi – same as what you’re going to find on the iPhone 7 Plus. At the time, we compared it to the Galaxy Note 5 – but let’s just go ahead and forget all of that happened. How about the Google Pixel XL? That one comes in at 1440 x 2560 pixels, which is around 534 ppi. Which is to say that, while it’s not the sharpest display out there, it’s clear and it’s bright, and it does a great job for its price point.

The rear-facing camera is the same 16-megapixel, though the phone does a bit more processing to improve low light shots. And indeed, I was able to grab some good ones in pretty dark conditions, though the shots just can’t compare to the ones I grabbed on the Pixel (but then, neither can the price).

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Interestingly, while the rear-facing camera has the same specs, OnePlus has given the line a selfie upgrade. Now both cameras sport the same megapixel count. I’m not much of a selfie man, but it does it grab clear front-facing shots. It doesn’t perform as well as its counterpart in low light, however. Either that or I was looking especially grainy today.

Under the hood

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Here’s where the upgrade really starts to shine. OnePlus has quickly cut in line to the front of the pack with the addition of a Snapdragon 821. It’s no wonder the company let Qualcomm tease the handset before launch. That’s a big win for a budget device, putting it in relatively rare air alongside the likes of the Pixel and Zenfone 3. The coup was likely a big part of what drove the company to go ahead and release a new handset outside of an annual upgrade schedule.

The RAM is the same – but 6GB is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and the combination of the two make for an extremely smooth user experience, while taking less of a hit to battery life – not that the handset needs that much help. The healthy 3000 mAh battery of the 3 gets a 13-percent capacity increase to 3400 – that’s just shy of the Pixel XL’s 3,450. But you should be able to get a couple of days of standard use out of the thing, assuming you’re not binge watching any video.

Dash Charging is back, filling an empty battery half way in half an hour, edging out the Pixel’s offering. Of course, we’ll see how much longer OnePlus’s own proprietary fast charging technology sticks around as Google cracks down on third-party solutions, moving forward. The biggest downside at the moment is the fact that it only works with OnePlus’s proprietary charging brick, so expect to carry that around.

Storage-wise, you’re still getting 64GB, though this time out you can double that by adding an extra $40 onto your bill, and while there’s a dual-SIM slot, you won’t be able to jam a microSD in for added storage, so choose wisely.

OnePlus, plus

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The question we usually pose at this bit is whether the handset is worth an upgrade over its predecessor. That’s just silly here, of course. Processor aside, the 3T could have just as easily been released alongside the original OnePlus 3 at a higher pricing tier. As it stands, however, the company apparently spotted the new Snapdragon and asked itself why the heck not?

The result is a solid upgrade to an already terrific phone. Of course, at $439, it’s $40 more than its predecessor, but that really seems like a small price to pay in light of all of the upgrades you’re getting here. That’s well below the Pixel XL’s $769. And it remains one of the best deals in town.

Starbucks starts selling Ember mugs, which keep your drink at a steady temp for hours

Last year, Ember Technologies, Inc. ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to build a mug that keeps hot drinks at the perfect sipping temperature. By now, it’s sold 4,000 of these devices.

And in something of a coup for the startup, Starbucks Corp. has begun selling Ember Temperature Control Mugs in its stores across most of the U.S. and online for $149.95.

Whether it’s coffee, cocoa or tea, hot drinks are usually prepared and served around 160° Fahrenheit, said Ember CEO Clay Alexander — and that’s how cafes and restaurants mostly serve them. Yet, people like to drink hot beverages closer to 130°.

Commonly available thermoses work with simple insulation, but they heat unevenly and don’t cool drinks when they are searing, resulting in plenty of burnt tongues. Ember works with semiconductors inside to bring a drink to the ideal temp and hold it there it for hours, Alexander said.

Ember temperature control mug on its charging base.

Ember temperature control mug on its charging base.

Out of the box, the Ember mug needs to be charged one time. It is then ready to use. There is an optional mobile app that works in conjunction with the mug. A dial on the bottom allows users to set their preferred temperature on the mug. There are no buttons or moving parts otherwise.

