Kakao is putting speech recognition tech into cars from Hyundai and Kia

 Less than a month after announcing plans to spin out its transportation and mobility business, Korean tech firm Kakao has inked deals to put hands-free systems inside cars from Korea’s second largest automotive firm Hyundai and its Kia affiliate. Kakao is best known for operating Korea’s top messaging app, Kakao Talk, which is installed on over 95 percent of the country’s… Read More

Grab gets $2B from Didi and SoftBank to fuel bid to defeat Uber in Southeast Asia

 Grab, the ride-hailing company competing with Uber in Southeast Asia, has pulled in $2 billion of new financing from existing investors Didi Chuxing, the company that defeated Uber in China, and SoftBank. Didi said the round could expand by $500 million more with input from other existing backers and new investors, too. A Grab representative confirmed that SoftBank’s Vision fund is not… Read More

Alibaba and Tencent are carving up Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem

 Two global tech forces are putting their mark — and money — into Southeast Asia’s nascent startup ecosystem, but they may not be the Western names that you expect. Rather than Google, Facebook or Microsoft, increasingly Chinese duo Alibaba and Tencent are the driving forces behind the importing of large sums of capital and vast business experience into Southeast… Read More

The Orii smart ring lets you control your smartphone using only your voice

 Orii is a new smart ring that gives you full hands-free control of your smartphone. The device connects to your phone with Bluetooth and it can be used to provide crystal clear audio, which makes it an interesting tool for those with sight or hearing issues. It works using bone conduction technology so that, when wearing the ring, simply putting a finger to your ear will give clear and… Read More

Chinese brands have invaded Indonesia’s fast-growing smartphone market

 If you’re looking for a market with smartphone sales growth potential then India usually comes to mind, but the market is moving forward with much promise in Indonesia, the world’s sixth largest country. A new report from IDC shows that smartphones sales in the country accelerated by 13 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2017. A total of 7.3 million devices shipped… Read More

Microsoft unveils a Cortana-powered thermostat

 The latest addition to the smart thermostat space is a product that includes Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant. We’re all familiar with the rise of the internet-enabled thermostats, thanks to the development of companies like Nest, and now Microsoft is entering the space after it partnered with Johnson Controls to develop a product called GLAS. The rather stunning looking… Read More

India’s Rentomojo raises $10M from Bain Capital and Lending Club founder

 Indian startup Rentomojo — which lets consumers rent appliances furniture, motorbikes and other urban living essentials — has closed a $10 million Series B to continue its expansion. The round was led by Bain Capital Ventures, and others that put in include Lending Club founder and former CEO Renaud Laplanche and existing investors Accel and IDG. It’s nearly one year to the… Read More

Samsung’s Bixby assistant finally comes to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ — but only in the US

 After much delay, Samsung has begun rolling out it Bixby smart assistant to users in the U.S.. The company said today that an update will allow owners of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ to gain voice capabilities for the service. Bixby is the Korean phone-maker’s take on Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but it didn’t ship with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ when… Read More

Apple’s Greater China business now has its own managing director for the first time

 Apple has appointed Isabel Ge Mahe as its first vice president and managing director of its business in Greater China. China-born Ge Mahe is tasked with managing Apple’s China business, and she will report into CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams when she takes up the role, which is based out of Shanghai, “later this summer.” Ge Mahe is currently located in California,… Read More

We went gaming at a VR arcade in Hong Kong

 TechCrunch was in Hong Kong last week for tech conference Rise — where we watched two robots talking together on stage, among other things. The event is well-known for its after-parties and social activities, but one night we sneaked away from the crowd with a few friends to check out a virtual reality arcade. Playdium is a new entry to the city, having only opened its doors at the start… Read More