Kindle Comparisons


Individuals enjoy a few exercises to keep their brain from floating away. These exercises help them sit back and have a ton of fun while they don’t have anything critical to do. The diversions that individuals take up depend from individual to individual. A few individuals take up swimming as an alternative to kill time while other play some musical instrument. Whatever they do, they do it in light of the fact that it presents to them genuine feelings of serenity. Your pastime ought to be an easy fun approach to kill time. One of the diversions that numerous individuals enjoy is perusing books and other scholarly items. It is a standout amongst the most acclaimed past times and a few individuals have a loving for the same. These individuals build up a feeling of warmth in the material that they are perusing and they start regarding it as their closest companion. There is no mischief in accomplishing something like this as it brings you euphoria. In addition to the fact that it is enlivening, you can learn such a great amount through these scholarly soft cover books. Casual instruction through magazines, books and short stories is one of ideal approaches to find out about everything that you are encompassed by. After some time, there have been a few new types of advancements built up that let individuals read book in its computerized structure through Kindle books.

With the approach of little handheld small-scale PCs, individuals are presently living moving. The advanced mobile phones have gotten to be more astute and there are a few sorts of cell phones that have now come to the purchaser’s hands. This incorporates portable workstations, tablets, advanced cells and other palm measured gadgets that have enamored the psyches of the youthful and the old alike. One reason for their prosperity is that these contraptions are amazingly convenient and can be conveyed starting with one place then onto the next. They have great batteries and a screen size that is somewhat greater than a normal component telephone that you get in the business sector.

The screens on these gadgets make a perfect stage peruse advanced duplicates of your most loved novel. These are precisely like the soft cover books that you buy from a physical store. The main distinction is that these are currently digitally marked and sold to you through Amazon Kindle books store. This focal commercial center gives you a chance to purchase and download a wide range of magazines and publications that you can ever envision. One reason for the fame of such computerized variants is that they accommodate an exceptionally media rich substance. They have superior quality pictures and recordings that can be seen while you read. On the other hand, a standout amongst the most interesting components of these is the choice to pick in for book recordings. No more do you need to peruse through that most loved book of yours and strain your eyes.

Through Amazon, you are allowed to download a sound of the whole book. This implies you can now listen to your most loved Christian book recordings and not stress over straining your eye. Whatever be your preferred reason or the duplicate, these Kindle books are perfect for the whole gang and can be obtained online with ease.


How Raya’s $8/month dating app turned exclusivity into trust

The swipe is where the similarity ends. Raya is less like Tinder and more like a secret society. You need a member’s recommendations or a lot of friends inside to join, and you have to apply with an essay question. It costs a flat $7.99 for everyone, women and celebrities included. You show yourself off with a video slideshow set to music of your choice. And it’s for professional networking as well as dating, with parallel profiles for each.

Launched in March 2015, Raya has purposefully flown under the radar. No interviews. Little info about the founders. Not even a profile on Crunchbase’s startup index. In fact, in late 2016 it quietly acquired video messaging startup Chime, led by early Facebooker Jared Morgenstern, without anyone noticing. He’d become Raya’s first investor a year earlier. But Chime was fizzling out after raising $1.2 million. “I learned that not everyone who leaves Facebook, their next thing turns to gold” Morgenstern laughs. So he sold it to Raya for equity and brought four of his employees to build new experiences for the app.

Now the startup’s COO, Morgenstern has agreed to give TechCrunch the deepest look yet at Raya, where the pretty, popular, and powerful meet each other.

Temptation Via Trust

Raya COO Jared Morgenstern

“Raya is a utility for introducing you to people who can change your life. Soho House uses physical space, we’re trying to use software” says Morgenstern, referencing the global network of members-only venues.

We’re chatting in a coffee shop in San Francisco. It’s an odd place to discuss Raya, given the company has largely shunned Silicon Valley in favor of building a less nerdy community in LA, New York, London, and Paris. The exclusivity might feel discriminatory for some, even if you’re chosen based on your connections rather than your wealth or race. Though people already self-segregate based on where they go to socialize. You could argue Raya just does the same digitally

Morgenstern refuses to tell me how much Raya has raised, how it started, or anything about its the founding team beyond that they’re a “Humble, focused group that prefers not to be part of the story.” But he did reveal some of the core tenets that have reportedly attracted celebrities like DJs Diplo and Skrillex, actors Elijah Wood and Amy Schumer, and musicians Demi Lovato and John Mayer, plus scores of Instagram models and tattooed creative directors.

