Starlink app adds a 3D sky scanner so users can better check for obstructions between their dish and SpaceX’s internet satellites – take a look

Elon Musk looking at his iPhone
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • SpaceX updated its Starlink app with a 3D sky scanner for users to check for skyward obstructions.
  • The app generates a dome above the Starlink disk, flagging obstructions that could block connection.
  • Starlink beams the internet down to users’ terminals from a network of 1,650 satellites.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX on Tuesday added a 3D sky scanner to the app for its Starlink satellite internet.

It says the scanner makes it easier for users to check for skyward obstructions before installing their dish.

On the old app version, users checked for obstructions above the dish with their phone camera. In the new version, the app generates an image of a 3D dome above the Starlink dish, showing potential obstructions in different colours.

The parts of the 3D dome that are red warn users that obstructions could stop them connecting to Starlink’s network of 1,650 satellites. Blue indicates no obstructions. Based on the scanner, users can decide where best to place their Starlink dish.

Other updates to the Starlink app include a tool tracking how many times the internet service drops, and a dark mode that makes the app’s background black.

People who received their $499 Starlink kit must download the company’s app to set up the equipment and join the network. A monthly subscription to the satellite internet service costs $99, and the company is currently charging $100 for pre-orders.

Starlink, which beams internet down to Earth from its satellites in orbit, has topped 90,000 users. Its goal is to provide a worldwide internet network.

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Clubhouse no longer requires an invite, ditching the exclusive ‘club’ identity it was founded on

clubhouse app

Clubhouse is opening up membership to new users without needing an invite to join.

The audio-first social app hosts a variety of live, user-led conversations in virtual chat rooms. The app was originally only open to people who received an invitation from a Clubhouse member, an integral part of its early identity in the social media space as an exclusive freeform conversation space where users could log on to chat and listen to everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Mark Zuckerberg.

There are around 10 million new users on the waitlist, and they will gradually be added to the app overtime, The Verge reported on Wednesday.

The company’s exclusive, invite-only waitlist system was devised as a technical solution for the app’s early growth, with the app essentially in a beta-testing period for the past year, a Clubhouse spokesperson told Insider on Wednesday. But its goal has always been a wide release once the company could logistically support it, the spokesperson said.

“We got to a point from a technical proficiency standpoint, and also the community has scaled to such a level now, where basically we believe we can handle the influx of millions of people,” the spokesperson said.

The announcement comes after a drop in new downloads earlier this year and a subsequent launch on Android that boosted new user signups. In June, the audio chat app was downloaded around 7.8 million times across Android and iOS, according to data from research firm Sensor Tower shared with Insider – almost twice as many as the previous month.

The company also released a new text-based feature, Backchannel, last week.

Meanwhile, members who joined during the invite-only era of Clubhouse will get to keep the invitation badge on their profile (which indicates when you were invited and by whom) as an indicator of how long they have been using the app.

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Founders of Canadian relationship app Couply talk gaining traction after winning Collision 2021 pitch competition

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Couply founders Denesh Raymond (left) and Tim Johnson (right).

  • The Canadian relationship app Couply won the 2021 pitch competition hosted by Collision, a Toronto-based technology conference attended by thousands of industry giants.
  • Insider spoke to its founders, Tim Johnson and Denesh Raymond, to learn more about their vision for Couply and the events leading up to its inception.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Imagine this. You finally met that special someone-whether it be on a dating app or in real life-and everything is going great until you hit that post-honeymoon-phase slump. Naturally, you turn to the app store for some guidance, only to find that the selection of relationship apps is rather slim in comparison to dating apps.

That was the ideation process behind Canadian startup Couply, founded by Tim Johnson and Denesh Raymond. It’s a free relationship app designed to inspire couples to deepen their connection with fun features like personality quizzes, which then help aid the process of planning dates that are mutually enjoyable.

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An example of a date idea proposed by Couply.