To get their products sold at Starbucks was no easy feat, Alexander said. The coffee giants have a rigorous product evaluation and testing process, encompassing safety, quality and coffee tasting tests, and audits of startups that want to work with Starbucks.

Alexander told TechCrunch that the deal only happened with the help of his board of directors and investors. Working with the design consultancy Ammunition didn’t hurt, either.

Ember has raised funding from celebrity investors, including Demi Lovato, Nick and Joe Jonas and the DJ Kascade, among others.

Additional temperature-control products are in development using Ember’s patented systems. The startup wants people to be able to warm or cool liquids of every kind, without requiring any ice or open flames. So stay tuned for temp-controlled baby bottles, serving dishes and more, Alexander said.

Featured Image: Ember Technologies Inc.

Zola wedding registry lands $25 million led by Lightspeed

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Zola, the smarter wedding present registry, has finalized term sheets for a $25 million Series C round of money, based on sources close to the matter. Sources state that Lightspeed led the round, which Zola’s pre-funding valuation is at $200 million.

Zola can be an on line wedding registry that lets couples choose items from a number of brands and even set up a money investment.

Guests should buy services and products for a partners’ Zola web page and now have them sent right to the couple, preventing the hassle of entering a shop that already features a registry and dealing with the mess of present wrapping, transportation, etc. Zola gels with existing brands but additionally lets users import products from other internet sites to enhance their registry.

Plus, the Zola few can select whenever their products or services arrive or convert their gifts into Zola store credit.

Zola ended up being started by Gilt founder Kevin Ryan in 2013, and contains raised a complete of $15.85 million from investors like Thrive Capital, Canvas Ventures, Female Founders Fund and BBG Ventures (excluding this latest round).

Both Zola and Lightspeed declined to comment on this story.

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Platio turns sidewalks into solar collectors

Platio is a new company from Hungary dedicated to putting solar panels just about everywhere. They’re starting with sidewalks.

Founded by a team of engineers and architects the system uses solid solar panels overlaid on plastic backing that ensures the panels won’t break when stepped on or rolled over and that each panel connects with the next securely. Imre Sziszák is a mechanical engineer who created the injection-molded bases while Miklós Ilyés and József Cseh worked to ensure that the panels look great and work properly.

They’ve raised $70,000 for the project so far and they’ve sold 150 square meters of solar tile for their pilot projects.

The product is recycled out of plastic waste and they click together like Lego. Electric wires inside the panels connect seamlessly as well, ensuring you can place them and forget them.

“The founders are childhood friends and environmentally friendly technology enthusiasts,” said Sziszák. “Two years ago, as all us happened to move to Budapest we started hang out again and realized as having expertise in very various fields we work together efficiently. We started this project two years ago, and founded our company a year ago.”

The project is still a bit pie-in-the-sky but I saw the actual product at the Smart City Expo and the team is already shipping product to pilot customers. It’s a fascinating effort to generate free energy and reduce waste at the same time and, as the team writes, it’s an “alternative to the depressing regular concrete paving elements.”

The Das Keyboard Prime 13 brings the gaming keyboard to the board room

I have, as you might imagine, deep and abiding opinions on keyboards. I’m not a gamer per se – I do enjoy the odd bout of Lemmings now and again – but I type a lot. So I always look for keyboards that are comfortable, clicky, and compact. The Das Keyboard Prime 13 is all of those.

Das Keyboard has focused for years on creating very clicky, very usable keyboards for gamers and hardcore computer users. Their blank 4C model is still one of my favorite keyboards and I’ve moved between Das and Logitech over the years, eventually landing on Das.

The latest model is sort of the Aeron chair of keyboards – all business but it’s fine to pop out the clutch now again and make it sing. It’s a backlit keyboard with Cherry MX switches for maximum click and a full numeric keypad. Instead of flashy rainbow LEDs, however, this model casts a dimmable white light from the translucent key caps. These switches are soft tactile which means there isn’t a “click” during downward travel but when the keycap actually hits the board. Keys spring up quickly after each press and the space bar sounds like a the smack of a well-worn IBM keyboard. If all of this is a little esoteric know this: you’ll feel the keys moving under your fingers and unlike modern chiclet keyboards each keypress is a noisy and satisfying adventure.

