Leaked iPhone pics show glass back and headphone jack

The headphone jack could still have a future in an iPhone. These leaked pics show an iPhone SE 2 with a glass back and headphone jack. Like the current iPhone SE, the design seems to be a take on the classic iPhone 5. I dig it.

The leak also states the upcoming device sports wireless charging, which puts it inline with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Rumors have long stated that Apple was working on an updated iPhone SE. The original was released in March 16 and updated a year later with improved specs. With a 4-inch screen, the iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone Apple offers and also the cheapest.

WWDC in early June is the next major Apple event and could play host for the launch of this phone. Last month, around the iPhone SE’s birthday, Apple held a special event in a Chicago school to launch an education-focused iPad. It’s logical that Apple pushed the launch of this new iPhone SE to WWDC to give the iPad event breathing room.

While Apple cut the headphone jack from its flagship devices, the SE looks to retain the connection. It makes sense. The low-cost iPhone is key for Apple in growing markets across the world where the last two models helped grow iOS’s market penetration. This is Apple’s low-cost offering and thus suggests Apple doesn’t expect buyers to also spring for its wireless earbuds.

If released at WWDC or later in the year, the iPhone SE looks to serve consumers who enjoy smaller phones with headphone jacks. That’s me.

Particle brings an LTE cellular model to market for networked devices working off of 2G and 3G

Particle, a developer of networking hardware and software for connected devices, has released an LTE-enabled module for product developers.

The new device specifically targets folks whose devices were reliant on retiring 2G and 3G networks, according to the company, and include built-in cloud and SIM support.

Even as big telecom companies and vendors move ahead with 4G and now 5G networking equipment, those technologies aren’t necessarily the best for most networked devices, according to Particle .

LTE hardware is cheaper, has better battery life, and ranges that are more appropriate for industrial devices that may need to communicate across distances or through obstacles (like walls, other machines, doors, or floors).

Particularly, Particle sees demand for its devices in hard-to-reach or widely dispersed sensor networks — like industrial factory floors or in an agricultural monitoring setting for a farm or field.

“As US carriers are quickly moving to end 2G and 3G support, and global carriers plan for LTE network rollouts, the timing for an LTE strategy is more critical than ever,” according to a statement Bill Kramer, EVP of IoT Solutions at KORE, which provides managed IoT networks, application enablement, location based services

The new LTE product is part of a suite of offerings from Particle — including a device cloud, operating system, and developer toolkit, the company said.

By providing a pre-integrated solution, Particle said that its hardware represents a faster, far less complicated path to market.

“We launched our cellular development kit, the Electron, to give our developer community access to the power of cellular,” said Zach Supalla, Co-Founder and CEO of Particle, in a statement. “The following industrial E Series line made go-to-market with 2G/3G scalable for enterprises. Now with our LTE module, businesses will evolve alongside the quickly-changing cellular landscape without missing a beat.”

Particle’s new lineup now includes two LTE CAT-M1 models (LTE B13 and LTE B2/4/5/12) and is fully certified, low profile, surface mountable for industrial environments, and powered by Qualcomm’s MDM9206 IoT Modem and u-blox’s Sara-R410-02B module.

The new LTE hardware evaluation kit ships for $89 with an evaluation board, a sample temperature sensor, and accessories to build out a proof of concept, the company said. Individual modules are priced at $69.

Particle counts 8,500 customers and more than 140,000 developers among its customers building networking technologies for consumer and industrial devices. The company says its customers range from global energy provider Engie and design studio Ideo to indoor crops provider Grow Labs and coffee pioneer Keurig .

 

What did VCs study in college?

Although some colleges may offer a major program in business or entrepreneurship, there isn’t exactly a major in venture capital or angel investment.

Crunchbase News has already examined where professional VCs and angel investors went to college (yes, there’s some truth to the Harvard and Stanford stereotypes) and when having an MBA matters in the world of entrepreneurial finance. But we haven’t yet looked at one facet of startup investors’ educational backgrounds: what they studied in college. So that’s what we’re going to dive into today.