Couply’s vision was so successful that it won Collision 2021’s startup competition, PITCH, this past April. The bootstrapped company was one of 50 up-and-coming startups to pitch in front of a panel of judges, consisting of venture capitalists from B Capital Group, Salesforce Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners, to name a few.

The two founders crossed paths when they both worked at Wattpad, an online storytelling platform for writers. Johnson stills works on the business development side of Wattpad and is a published author with a strong background in the nonprofit sector. Raymond was a software engineer at Wattpad, where he specialized in iOS and Android development and was a member of the Wattpad Monetization team.

When Johnson came to Raymond with the idea for the app, Raymond was working as a tech lead at a product development company, building apps for companies like Bose and Peloton.

At first, Raymond had his doubts.

“I’m sort of taking it with a grain of salt because, being in the tech space, I’ve worked with different apps like this before,” Raymond told Insider.

Once Raymond came home that day and did his research, he realized that there weren’t any big players to compete with, aside from the Bumbles and Tinders in the dating space. From that point on, the duo “just got into a room and started cracking at it,” Raymond said.

Since its launch in December of 2020, Couply has grown from a few downloads a day to 1,000 downloads a week, with its daily download rate doubling each month as a result of word of mouth, Johnson told Insider. He and Raymond hope to grow their user base from their current total of 10,000+ to an audience of one million in a year from now.

Despite being developed in Canada, the app sees its biggest opportunity in the U.S. market, and this is where Johnson and Raymond plan to focus their efforts. Couply is also available for download globally and will eventually be accessible in different languages.

The foundation of Couply is rooted in its creators’ belief in the power of technology when used for good. Through research-based quizzes that are linked across both partners’ accounts, couples can better understand each other’s similarities and differences, as well as their own way of looking at the world.

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Couply’s in-app personality quizzes.

This information guides Couply in providing personalized date ideas, gift suggestions, and relationship advice. In addition, the app’s integrated calendar allows users to set reminders for important relationship milestones and book thoughtful dates, which is Couply’s ultimate end goal for its users.

“This kind of drills into that core sentiment of Couply, which is to get out there and do things with your partner in the real world,” Johnson told Insider.

Even in the heat of the pandemic, Couply has fared well among its users with the help of the in-app feedback system. Through this feature, the creators are able to directly communicate with their audience and gauge the kinds of dates they’re interested in at a given time-not surprisingly, innovative ideas for a romantic night in have been highly requested.

The app also boasts a daily conversation starter tool, which is designed to help the flow of meaningful interaction beyond simple check-ins.

“You can use it as a fun thing at lunch or dinner,” Johnson said. “Or even just text it to your partner during the day to keep that journey going, so that you’re not only doing transactional conversations, you’re actually learning about each other and your internal maps of the world.”

Johnson added that he and Raymond were lucky to be able to tap into a diverse set of perspectives in Toronto’s tech community for feedback on their user experience and its accessibility for all members.

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Clubhouse is being sued for trademark infringement by a sports networking site. Experts are divided on whether the case will succeed.

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Clubhouse launched in 2020.

  • Clubhouse has been sued for trademark infringement by an Arizona company running “TheClubhouse.”
  • Alpha Exploration Co., which launched Clubhouse, hasn’t trademarked the name, experts said.
  • The complaint sought to bar Alpha Exploration Co. from using the name for its app.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A trademark lawsuit filed against audio-chat app Clubhouse raised questions about whether the company sought to protect its name via a US trademark.

“It is interesting that Clubhouse, a company valued at $4 billion, has no registered trademark and appears not to have even applied for registration in the US,” said Christine Haight Farley, a professor at American University Washington College of Law.

Alpha Exploration Co., which launched the invite-only Clubhouse app last spring, was issued a summons last week, according to court documents.

SBS Consulting Group said in its complaint that the Clubhouse app infringed on the trademark it received for “TheClubhouse,” a networking site for sports business professionals.