Raya’s iOS-only app isn’t a swiping game for fun and personal validation. Its interface and curated community are designed to get you from discovering someone to texting if you’re both interested to actually meeting in person as soon as possible. Like at a top-tier university or night club, there’s supposed to be an in-group sense of camaraderie that makes people more open to each other.

Then there are the rules.

“This is an intimate community with zero-tolerance for disrespect or mean-spirited behavior. Be nice to each other. Say hello like adults” says an interstitial screen that blocks use until you confirm you understand and agree every time you open the app. That means no sleazy pick-up lines or objectifying language. You’re also not allowed to screenshot, and you’ll be chastized with a numbered and filed warning if you do.

It all makes Raya feel consequential. You’re not swiping through infinite anybodies and sorting through reams of annoying messages. People act right because they don’t want to lose access. Raya recreates the feel of dating or networking in a small town, where your reputation follows you. And that sense of trust has opened a big opportunity where competitors like Tinder or LinkedIn can’t follow.

Self-Expression To First Impression

Until now, Raya showed you people in your city as well as around the world — which is a bit weird since it would be hard to ever run into each other. But to achieve its mission of getting you offline to meet people in-person, it’s now letting you see nearby people on a map when GPS says they’re at hotspots like bars, dancehalls, and cafes. The idea is that if you both swipe right, you could skip the texting and just walk up to each other.

“I’m not sure why Tinder and the other big meeting people apps aren’t doing this” says Morgenstern. But the answer seems obvious. It would be creepy on a big public dating app. Even other exclusive dating apps like The League that induct people due to their resume more than their personality might feel too unsavory for a map, since having gone to an Ivy League college doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk. Hell, it might make that more likely.

But this startup is betting that its vetted, interconnected, “cool” community will be excited to pick fellow Raya members out of the crowd to see if they have a spark or business synergy.

That brings Raya closer to the holy grail of networking apps where you can discover who you’re compatible with in the same room without risking the crash-and-burn failed come-ons. You can filter by age and gender when browsing social connections, or by “Entertainment & Culture”, “Art & Design”, and “Business & Tech” buckets for work. And through their bio and extended slideshows of photos set to their favorite song, you get a better understanding of someone than from just a few profile pics on other apps.

Users can always report people they’ve connected with if they act sketchy, though with the new map feature I was dismayed to learn they can’t yet report people they haven’t seen or rejected in the app. That could lower the consequences for finding someone you want to meet, learning a bit about them, but then approaching without prior consent. However, Morgenstern insists.”The real risk is the density challenge”.

Finding Your Tribe

Raya’s map doesn’t help much if there are no other members for 100 miles. The company doesn’t restrict the app to certain cities, or schools like Facebook originally did to beat the density problem. Instead it relies on the fact that if you’re in the middle of nowhere you probably don’t have friends on it to pull you in. Still, that makes it tough for Raya to break into new locales.

But the beauty of the business is that since all users pay $7.99 per month, it doesn’t need that many to earn plenty of money. And at less than the price of a cocktail, the subscription deters trolls without being unaffordable. Morgenstern says “The most common reason to stop your subscription: I found somebody.” That ‘success = churn’ equation drags on most dating apps. Since Raya has professional networking as well though, he says some people still continue the subscription even after they find their sweetheart.

“I’m happily in a relationship and I’m excited to use maps” Morgenstern declares. In that sense, Raya wants to expand those moments in life when you’re eager and open to meet people, like the first days of college. “At Raya we don’t think that’s something that should only happen when you’re single or when you’re twenty or when you move to a new city.”

