“Maximize Your Phone’s Potential: Utilize the Back with These Tips”

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The back of your phone is useless. Sure, the cameras are back that, but what about all of that blank real estate monopolizing 90% of the surface area? The Infinix E-Color Shift improves upon Yota’s phone somewhat, by adding color to the mix. Like e-ink, however, the back panel does have the advantage of holding a static image even when the battery isn’t putting in the work. It remains to be seen whether this gets licensed by a third party or simply shows up on an Infinix device.

“Latest Updates: Google Debuts Fresh Open LLMs, Rivian Enacts Employee Cutbacks, and Signal Introduces Usernames”

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Google releases new open LLMs, Rivian lays off staff and Signal rolls out usernamesWelcome, folks, to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter covering noteworthy happenings in the tech industry. This week, Google launched two new open large language models, Gemma 2B and Gemma 7B, in its continued bid for generative AI dominance. The company, which describes the LLMs as “inspired by Gemini,” its flagship family of GenAI models, made each available for commercial and research usage. Change Healthcare hit: Change Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare tech companies in the U.S., confirmed that a cyberattack on its systems occurred recently. YouTube triumphant: YouTube dominates TV streaming in the U.S., per Nielsen’s latest report.

Stellantis Executive Optimistic About Prospects of Waymo Partnership for Self-Driving Delivery Vans

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This “deepened” partnership will focus on commercial self-driving Ram delivery vans, a target that was first announced in 2020 and promptly faded from public view. Discussions on this “improved” deal have focused, in part, on a crux around driverless delivery: how does the package get from the vehicle to the customer? Waymo, which is owned by Google parent-company Alphabet, currently doesn’t operate a commercial delivery service using its self-driving vehicles. That deal did include a future plan to include delivery via Uber Eats, but as of today, it has not launched, according to a Waymo spokesperson. Under the deal, Fiat Chrysler — now known as Stellantis — would handle the manufacturing and provide Waymo with minivans that built in redundancies designed for autonomous driving.

Intuitive Machines’ Moon Lander Disaster Avoided through Sharp Reflexes and a Stroke of Good Fortune

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Using a small model of the lander, Altemus demonstrated how engineers believe the spacecraft, called Odysseus, made its descent given the most recent telemetry data. “The vehicle is stable near or at our intended landing site,” Altemus said. Part of the reason for that is because the onboard camera, an instrument called EagleCam, was powered down during landing. The company originally thought Odysseus was actually upright, but Altemus said that was based on “stale” telemetry data. Much of the mission’s success came down to very quick thinking by Intuitive Machines’ mission controllers — and just a stroke of very good luck.

Deadline for Ai Pin delayed to mid-April due to compassionate decision

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First-generation products from new startups are notoriously so, regardless of how much money and excitement you’ve managed to drum up. Given all that, it’s likely few are too surprised that Humane’s upcoming Ai Pin has been pushed back a bit, from March to “mid-April,” per a new video from the Bay Area startup’s Head of Media, Sam Sheffer. The Ai Pin was finally unveiled at an event in San Francisco back in early November, where we were able to spend a little controlled hands-on time with the wearable. Humane is positioning its product as the next step for a space that’s been stuck on the smartphone form factor for more than a decade. The Ai Pin is currently available for preorder at $699.

Navigating the rough path of electric vehicle makers

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Well, it seems the EV market is a tad more cutthroat than anticipated, with pricing pressure mounting like the suspense in a bad thriller movie. Most interesting startup stories this weekStaying in the world of automotive, there’s been a lot of movement from the avant-garde of EV manufacturers. These price adjustments from Ford and Lucid come hot on the heels of EV industry poster child Tesla’s price reductions, suggesting that the EV market is maturing and that customers are becoming more price conscious. Despite all their rage, they’re still just a rat in a Faraday cage: Struggling EV startup Faraday Future owes the landlord of its Los Angeles headquarters nearly $1 million after missing the last two months’ rent. This week’s big trend: The AI train keeps rumblin’ alongOpenAI has introduced a new generative AI model named Sora, capable of creating videos from text descriptions or still images.

Google Pay Expands QR Payment Offerings to Local Indian Merchants Following Successful Trial Period

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Google said Thursday it plans to roll out the SoundPod, its portable speaker designed to instantly validate and announce successful payments, to small merchants across India over the coming months. The Google Pay expansion in India, where the company is among the mobile payment market leaders, comes even as the firm winds down some of its payments apps in the U.S. The sound-box was invented to serve small Indian merchants unable to afford regular point-of-sale devices but accepting of UPI payments. The company said merchants who use SoundPod to process 400 payments in a month will get $1.5 in cashback. Reliance, India’s largest firm by market cap, also began testing a similar device at its campus last year, TechCrunch earlier reported.

“Empower Your Subscribers: Build a Network of Recommended Publications on Substack”

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Substack is updating its peer-to-peer recommendation system, the company announced today. With this new update, Substack is helping writers aid other writers in expanding their reach and potentially getting more subscribers and followers, as the company is now allowing writers to curate and share a list of publications for their readers to subscribe to. Most social media networks currently leverage algorithms for their recommendation systems, but Substack is instead focused on allowing writers to curate their own networks of recommendations. Substack says the new update will help writers build up goodwill with other writers by helping them reach more people, while also helping readers curate a worldview. The platform will show writers how many subscriptions and follows they have driven for people in their network.

“Formerly Owned by Nikola’s Founder, Electric Badger Pickup Truck Program Acquired by Associate of Disgraced CEO Trevor Milton”

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Beleaguered electric trucking company Nikola has sold the Badger electric pickup truck assets it was once supposed to build with General Motors. Embr now owns the intellectual property associated with the Badger pickup truck, as well as the assets related to Nikola’s abandoned off-road and personal water craft vehicles. News of the deal to sell the Badger program comes at an odd time. But it revealed the Badger pickup in February 2020, just a few months before it went public in a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Worthen said Nikola is clawing back 500,000 of those shares Milton gave Sparks as part of the deal.

Frost Giant Embraces Community Capital as VC Gaming Investments Dwindle

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Frost Giant, a venture-backed startup building a real-time strategy (RTS) game called Stormgate, is turning to its community to top up its coffers ahead of the game’s launch this year. The venture capital market for gaming companies has retreated sharply since Frost Giant last raised money (a $25 million Series A back in 2022). Thus far, Frost Giant has picked up $611,421 in reservations for its community fundraise on its Start Engine page. Reg CF offerings are limited to $5 million, so Frost Giant has a hard cap on how much it can raise. We got a similar peek into Substack’s financials when it raised capital from its community last year, and we’ll get a similar influx of data from Frost Giant.