To accomplish this, we’re going to use the educational histories from nearly 5,000 VC American and Canadian investment partners (e.g. folks who are employed by and invest on behalf of a venture capital firm) and nearly 8,500 angel investors in Crunchbase. For those with undergraduate degrees (e.g. B.S., B.A., A.B., and all manner of other variations) and majors listed, we then categorized majors into broader fields of study.1

In the chart below, you’ll see a breakdown of professional VCs’ college degrees.

Because startup investors are ostensibly focused on technology companies, the fact that most professional venture capitalists have a background in engineering (electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering mostly, but there are some more niche areas like nuclear engineering represented here) or technical subjects (like information systems and materials science) is predictable.

What might be most interesting here is just how few investment partners majored in formal sciences like math or computer science, ranking lower than the humanities by just a hair.

However, this is not the case with angel investors. The chart below displays the breakdown of college degrees for U.S. and Canadian angel investors. It keeps the same color coding as the chart for VCs’ degrees.

Among individual angel investors who are unaffiliated with a venture capital firm, a background in math and computer sciences is more likely.

There are a number of other fun facts to be found in the data:

  • For both professional VCs and angel investors who studied in the social sciences, economics majors vastly outnumber other disciplines like political science, sociology and psychology.
  • Finance, somewhat unsurprisingly, was the most popular subject for investment partners who majored in a business-related field. Undergraduate degrees in marketing and business administration were also common.
  • A lot of angel investors studied entrepreneurship as undergrads, whereas comparatively few professional VCs formally studied the subject.
  • History was, by far, the most popular subject area in the humanities for both angels and venture capitalists.

So what does all of this tell us? At least by our reading, the academic backgrounds of startup investors is quite diverse. And this would make sense. There isn’t a clear career path to becoming a venture capitalist or to having enough money and enthusiasm to make angel investments.

Our first-blush analysis also suggests that folks who studied computer science, mathematics and statistics are potentially under-represented among professional venture capital investors. Considering that many of the startups in which VCs invest are built around a new computing technology on the software or hardware side, this is a rather weird and inexplicable irony.

If you find yourself in college and want to invest in startups someday, either as a professional VC or as an angel investor, study what you want. There’s going to be a lot of other factors besides your undergraduate major that will land you a position in the field.

Footnotes:

  1. Biology, chemistry and geology degrees are more broadly categorized as “natural sciences.” Math and computer science are “formal sciences.” Political science, economics, psychology and sociology are part of the “social sciences” field.

ICOs like to move fast and break (lots of) things

Startup life is full of quick, lateral thinking. “Move fast and break things” is the mantra. However, with the rise of token sales – essentially vehicles for untested startups to raise millions in a few minutes – lots of stuff gets broken and little gets fixed.

Take BCT – the Blockchain Terminal – for example. This frothy project led by Bob Bonomo, a former hedge fund guy turned Blockchain guru, features some interesting breakages.

Yesterday at about 3pm Eastern Time the company’s FAQ – which has since been updated but is still hidden here – read something like this:

While this sort of techno greeking is fine if you’re sending mock-ups back and forth, the token sale had been running since April 1st, a fact that was baffling to me and another reporter. Was this an April Fool’s joke? No, because when I visited the sale’s Telegram room I found a group of happy buyers asking questions about their future tokens.

Ever the reporter, I asked if anyone had seen the terminals and a community manager sent me this:

Interesting… blank screens at a demo event. The other CM, quicker on the draw, sent this:

Fair enough. In fact, crypto needs a product like this to legitimize it with Wall Street. But clearly they were moving so fast that the wheels were falling off.

Finally I did the obvious thing: visit the white paper. There we find that the Terminal is being built in conjunction with FactSet, a venerable research company that has seen all the vicissitudes of financial data. In fact, the paper is a tour-de-force on par with the best of the white papers I’ve seen. But we also discover that the white paper is a draft.

In short, BCT wouldn’t pass the average human investor sniff test but is definitely well on the way to completing its token sale. This is a problem.