The complaint sought a trial and damages. It also sought to bar Alpha Exploration Co. from using the name for its app.

The complaint, filed in US district court in Arizona, said the overlap between the two services included both content and features.

The sports consulting firm’s website listed more than a hundred clients at the NBA, MLB, NHL, and other pro sports leagues. Its complaint included screenshots of the Clubhouse app, which had rooms titled “Pro Sports Network” and “Sports Biz Professionals.”

“Included in AEC’s ‘CLUBHOUSE’ topics of interests and clubs are a variety of networking, career growth, and sports business categories selections,” the complaint said.

The Chicago law firm representing SBS Consulting Group declined to comment on the complaint. Clubhouse didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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The social audio app Clubhouse on an iPhone.

Clubhouse downloads skyrocketed this year, hitting 9.6 million in February, before declining in the months since, according to Sensor Tower. Last week, it launched an Android version of its app.

It’s common for a quickly growing company like Clubhouse to attract lawsuits, some of which may be opportunistic or without merit, said Michael Atkins, a Seattle trademark lawyer, who teaches at the University of Washington School of Law.

SBS Consulting Group launched its “TheClubhouse” site in November 2018. It filed its registration for “THECLUBHOUSE” in May 2019 and the trademark was granted in December of that year. On its website, the name is styled as “theClubhouse.”

Because the Clubhouse app was the second to the market with its Clubhouse name, the case will center on whether there was the possibility for “reverse confusion.” That’s when a smaller company trademarks its name, which subsequently gets confused by consumers with a newer, bigger rival.

“By flooding the market with advertising and superior name recognition, it really deprives the first mover of the ability to exploit and grow their trademark, because everyone now is thinking that their trademark is the more well-known company’s trademark,” Atkins said via phone from Spain, where he’s waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic.

SBS Consulting Group's TheClubhouse Networking Site
The homepage for TheClubhouse, SBS Consulting Group’s networking site.

The complaint noted that Alpha Exploration Co. hadn’t submitted an application for its name. It added that the company’s executives would have found SBS Consulting Group’s trademark if they had searched the government’s trademark database.

In addition, the complaint said Alpha Exploration Co. seemed to have either “willfully blinded itself” or “acted willfully and intentionally” to infringe on the trademark.

Experts who spoke to Insider were undecided on whether the complaint from SBS Consulting Group had merit.

“On the one hand, these two companies seem like they have some plausible overlap in terms of their services,” said Mark P. McKenna, a professor at Notre Dame Law School.

He added: “On the other hand, ‘TheClubhouse’ seems like a pretty weak mark to me – there are a lot of companies using some version of ‘clubhouse’ for different kinds of things, so we’d need to think the conflict between these two was pretty significant for there to be a claim.”

Haight Farley, of American University, said the SBS Consulting Group’s trademark was the “most problematic” of several “clubhouse” trademarks, because their products had the most in common with the Clubhouse app.

“Essentially, each company provides a digital space for users to meet,” she said. “But beyond that the similarities end.”

Atkins compared the lawsuit with a landmark “reverse confusion” case from the 1990s, when A&H Sportswear Co. successfully sued bigger rival Victoria’s Secret. The smaller company made Miraclesuit swimwear. It argued that Victoria’s Secret had infringed on its trademark with products like The Miracle Bra.

“They might be hoping for a payday to make that problem go away for Clubhouse,” Atkins said. “Also, it could be legitimate in terms of that reverse confusion scenario.”

It’s not too late for Clubhouse to file for its own trademark, he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Canada’s second-biggest bank is giving staff a subscription to meditation app Headspace and an extra day off

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Bank of Canada, Dave McKay, addresses shareholders at the bank's 146th annual meeting, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
President and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, Dave McKay, addresses shareholders at the bank’s 146th annual meeting, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

  • Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay said the bank is giving an extra day off to “exhausted” staff.
  • Employees also get a free one-year subscription to the meditation app Headspace.
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s largest, has also offered its workers an additional day off.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Royal Bank of Canada is giving its employees an extra paid day off this year to avoid burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic – as well as a one-year subscription to the meditation and sleep app Headspace.