The bottomless pits of Tinder and LinkedIn can make meeting people online feel haphazard to the point of exhaustion. We’re tribal creatures who haven’t evolved ways to deal with the decision paralysis and the anxiety caused by the paradox of choice. When there’s infinite people to choose from, we freeze up, or always wonder if the next one would have been better than the one we picked. Maybe we need Raya-like apps for all sorts of different subcultures beyond the hipsters that dominate its community, as I wrote in my 2015’s piece “Rise Of The Micro-Tinders”. But if Raya’s price and exclusivity lets people be both vulnerable and accountable, it could forge a more civil way to make a connection.

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Rainforest Connection enlists machine learning to listen for loggers and jaguars in the Amazon

The vastness that makes the Amazon rainforest so diverse and fertile also makes it extremely difficult to protect. Rainforest Connection is a project started back in 2014 that used solar-powered second-hand phones as listening stations that could alert authorities to sounds of illegal logging. And applying machine learning has supercharged the network’s capabilities.

The original idea is still in play: modern smartphones are powerful and versatile tools, and work well as wireless sound detectors. But as founder Topher White explained in an interview, the approach is limited to what you can get the phones to detect.

Originally, he said, the phones just listened for certain harmonics indicating, for example, a chainsaw. But bringing machine learning into the mix wrings much more out of the audio stream.

“Now we’re talking about detecting species, gunshots, voices, things that are more subtle,” he said. “And these models can improve over time. We can go back into years of recordings to figure out what patterns we can pull out of this. We’re turning this into a big data problem.”

White said he realized early on that the phones couldn’t do that kind of calculation, though — even if their efficiency-focused CPUs could do it, the effort would probably drain the battery. So he began working with Google’s TensorFlow platform to perform the training and integration of new data in the cloud.

Google also helped produce a nice little documentary about one situation where Guardians could help native populations deter loggers and poachers:

That’s in the Amazon, obviously, but Rainforest Connection has also set up stations in Cameroon and Sumatra, with others on the way.

Machine learning models are particularly good at finding patterns in noisy data that sound logical but defy easy identification through other means.

For instance, White said, “We should be able to detect animals that don’t make sounds. Jaguars might not always be vocalizing, but the animals around them are, birds and things.” The presence of a big cat then, might be easier to detect by listening for alarmed bird calls than for its near-silent movement through the forest.

The listening stations can be placed as far as 25 kilometers (about 15 miles) from the nearest cell tower. And because a device can detect chainsaws a kilometer away and some species half a kilometer away, it’s not like they need to be on every tree.

But, as you may know, the Amazon is rather a big forest. He wants more people to get involved, especially students. White partnered with Google to launch a pilot program where kids can build their own “Guardian,” as the augmented phone kits are called. When I talked with him it was moments before one such workshop in LA.

Topher White and students at one of the Guardian building workshops.

“We’ve already done three schools and I think a couple hundred students, plus three more in about half an hour,” he told me. “And all these devices will be deployed in the Amazon over the next three weeks. On Earth day they’ll be able to see them, and download the app to stream the sounds. It’s to show these kids that what they do can have an immediate effect.”

“An important part is making it inclusive, proving these things can be built by anyone in the world, and showing how anyone can access the data and do something cool with it. You don’t need to be a data scientist to do it,” he continued.

Getting more people involved is the key to the project, and to that end Rainforest Connection is working on a few new tricks. One is an app you’ll be able to download this summer “where people can put their phone on their windowsill and get alerts when there’s a species in the back yard.”

The other is a more public API; currently only partners like companies and researchers can access it. But with a little help, all the streams from the many online Guardians will be available for anyone to listen to, monitor and analyze. But that’s all contingent on having money.

“If we want to keep this program going, we need to find some funding,” White said. “We’re looking at grants and at corporate sponsorship — it’s a great way to get kids involved too, in both technology and ecology.”

Donations help, but partnerships with hardware makers and local businesses are more valuable. Want to join up? You can get at Rainforest Connection here.

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Facebook knows literally everything about you

Cambridge Analytica may have used Facebook’s data to influence your political opinions. But why does least-liked tech company Facebook have all this data about its users in the first place?

Let’s put aside Instagram, WhatsApp and other Facebook products for a minute. Facebook has built the world’s biggest social network. But that’s not what they sell. You’ve probably heard the internet saying “if a product is free, it means that you are the product.”