Das Keyboard is selling this as an alternative to the boring work keyboard. It doesn’t have many of the features gamers crave but it does have one onboard USB port and it is very slim and compact. I’ve been using my tester for a few weeks now and it’s gotten kind of cruddy from my disgusting hands but, as you see from these press photos, the entire keyboard is scrunched into an area with a minimal bezel. The only odd spot is the upper right corner where the lights and USB port are hiding. Otherwise it’s nearly a perfect rectangle.

The keyboard has full N-key rollover and lots of travel. It would make an excellent programming keyboard and, because there are no special macros or volume controls, it would look good on a minimalist desk. I don’t think this model is great for gaming – Das and others make excellent keyboards for that purpose – but this is more of a “unplug it and drag it to the data center” kind of keyboard or a nice clicky addition to your workstation. At $149 it’s a bit pricey – there are hundreds of Cherry MX-enabled keyboards on multiple boards – but I like the metal faceplate and the subtle backlighting. It’s also best to decide what kind of switches you are looking for. For example, these are a bit softer than, say, these IBM keyboard clones and you have to assess how much noise and “clickiness” you’re looking for. Once you’ve used a clicky keyboard, however, you probably won’t go back to a soft, mealy-mouthed clacker ever again. Just don’t let your cubicle-mates steal this thing and/or banish you for too much keyboard noise and you’ll be Das golden.

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Xbox One game streaming comes to Oculus Rift on December 12

Oculus Rift owners will be able to stream Xbox One games to their headsets starting December 12, giving them an immersive way to play. This makes a ton of sense, given the existing cooperation between the two companies, including the fact that every Oculus Rift sold ships with an Xbox One controller in the box. That means gamers with Rift, a Windows 10 PC to run it, and an Xbox One will need nothing more to dive right into playing their console collection in virtual reality.

If you haven’t yet tried one of the PC-based VR headsets, they generally offer some way to experience either Windows desktop software, videos (like Netflix) or other 2D, non-immersive media in a fully enclosed virtual reality digital environment. The Xbox One streaming version offers a simulation of big-screen gaming, set in one of three virtual environments called “Citadel,” “Retreat” and “Dome.” If all goes well, it should basically feel like you’re playing your Xbox One games on a huge, high-quality screen, with some options in terms of setting how ‘far away’ you’re sat from the virtual display.

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PlayStation VR owners can already do this for PS4 games using the virtual reality accessory for their home consoles. Oculus owners will need to have not only the headset and the console, but also a beefy gaming PC, but chances are a decent percentage of Rift owners are also Xbox One gamers, too.

Spinn’s futuristic coffee maker is now available for pre-order

At Disrupt NY in May we had the pleasure of seeing a very cool hardware startup make its debut on the Battlefield, looking to make waves in an industry very close to my heart (and mouth): coffee. Now Spinn’s high-tech coffee maker is available for pre-order, so if it piqued your interest earlier this year, now’s your chance to pick one up.

In case you don’t remember, Spinn’s machine is fully self-contained, grinding the beans to the correct fineness, then heats the water and uses a spinning cylinder to force it through the ground beans at the right pressure. It should make for great coffee, and the grounds are super easy to dispose of.

More details at the original post, or in their new video showing off the machine’s new look, with touch controls so you don’t have to rely on the app.

There are three trim levels should you decide to treat yourself: original, which does all the basics and comes with $50 in credit for ordering coffee, for $299; original plus, which adds a carafe and $50 more in credit, for $399; and original pro, which has a larger bean hopper and comes with a milk frother and $200 total in coffee credit, for $599. It should ship in mid-2017, so unfortunately not in time for the holidays.

As with most pre-order campaigns, of course, those prices will go up should you hesitate. Not too many of the initial run of 5,000 units are left to buy, but more batches may appear soon.