Field Trip app for Android updated with Material Design and improved notifications

Field Trip update

Get those consent forms signed by your parents, kids, and get ready for a new Field Trip. Although, this isn’t really a new adventure, it’s just a great update by Google’s Niantic Labs to their Field Trip app for Android. Material Design leads the charge, bug fixes and performance improvements follow the company line and improved notifications bring up the rear.

For many, Google’s Niantic Labs is best known for their popular augmented reality game, Ingress. In the game, players physically traverse the globe while digitally conquering an in-game alternate reality. Field Trip is an app that provides a tour guide approach to the same globe trotting, revealing interesting information about places and things all around the world, just without the portals to smash.

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Pillow Raises $2.65 Million To Take The Friction Out Of Airbnb Rentals

Airbnb has grown quickly over the last several years, but there are still parts of its marketplace that are difficult to navigate.

Due to the nature of peer-to-peer rentals, guests never really know what to expect before stepping into a space that they’re renting. Meanwhile hosts have to worry about stuff like key handoff, cleaning, and the like, and many aren’t sure how they should price their listings.

A startup called Pillow (formerly Airenvy) thinks that it can help hosts address common issues, while also standardizing the experience for guests. To do so, the company has raised $2.65 million in funding to expand.

Currently available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Napa, Pillow seeks to reduce the friction that comes in hosting and in renting out a space on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. On the host side, the company does a lot of the hard work related to things like cleaning, changing sheets, key handoff, and other ‘concierge’-type services that hosts might not be around to do.

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This Developer Launched a Wildly Successful Company From His Dorm Room

Company: Applico
Initial investment: $9,000
How he spent it: Advertising, website, travel for meetings, legal fees. His first big job brought in $100,000.
2014 revenue: $10 million

Ever since childhood, Alex Moazed wanted to start his own company. In the spring of 2009, as a 20-year-old junior at Babson College, a Boston-area hotbed of entrepreneurial fervor, he took the plunge. In his dorm room, he began racking up $9,000 worth of credit card charges–for website development, advertising, and legal fees–to launch an app services company called Applico. It was a gutsy move, but Moazed thought the risks were reasonable: Apple had launched its app store a year earlier, and he felt confident that the resulting new market for digital services would continue growing.

He also knew that he wanted to save money by being a service company, creating apps for clients, rather than making his own. Moazed had just experimented with being a product developer, building an app to help commuters navigate New York City’s public transit system. It was a big success, becoming a best-selling travel app for BlackBerry and turning a profit in a few months–but hiring programmers was expensive. More apps would require even more funding, and Moazed was intimidated by the thought of asking venture capitalists for money. He also knew that outside funding always comes with strings. By starting a service company, he could shift the development costs onto the client, which takes on the risk in return for owning the final product.

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As It Seeks New Regulations In NY, Airbnb Estimates It Would Collect $65 Million In Taxes There

Airbnb has been trying to win over regulators and lawmakers in New York by pledging to crack down on illegal hotel operations and collect taxes from rentals that happen on its platform. In an effort to get new regulations passed to legitimize its service in NY, the company put an estimate of just how much the city and state is missing out on by not allowing it to collect taxes there.

In a letter to the NY State Legislature and NY City Council today, Airbnb global policy chief David Hantman estimated that Airbnb could collect as much as $65 million in hotel occupancy taxes this year, and that number would only increase over time.

In fact, that number has already grown rapidly — from $21 million that Airbnb had estimated it would contribute in taxes to New York just nine months ago.

There’s just one catch: Before Airbnb can begin collecting and remitting those taxes, the state and local governments in New York would first need to create a new legal framework for it to do so. Airbnb is hoping New York lawmakers will follow those in San Francisco and Portland in that regard by creating regulations that make renting out your home legal in that market.

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Airbnb Is Inc.’s 2014 Company of the Year

Admit it. When you first heard about people renting rooms in one another’s homes over the internet, without much more than a friendly email exchange to break the ice, you thought it was a crazy idea. Maybe a little creepy. After all, it’s one thing to participate in the so-called sharing economy by pushing some buttons on your phone and watching a sleek black Uber vehicle roll up. It’s another to show up at a stranger’s home and nestle in for a few days–or hand your house keys to some guy from the internet.

And yet the founders of Airbnb–Brian Chesky, 33; Nathan Blecharczyk, 31; and Joe Gebbia, 33–have convinced many, many strangers to do just that. So far, about 20 million of them; 10 million in 2014 alone. This year, their website surpassed 800,000 listings worldwide, which means they now offer more lodging than Hilton Worldwide or InterContinental Hotels Group or any other hotel chain in the world.

Seven years ago, they were guys with a website, three air mattresses, and ambitions that to many people sounded silly, naive, and reckless. Since then, they have revolutionized the way people think about travel, displaced the hospitality industry’s established players, and generated billions in revenue for themselves and their hosts.

Airbnb has changed many people’s lives for the better, as entrepreneurs have long tried to do. What makes this company so noteworthy this year is that it has moved beyond building a disruptive business to battling entrenched interests. Airbnb is hardly alone; after all, this is the year that the U.S. Supreme Court declared internet television startup Aereo’s business model illegal, and regulators from Dallas to Germany slapped back at car service operator Uber. Airbnb has also repeatedly found itself and its hosts on the wrong side of the law.

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The Biggest Time Savers for Business Travelers (Infographic)

Spending on global business travel reached $1 trillion in 2013 and is expected to grow more than 8 percent in 2014, according to data from the Global Business Travel Association.

Some of the tools being used to optimize business travel today include setting up push notifications via mobile devices to automate and anticipate traveler logistics. The gamification of business travel and an increase in traveler perks are also expected to help drive cost efficiencies.

The infographic below from American Express explains how innovation in business travel is helping maximize traveler productivity.

GrabTaxi Raises $65 million To Increase The Competition With Uber In Southeast Asia

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the taxi app war is exclusively a US phenomenon, such is the fierce battle between Uber and Lyft, but similar rivalries are actually ongoing across other parts of the world. The battle is heating up in Southeast Asia today, after GrabTaxi — a Malaysia-headquarted company that is active in six countries — announced a $65 million investment round that it hopes will enable it to defeat Uber in Southeast Asia.

The company has been busy raising funding this year. This round is the third investment it has announced since April. Though undisclosed, GrabTaxi says it takes it to “approximately $90 million” in funding this year. Given that it raised around $10 million in April, and a further $15 million in May, this Series C round is around $65 million.

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