And it’s particularly true in that case because Facebook is the world’s second biggest advertising company in the world behind Google. During the last quarter of 2017, Facebook reported $12.97 billion in revenue, including $12.78 billion from ads.

That’s 98.5 percent of Facebook’s revenue coming from ads.

Ads aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But Facebook has reached ad saturation in the newsfeed. So the company has two options — creating new products and ad formats, or optimizing those sponsored posts.

Facebook has reached ad saturation in the newsfeed

This isn’t a zero-sum game — Facebook has been doing both at the same time. That’s why you’re seeing more ads on Instagram and Messenger. And that’s also why ads on Facebook seem more relevant than ever.

If Facebook can show you relevant ads and you end up clicking more often on those ads, then advertisers will pay Facebook more money.

So Facebook has been collecting as much personal data about you as possible — it’s all about showing you the best ad. The company knows your interests, what you buy, where you go and who you’re sleeping with.

You can’t hide from Facebook

Facebook’s terms and conditions are a giant lie. They are purposely misleading, too long and too broad. So you can’t just read the company’s terms of service and understand what it knows about you.

That’s why some people have been downloading their Facebook data. You can do it too, it’s quite easy. Just head over to your Facebook settings and click the tiny link that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”

In that archive file, you’ll find your photos, your posts, your events, etc. But if you keep digging, you’ll also find your private messages on Messenger (by default, nothing is encrypted).

And if you keep digging a bit more, chances are you’ll also find your entire address book and even metadata about your SMS messages and phone calls.

All of this is by design and you agreed to it. Facebook has unified terms of service and share user data across all its apps and services (except WhatsApp data in Europe for now). So if you follow a clothing brand on Instagram, you could see an ad from this brand on

Messaging apps are privacy traps

But Facebook has also been using this trick quite a lot with Messenger. You might not remember, but the on-boarding experience on Messenger is really aggressive.

On iOS, the app shows you a fake permission popup to access your address book that says “Ok” or “Learn More”. The company is using a fake popup because you can’t ask for permission twice.

There’s a blinking arrow below the OK button.

If you click on “Learn More”, you get a giant blue button that says “Turn On”. Everything about this screen is misleading and Messenger tries to manipulate your emotions.

“Messenger only works when you have people to talk to,” it says. Nobody wants to be lonely, that’s why Facebook implies that turning on this option will give you friends.

Even worse, it says “if you skip this step, you’ll need to add each contact one-by-one to message them.” This is simply a lie as you can automatically talk to your Facebook friends using Messenger without adding them one-by-one.

The next time you pay for a burrito with your credit card, Facebook will learn about this transaction and match this credit card number with the one you added in Messenger

If you tap on “Not Now”, Messenger will show you a fake notification every now and then to push you to enable contact syncing. If you tap on yes and disable it later, Facebook still keeps all your contacts on its servers.

On Android, you can let Messenger manage your SMS messages. Of course, you guessed it, Facebook uploads all your metadata. Facebook knows who you’re texting, when, how often.

Even if you disable it later, Facebook will keep this data for later reference.

But Facebook doesn’t stop there. The company knows a lot more about you than what you can find in your downloaded archive. The company asks you to share your location with your friends. The company tracks your web history on nearly every website on earth using embedded Javascript.

But my favorite thing is probably peer-to-peer payments. In some countries, you can pay back your friends using Messenger. It’s free! You just have to add your card to the app.

It turns out that Facebook also buys data about your offline purchases. The next time you pay for a burrito with your credit card, Facebook will learn about this transaction and match this credit card number with the one you added in Messenger.

In other words, Messenger is a great Trojan horse to learn everything about you.

And the next time an app asks you to share your address book, there’s a 99-percent chance that this app is going to mine your address book to get new users, spam your friends, improve ad targeting and sell email addresses to marketing companies.

I could say the same thing about all the other permission popups on your phone. Be careful when you install an app from the Play Store or open an app for the first time on iOS. It’s easier to enable something if a feature doesn’t work without it than to find out that Facebook knows everything about you.