RBC’s CEO Dave McKay on Thursday said in a company memo that workers were the most exhausted they have been at any point in the pandemic. He said the bank needs to “eliminate the stigma associated with asking for time to focus, concentrate, and in some cases, log off and recharge.”

McKay told employees in the memo they should speak to their managers to book the extra day off and encouraged them to take the time to go on vacation. He said the few vacations he’d taken in the pandemic had allowed him to read, play his guitar, and spend more time outside.

Canada’s second-biggest bank also offered its global workforce of around 86,000 workers a free one-year subscription to Headspace, which usually costs $69.99.

“Beyond this extra day off, we recognize the ongoing pressures of the pandemic, especially for those in regions that have reverted back into lockdown,” McKay said. Canada is currently in a third wave of coronavirus infections which has mainly hit the province of Ontario, where RBC headquarters are. The province has introduced new restrictions to stop the spread.

“I encourage all of you to prioritize your personal time and continue to be mindful about work-life boundaries wherever possible,” McKay told staff in the memo.

Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s largest bank, has also told staff they would get an extra day off work. CEO Bharat Masrani said in a memo to staff, seen by Bloomberg, that they should take the day off when they need it the most.

“After a year of sacrifice and disruption, we must all endure these challenging circumstances for a bit longer,” Masrani said in the memo. “I know that this has not been easy, and everyone is tired.”

The bank’s decisions to give staff an additional day off come after Goldman Sachs was criticized for making junior bankers work 100-hour weeks in “inhumane” conditions, leading to poor mental health.

Citigroup also launched a “Citi Reset Day” on March 28 – a company-wide holiday to relieve stress on staff. CEO Jane Fraser also banned video calls on a Friday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook is testing Hotline, a Q&A app that’s a bit like Clubhouse, but with video. A real-estate investor hosted the app’s first live session.

mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Facebook is testing a potential competitor to the audio-only app Clubhouse. It’s called Hotline.
  • Hotline lets people chat to their audience through livestreamed video, instead of just audio.
  • Hotline hosted its first Q&A livestream on Wednesday with real-estate investor Nick Huber.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook is testing a new app called Hotline, which is similar to the invite-only audio platform Clubhouse, but allows people to use video as well as audio to chat to their audience.

The social media giant’s experimental app development branch, the NPE Team, launched Hotline in the US for beta testing on Wednesday, TechCrunch first reported. It’s not currently available in the UK.

Hotline can be accessed via its website – there’s no app version available for smartphones yet. The website requires users to sign in via their Twitter account, rather than their Facebook account, then leave their name on a waiting list.

In contrast to audio-only Clubhouse, Hotline users can use videos and livestreams with a Q&A feature to chat to their audience, a bit like live videos on Instagram, which Facebook owns. Hotline users watching a session can ask questions through text or audio.

Clubhouse, reportedly valued at $4 billion, holds conversation rooms, and users ask questions by tapping the “raise hand” button and speaking.

TechCrunch reported that sessions on Hotline were recorded, a feature not available on Clubhouse. Insider has reached out to Facebook for more information.

Read more: Congressional stock report: Phillips explains Cayman investment, McCaul likes Facebook, Hickenloopers go ‘vroom!’

The layout of the two apps is also different. Hotline separates listeners into those that are asking questions and those who are just watching the session. Clubhouse divides the listeners into those following the speakers and “others in the room.”

Hotline hosted its first Q&A livestream with real-estate investor Nick Huber on Wednesday, where he spoke about finance skills in the real estate industry, TechCrunch reported.

The app is being led by Erik Hazzard, who began working at Facebook after selling his app “tbh” to the social-media giant in 2017.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Clubhouse could finally arrive on Android and ditch invite-only joining by the summer, CEO Paul Davison said

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In this photo illustration the Clubhouse app logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen.