BCT is not alone. I’ve spoken to development houses working with founders who barely understand cryptocurrency let alone understand their own token sales. I’ve seen founders’ eyes light up like the Big Bad Wolf eyeing Porky Pig when they talk about all the capital they will unlock. And I spoke to a founder on stage who said he would be very careful with the $80 million they raised for a company designed to raise money for ICOs. Greed is clouding this market in ways that are at once dangerous and comical.

There is precedent for this. In the early days of the Internet and even the frothiest dot-com days you could see the avarice in the eyes of Pets.com and Cisco executives who knew that big money was just around the corner. And we can’t begrudge these founders their excitement. What founder wouldn’t want the sweet feeling of being fully funded for, we presume, the next decade?

I’ve been following token sales with great interest over the past few months for a few reasons. First, I understand the hype cycle. I’ve seen tactics used by token sellers used before by hardware sellers, most notably with flops like the Phantom gaming console and the Notion Ink Adam, and there is a stink that permeates projects that are, at best, half-baked.

I want token sales to thrive as a method to raise capital. I want small startups to be able to turn on a spigot previously available to the well-connected and well-heeled. But the exact opposite seems true. Bankers are moving into a technology space that they little understand while carpetbaggers – lawyers, PR folks, advisors – are working hard to extract cash out of these windfalls. In the end the token sale industry should formalize itself and become as boring as the VC industry. I just hope it survives long enough to get there.

A peace plan to end the wireless wars

No one would have predicted that the three of us would ever find ourselves on the same side of the corporate patent wars, let alone speak with one voice about how to end them.

That’s because one of us is the patent chief at a global smartphone maker (and an influential critic of patent licensing abuses); another is the former licensing chief at Apple and current chief executive of a non-practicing entity (NPE) patent licensing company that has been a target of criticism from product manufacturers; while the third is president of a patent pool operator, who has criticized companies on both sides of the patent wars for their gamesmanship, lack of transparency, and litigiousness.

We have come together because we see that patent owners and product makers have become trapped in an endless cycle of demands, counter-demands, and unproductive litigation. Unless we find a way out of this conflict, we will almost certainly see a repeat of yesterday’s costly and wasteful smartphone wars in tomorrow’s wireless connected car sector.

Product makers accuse patent owners of threatening lawsuits and using the expense of the legal process in order to demand extortionate royalties for their patent rights. For their part, patent owners say product makers refuse to pay fair compensation for the patented wireless, audio, and video features that give their products value as communication and entertainment devices.

The truth is, both sides have a point. That’s because patent owners and product makers are caught in a classic “prisoner’s dilemma,” in which the lack of transparency and fair ground rules in patent licensing lead companies on each side of a patent dispute to try to game the other. This only ensures that both sides suffer a negative outcome in outrageously-expensive litigation.

Unlike in the real property business, in intellectual property (IP) licensing there is little or no independent appraisal of the assets (i.e., patents) or transparency as to how prices are determined. And because most patent license agreements are confidential, there is little or no information or “comps” on what others have paid for similar patent rights. Nor are there any widely-accepted ground rules for what constitutes fair negotiating practices between buyers and sellers.

This is especially true in regards to standards-essential wireless patents, which are supposed to be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. But what’s fair or reasonable about the fact that an impossibly-large number of LTE (4G) cellular patents — more than 60,000, in fact — have been declared “standards essential” without any independent evaluation of those patents whatsoever?

That’s right, those 60,000-plus patents have all been self-declared “standards-essential” by companies each seeking their own commercial advantage. What you’ve got is a wireless gold rush — with plenty of fool’s gold posing as real gold.

So the three of us, working with industry leaders on both sides of the patent owner vs. product maker divide, have developed a three-pronged plan for ending the wireless patent wars and creating a more productive and less litigious patent licensing sector.