GDPR to the rescue

There’s one last hope. And that hope is GDPR. I encourage you to read TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas excellent explanation of GDPR to understand what the European regulation is all about.

Many of the misleading things that are currently happening at Facebook will have to change. You can’t force people to opt in like in Messenger. Data collection should be minimized to essential features. And Facebook will have to explain why it needs all this data to its users.

If Facebook doesn’t comply, the company will have to pay up to 4 percent of its global annual turnover. But that doesn’t stop you from actively reclaiming your online privacy right now.

You can’t be invisible on the internet, but you have to be conscious about what’s happening behind your back. Every time a company asks you to tap OK, think about what’s behind this popup. You can’t say that nobody told you.

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Apple could be announcing a new cheap iPad

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple could be unveiling a new version of its entry-level iPad at its event next week. The company is holding a press event on March 27 in Chicago. And the only thing that we know is that the event is going to be focused on the education market.

Apple launched a cheap iPad in March 2017 without any press conference. This iPad looks like the iPad Air 2 with a 9.7-inch retina display and an A9 chip — the chip that first appeared in the iPhone 6S. More importantly, the entry-level iPad that is simply called “iPad” only costs $320 for the 32GB version.

And it sounds like Apple is ready to introduce an updated version of this iPad. Maybe you can expect a True Tone display and faster components for instance. Hardware is just one part as Bloomberg also says that there will be new iOS features for the classroom.

While the iPad seems to be a great device for the classroom, Google has convinced many schools with its Chromebooks. These laptops are cheap, secure and easy to maintain. You can currently buy Lenovo Chromebooks for $179 without taking into account educational discounts.

Even if Apple chooses to reduce its margins with its new entry-level iPad, this could be a smart bet. Tech companies rely more than ever on the ecosystem of services and devices that they created.

Chances are you’ll like Android phones and Google services if you’ve spent years using Google Docs and Gmail on a Chromebook. Students who use an iPad every day could then become loyal Apple customers in the future.

Rumor has it that Apple is also working on an updated MacBook Air with an affordable price. But Bloomberg thinks the new laptop won’t be ready in time for next week’s event.

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Tapas Media aims to turn digital comics into the next big entertainment franchise

Tapas Media has its own platform for digital comics — but like a lot of publishers, CEO Chang Kim has ambitions beyond the comics world.

Comixology is the big name in digital comics. The company, which was acquired by Amazon in 2014, is focused on selling print comics from major publishers in web- and mobile-friendly formats. (It’s also working with publishers like Marvel to create exclusively digital content.)

That’s a very different approach from Tapas, which Kim compared to YouTube — it allows individual creators to publish their work and (hopefully) reach an audience. And unlike the superhero-dominated world of American comics, the most popular titles on Tapas seem to be more romance and fantasy themed, and are usually drawn in a style that’s closer to Japanese manga.

Tapas was founded in 2013, and it now says the platform has more than 32,000 creators who have created more than 48,000 titles. And it’s reaching an audience of 2.1 million monthly visitors.

The comics themselves are monetized through micropayments. Usually, the first few chapters of a title are free, then you have to pay to keep going.

Chang said his team is also working with some of the most popular creators on the platform to develop new intellectual property, which could be translated into movies or TV or other media. Eventually, he said he’s hoping that Tapas could launch the next Harry Potter.

Dungeon Construction Co game

That level of success is a long way off, but Tapas is already exploring ways to adapt its IP. For example, it’s announcing a partnership with Red Kraken Apps to develop a mobile puzzle game based on its Dungeon Construction Co. comic.

In addition, the company has partnered with Hachette Book Group and Ten Speed Press on titles, and it’s signed distribution deals with Tencent and Kakao.

Tapas announced earlier this month that it has raised $5 million in additional Series A funding. (The company has raised $10.8 million total.) Now it’s revealing more details about the round, which comes from ID Ventures, SBI Investment Korea, Medici Investment and EN Investment. Sean Park of ID Ventures is joining the board of directors.