  • Invite-only audio app Clubhouse could launch on Android as soon as this summer.
  • CEO and co-founder Paul Davison said it would take the company “a couple of months” to join Android.
  • Clubhouse could also ditch its invite-only feature “in the coming months,” he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Clubhouse co-founder and CEO Paul Davison said on Monday that the app could launch on Android this summer.

In a town hall meeting, Davison said Clubhouse was working “really hard” to get onto Android, but that it would take “a couple of months,” TechCrunch first reported.

The app is currently only available on iOS, and users can only join if they receive an invite from someone with an account – but Davison also said that the invitation-only feature of the app may be dropped “in the coming months.”

Paul Davison

Davison has previously said that app would eventually be open for everyone to join.

On Monday, he said that “it’s going to be really important that we just open up to everyone,” adding that “Android’s going to be really important.”

Davison’s comments come one month after CNBC reported Clubhouse had hired an Android software developer, suggesting an Android app could be coming soon.

The company wrote in a January blog post that work on the Android app would begin “soon,” but didn’t say when the app would be available for users to download.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Robinhood’s IPO filing could reportedly come as early as March

Vlad Tenev Robinhood

Investment platform Robinhood is expected to file for an IPO as early as March, according to Bloomberg, citing sources close to the company. 

The outlet had reported in early February that Robinhood was planning for a traditional IPO around May. Since then, however, sources told Bloomberg the company has held talks with underwriters about possibly moving the filing up. No final decisions have been made, sources told the publication. 

Robinhood did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

The company had been eyeing an IPO as early as 2018 and initially targeted the year 2021. Last year, Robinhood was valued at nearly $12 billion, and in December, Reuters reported the platform hired Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO that could value the fintech startup at more than $20 billion. Bloomberg is now reporting the IPO could be valued at around $30 billion due to its latest fundraise. 

Robinhood raised $3.4 billion from backers to help post collateral with the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, Bloomberg reported. The app had become tight on cash after the Gamestop short-squeeze that rattled markets earlier this year. Aside from a traditional IPO, Bloomberg reports the company is also exploring a direct listing or a SPAC merger. It has also considered selling shares directly to its users, though such a move would be uncommon. 

Since the beginning of the year, Robinhood has been engulfed in scandal. In late January, many of its users –some convening on the Reddit forum r/WallStreetBets— started buying shares of companies such as Gamestop and AMC, squeezing hedge funds. Robinhood then temporarily restricted users from buying shares in those companies. The company said in a blog post it did this to help meet its deposit requirements, but that hasn’t stopped it from facing backlash and accusations of market manipulation.

It is also facing nearly 90 lawsuits over the matter and faced a hearing by the House Finance Services Committee.

Bloomberg reports an IPO could help Robinhood secure future financing to appease regulators by increasing its cash buffer. It could also help the company grow. The platform had over 13 million users by the end of last year, and became increasingly popular as young people used the app amid the pandemic – some to earn extra cash, some for leisure.

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What is Kik? Here’s what you need to know about the free messaging app

woman under the covers using smart phone messaging
Kik is a free messaging app that boasts increased privacy and anonymity as features.

  • Kik is a free messaging app that allows users to keep in touch with family and friends using Wi-Fi or your phone’s mobile data. 
  • Kik only requires an email address to sign up — there’s no need to provide a phone number. 
  • Kik is available on Android, iOS, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

While there is no shortage of free messaging apps available, Kik holds a particular appeal thanks to its increased privacy and anonymity in comparison to competitors such as WhatsApp and iMessage. Requiring only an email address to sign up, Kik boasts hundreds of millions of registered users across the globe. 

What you need to know about Kik

Kik doesn’t offer anything particularly unique in terms of how it operates on a basic level. You can message friends and family by manually adding their registered email address or scanning their custom QR code. 