First, whittle down this ridiculous mountain of self-interested wireless patent claims to the fewer than 2,000 patent families that most experts believe are truly essential to smartphone handset makers. We can do this by excluding duplicative patents, expired patents, patents not in force in major economic markets, and patents for base station, infrastructure, and other innovations not relevant to handset makers. Independent, neutral evaluators will then confirm each patent’s relevance to the LTE standard for handsets.

Second, base royalty prices not on the subjectively-argued value of each individual patent examined in a vacuum, but on the objective value of the entire stack of LTE patents in a phone. A recent court judgment valued that LTE stack at roughly $20 for a smartphone with an average selling price of $324, but with greater price transparency from both sides, the market itself will likely set a rational price for the LTE stack. Royalties can then be paid to patent owners roughly proportionate to each patent owner’s percentage share of the total LTE patent stack.

And third, ensure greater transparency by promoting collective licensing solutions such as patent pools that openly publish their pricing frameworks and offer consistent terms to all licensees. Given the “prisoner’s dilemma” dynamics in patent licensing today, it is unrealistic to expect any one patent owner to unilaterally forego potential business advantage by revealing its pricing strategies. But collective licensing approaches such as patent pools reduce the risks of transparency for everyone.

As the IP journal Intellectual Asset Management recently noted, “There’s a growing sense that a collective approach to licensing could help solve some of the problems of the industry which, in sectors like mobile, has been scarred by long-running and costly disputes between patent owners and potential licensees.”

Our “peace plan” would eliminate many of the incentives and opportunities for gamesmanship in wireless patent licensing. And most importantly, it would help patent owners and product makers avoid a repeat of yesterday’s costly smartphone wars in tomorrow’s connected car, autonomous vehicle, and Internet of Things (IoT) industries.

It’s time for a new realignment in the industry — one in which the conflict is no longer between product maker and patent owner, but between those who license patents on a fair and transparent basis, and those who do not.

What Apple’s education announcements mean for accessibility

From an accessibility news standpoint, this week’s Apple event in Chicago was antithetical to the October 2016 event. At the latter event, Apple began the presentation with a bang — showing the actual video being edited using Switch Control in Final Cut. Tim Cook came out afterwards to talk some about Apple’s commitment to serving the disabled community before unveiling the then-new accessibility page on the company’s website.

By contrast, the education-themed event in Chicago this week went by with barely a mention of accessibility. The only specific call-out came during Greg Joswiak’s time on stage talking about iPad, when he said “accessibility features make iPad a learning tool for everyone.”

That doesn’t mean, however, accessibility has no relevance to what was announced.

I was in the audience at Lane Tech College Prep on Tuesday covering the event. As a former special educator –and special education student — I watched with keen interest as Apple told their story around education. While Apple is targeting the mainstream, I came away with strong impressions on how Apple can make serious inroads in furthering special education as well.

It’s Called ‘Special’ for a Reason

Apple is obviously—rightfully—building their educational strategy towards mainstream students in mainstream classes. It’s a classic top-down approach: Teachers assign students work via handouts, for such activities as writing essays or completing science projects. This is the entire reason for Apple’s Classroom and Schoolwork apps. However well-designed, they lack an element.

Where they lack is there is nothing afforded, at least in specific terms, to teachers and students in special education settings. Apple’s strategy here is defined, again, by the classic teacher-student relationship, without any regard for other models. I’m not levying a criticism on the company; this is the reality.

At many levels, special education classrooms do not function in a way that’s conducive to Apple’s vision for learning at this time. In the moderate-to-severe early childhood (Pre-K) classrooms I worked in for close to a decade, the structure was such that most, if not all, activities were augmented by a heavy dose of adult support. Furthermore, most of our students were pulled out of class at certain times for additional services such as speech services and physical/occupational therapy sessions.

In short, there were no lectures or essay prompts anywhere.

This is where accessibility comes in. There is enormous potential for Apple to dig deeper and expand the toolset they offer to educators and students. To accommodate for special education is, in my view, akin to accommodating disabled users by offering accessibility features on each of Apple’s software platforms.

Special education is special for a reason. It involves ways of teaching and learning that are unique, and the people who work and learn in these environments deserve the same consideration.