“ID Ventures invested in Tapas Media because we believe in the impact their platform has on the digital and mobile publishing industries,” Park said in a statement. “Their remarkable extension into licensed content and co-development will see their continued dominance, as ID Ventures’ investment looks to help Tapas Media capitalize on their platform’s adoption and innovation as well.”

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Instagram will show more recent posts due to algorithm backlash

Instagram isn’t quite bringing back the chronological feed, but it will show more new posts and stop suddenly bumping you to the top of the feed while you’re scrolling. “With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about” Instagram writes. It should be more coherent to browse the app now that you won’t lose your place because your feed randomly refreshes, and there shouldn’t be as many disparate time stamps to juggle. Instead, you’ll be able to manually push a “New Posts” button when you want to refresh the feed.

Instagram switched from a reverse chronological feed to a relevancy-sorted feed in June 2016, leading to lots of grumbling from hardcore users. While it made sure you wouldn’t miss the most popular posts from your close friends, showing days-old posts made Instagram feel stale.

And for certain types of professional content creators and merchants, cutting their less likeable posts out of the feed — like their calls to buy their products or follow their other social accounts — was detrimental to their business. Instagram and Facebook moved to hide these posts over time because they can feel spammy.

“Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed” the company writes. Instagram’s VP of product Kevin Weil’s tweet indicates Instagram really is listening to all the complaints about the algorithmic feed:

Interestingly, despite all the anger about Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook movement, we haven’t seen nearly as many calls to #DeleteInstagram. In fact, the #DeleteFacebook trend seems to overlook the corporate parent company that owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus. Instead it focuses on just Facebook’s app, indicating that the scandal blowback might not be as much of an existential crisis.

If anything, the shift to the algorithmic feed caused much more of an uproar than any political issue or privacy scandal. While Facebook has become a core utility by bringing your real world identity to the Internet, Instagram is the pleasurable escape from that real world. And people get a lot more angry when you mess with their behavior patterns than when you highlight some abstract threat like misused personal data.

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Huawei’s U.S. plans hit major setback as Best Buy said to stop sales

Huawei can’t catch a break in the States. Just at the company was set to announce a big carrier deal at CES, AT&T reportedly switch gears last minute. Now, a week before the company is set reveal its next big flagship at an event in Paris, Best Buy is reportedly planning to stop sales of the company’s products “over the next few weeks.”

That news comes courtesy of a report from Reuters, based on a “person with knowledge of the matter.” The Chinese smartphone maker was clearly banking on 2018 to be the year it finally expanded sales to the world’s third largest smartphone market. The AT&T deal was reportedly all but finalized ahead of the company’s big CES push.

The last minute nature of the news clearly left the company in a lurch, with consumer CEO Richard Yu going off-script to excoriate carriers and U.S. officials that have repeatedly raised concerns over the company’s perceived ties to the Chinese government.

Huawei offered a non-comment to TechCrunch in the wake of the report. “Huawei values the relationship it has with Best Buy and all our other retail partners,” the company writes in the statement. “As a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships.”

The statement goes on to offer the standard sort of defense of the company’s position.

Huawei currently sells its products through a range of leading consumer electronics retailers in the U.S.  We have a proven history of delivering products that meet the highest security, privacy and engineering standards in the industry and are certified by the Federal Communications Commission for sale in the U.S.  Our smartphones are widely acclaimed – both among critics and consumers – for their innovation in areas like battery life, processing power, build quality, and camera capabilities. Our products are sold by 46 of the top 50 global operators, and we have won the trust and confidence of individuals and organizations in 170 countries around the world.  We are committed to earning that same trust with U.S. consumers and making our products accessible in as many ways as possible.

A Best Buy spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons.” Noncommittal, sure, but it does appear to acknowledge a shift in the company’s relationship with the smartphone maker.

Until now, Best Buy has been a saving grace in the company’s U.S. plans. While it’s true that most smartphone purchases occur through carriers in the States, the chain is still the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., marking another major setback for the company’s plans.

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Cloudflare introduces free network monitoring tool for mobile app developers

When Cloudflare acquired Neumob, a mobile performance startup last fall, it was a sign that the company wanted to move beyond web performance into helping mobile app developers understand what’s happening at the network level. Today, the company introduced Cloudflare Mobile SDK, a free tool which could help developers understand network-level performance problems.