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You can download Kik from your iPhone’s App Store.

However, Kik places an emphasis on the multimedia side, allowing users to send everything from gifs and emojis to sketches. You can even host live video chats as you would on apps like Skype. You can also take part in anonymous chats or promoted chats sponsored by popular entertainment brands. 

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There are various options to discover once you have a Kik account.

Kik is available on iOS, Android, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, making it compatible with a majority of devices. Once downloaded, you only need to provide an email to register your account and select a user ID. That ID is what identifies Kik users, which means your personal information is more secure and messaging can be done with partial or complete anonymity. 

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Signing up is simple.

Kik’s simplified registration process as well as its popularity with teens could make the platform more dangerous for younger people, who may find themselves talking to those they shouldn’t through Kik’s anonymous chat feature. Kik’s current age restriction is listed as 13, though the Apple App Store rates it as inappropriate for anyone younger than 17. Parents whose children are underage and have created an account on the platform can contact support@kik.com to submit an account deactivation request. 

If your child receives an inappropriate message on the platform, Kik suggests that you block and report the user before following up with local law enforcement. Kik published extensive guidelines on this topic and other safety issues involving minors, and it’s worth reading before you allow your child on the platform. 

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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How to get VLC on a Roku device by mirroring the media player in 2 different ways

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You can mirror VLC on a Roku in a few simple steps.

  • You can get VLC on Roku by mirroring the VLC player from an Android device or Windows computer.
  • VLC is a popular media player for many platforms, but it’s not available for direct download on Roku.
  • Here’s how to set up and mirror your Android or Windows device to a Roku player.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

VLC (VideoLAN Client) is a popular open-source media player for a variety of platforms including Windows and Android devices. Unfortunately, Roku is not one of VLC’s supported devices, so there is no direct way to install or use the VLC player on a Roku TV or media player. However, you can get VLC on a Roku by mirroring content from your Android phone or from your Windows computer. 

Before you begin, make sure that screen mirroring is enabled on your Roku device. To do that, follow the instructions in the first section of our article on mirroring to a Roku device, under “How to set up Roku for mirroring.”

Then make sure that VLC is installed on the device you plan to mirror – you can install VLC on your Android device or VLC on Windows

How to get VLC on Roku by mirroring from Windows

1. Install the VLC app on Windows, then launch. 

2. Click the Notification icon at the bottom right of the Windows desktop. 

3. If needed to see all the icons, click “Expand.” Then find and click “Connect.”

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Click “Connect” from the Notification icon on the desktop.

4. In the pane that pops out of the right side of the desktop, find and select your Roku device.

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Select your Roku device when it appears.

5. On the TV, use the Roku remote to select “Allow.” 

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Be sure to allow the content from your PC to appear on the Roku.

Your PC should now be mirrored on the Roku. Open the VLC Player app – its contents should be displayed on the TV. 

How to get VLC on Roku by mirroring from Android

1. Install the VLC app on your Android.

2. You can mirror to Roku from almost any Android device, but the name of the mirror feature varies depending on which Android device you are using. In general, you can find it by swiping down from the top of the screen to display the quick-access icons (or open Settings and select “Connection and sharing”). Some of the names that this feature goes by includes Cast, Screen Cast, Smart View, Quick Connect, HTC Connect, and Smart Share. Find the casting feature for your phone and tap it. 

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Start casting from your phone. On this Samsung Galaxy, the feature is called “Smart View,” but the name will vary from phone to phone.

3. Make sure you enable casting. Look for your Roku to appear in the list of devices and then tap it. You might need to confirm you want to do this. 

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Select the Roku device when you see it.

4. On the TV, use the Roku remote to select “Allow.” 

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Allow the Roku to mirror your phone, and you can access VLC from your Roku.

Your Android phone’s screen should now be mirrored on the Roku. Open the VLC Player app and watch the mirrored videos on your TV screen.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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