Cloudflare’s co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince says developers have had tools at their disposal to understand why apps crash on the device itself, but they have lacked visibility into the network, which can be a major contributor to app instability.

Developers access the monitoring capability by adding a couple of lines of code to their iOS or Android apps. After that, they can log into a web console to see network performance metrics. The tool is designed to surface problems like dropping packets because of a poor signal or moving from WiFi to a mobile a network, each of which can cause an app to hang or otherwise misbehave.

Screenshot: Cloudflare

The tool gives you the ability to see how the network is performing in various parts of the world and where you are seeing issues and as it gathers and display information, it should help correlate performance issues with a flaky network and the impact that could be having on app performance.

Over time, he says they will be partnering with other monitoring tools to give developers a single place to check their performance issues. “Our goal is how can we get networks to perform better and give app developers better insight about network behavior.” Prince said.

Prince says, for starters they are providing some basic suggestions on how to improve performance, but in the future, they plan to integrate the network monitoring tool more deeply with the rest of the Cloudflare toolkit to make it easier to tweak performance problems.

Cloudflare also sees this as a way to build a better understanding of how networks are performing in general, and as they pull this data together, they plan to publish a mobile network reliability report. “We expect as this gets built into [more apps], and gives us visibility into mobile network providers, we will able to see who is providing the highest level of service and who has spotty or bad data services,” he explained.

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Get the latest TC stories read to you over the phone with BrailleVoice

For the visually impaired, there are lots of accessibility options if you want to browse the web — screen readers, podcast versions of articles and so on. But it can still be a pain to keep up with your favorite publications the way sighted app users do. BrailleVoice is a project that puts the news in a touch-tone phone interface, reading you the latest news from your favorite publications (like this one) easily from anywhere you get a signal.

It’s from SpaceNext, AKA Shan, who has a variety of useful little apps he’s developed over the years on his page — John wrote up one back in 2011. Several of them have an accessibility aspect to them, something that always piques my interest.

“Visually challenged users will find it difficult to navigate using apps,” he wrote in an email. “I thought with text to speech readily available… they would be able to make a call to a toll free number to listen to latest news from any site.”

All you do is dial 1-888-666-4013, then listen to the options on the menu. TechCrunch is the first outlet listed, so hit 1# and it’ll read out the headlines. Select one (of mine) and it’ll jump right in. That’s it! There are a couple of dozen sites listed right now, from LifeHacker (hit 15#) to the Times of India (hit 26#). You can also suggest new sites to add, presumably as long as they have some kind of RSS feed. (This should be a reminder why you should keep your website or news service accessible in some like manner.)

“More importantly,” he continued, “this works even without internet even in the remotest of places. You can listen to your favorite news site without having to spend a dime or worry about internet.”

Assuming you can get a voice signal and you’ve got minutes, anyway. I quite like the idea of someone walking into the nearest town, pulling out their old Nokia, dialing this up and keeping up to date with the most news-addicted of us.

The text to speech engine is pretty rudimentary, but it’s better than what we all had a few years back, and it’ll only get better as improved engines like Google’s and Apple’s trickle down for general purpose use. I’m going to ask them about that, actually.

It’s quite a basic service, but what more does it need to have, really? Shan is planning to integrate voice controls into the likes of Google Home and Alexa, so there’s that. But as is it may be enough to provide plenty of utility to the vision-impaired. Check out TextOnly too. I could use that for desktop.

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Our 8 favorite startups from Y Combinator W’18 Demo Day 2

Microbiome pills, gambling for one-on-one video games, and potential cancer cures were the highlights from legendary startup accelerator Y Combinator’s Winter 2018 Demo Day 2. You can read about all 64 startups that launched on Day 1 in verticals like biotech and robotics, our picks for the top 7 companies from Day 1, and our full coverage of another 64 startups from Day 2. TechCrunch’s writers huddled and took feedback from investors to create this list, so click (web) or scroll (mobile) to see our 8 picks for the top startups from Day 2.

Additional reporting by Greg Kumparak, Lucas Matney, and Katie Roof

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