Accessibility is Apple’s Secret Weapon

Leading up to the event, there was much talk in the Apple community of writers and podcasters that Google is eating Apple’s lunch in the schools market because Chromebooks are dirt cheap for districts and most everyone relies on Google Docs.

I’m not interested in the particulars of this argument. What I am interested in, however, is simply pointing out that despite the perception Apple products are too expensive and less capable, they are better in one meaningful sense: accessibility.

Consider Chromebook versus iPad. In many levels of special education, an iPad is far superior to a Chromebook. The tablet’s multi-touch user interface is far more intuitive, and more importantly, iOS is built with accessibility in mind. From VoiceOver to Dynamic Type to Switch Control and more, an iPad (or an iPod Touch, for that matter) can provide a far more accessible and enriching learning experience for many students with disabilities than a Chromebook. And lest we forget the App Store effect; there are many outstanding apps geared for special ed.

This is a crucial point that many technology pundits who lament Apple’s position in the education market always seem to miss.

Making Special Educators More Special

One area where Apple can greatly improve the lives of teachers is by broadening the Schoolwork app such that it makes IEP prep easier and, playing to Apple’s core strength, more modern. Historically, even today, IEPs are planned and written using stacks of paperwork. Goals, assessments, and consent forms are handwritten (sometimes typed) and stapled together. And being a binding legal document, teachers must ensure there are the proper signatures on every page, or else be dinged for being out of compliance with protocols. In sum: the IEP is the bane of every special educator’s existence because they take so much time.

To this end, Apple could do special education teachers a grand service by adding a module of sorts to its Schoolwork app that would allow them to more easily create and track a student’s IEP. There could be charts for tracking goal progress, as well as ways to collate and distribute documents amongst the IEP team (SLPs, OT/PT, etc) and of course parents. Teachers could even send an email to parents with any consent forms attached and encourage them to sign with Apple Pencil on their iPad, if they have one.

At the very least, it would make IEP prep infinitely more efficient, and perhaps alleviate some of the stress at the actual meetings. Digitizing the process would be game-changing, I think.

Bottom Line

The ideas I’ve outlined here are well within Apple’s wheelhouse. They would likely need to collaborate with special educators and districts on things like IEP forms and policies, but it is certainly within them to do so. They can do this if they want.

To reiterate an earlier point, special education deserves just as much thoughtful consideration and innovation as the education industry at large. Given Apple’s unwavering support of accessibility, this is an area in which they can surely improve.

Baidu’s streaming video service iQiyi falls 13.6% in Nasdaq debut

The streaming video service iQiyi, a business owned by China’s online search giant Baidu, dropped 13.6% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq — closing at $15.55, or down $2.45 from its opening price of $18.

The company still managed to pull off one of the largest public offerings by a Chinese tech company in the past two years raising $2.25 billion — the only Chinese technology company to make a larger splash in U.S. markets is Alibaba — the commercial technology juggernaut which raised $21.5 billion in its public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

“It’s a special day and an exciting day for iQiyi, and I will say it’s also an exciting day for the Chinese internet,” said Baidu chief executive Robin Li of the iQiyi public offering.”Eight years ago, when we got started, we were not the first one, we were not the largest one, but we gradually worked our way up, and caught up and surpassed everyone. It has been not an easy journey, but finally we are public. We surpassed everyone. That’s because we have a very strong team. I have a full confidence on Gong Yu and on the whole iQiyi Team.”

Over its eight year history there’s no doubt that iQiyi has gone from laggardly to lustrous in the Chinese streaming video market. Baidu’s offering and Tencent’s video service have both managed to overtake the previous market leader Youku Tudou, which was acquired by Alibaba in 2016.

Tencent leveraged its 980 million monthly active users on the WeChat mobile messaging app, the 653 million monthly active users on its older QQ messaging platform and the company’s attendant social network (think Facebook) to juice growth of its video streaming offering, according to analysis from The Motley Fool.

For Baidu, the company’s pole position for online search became critical to the growth of iQiyi — along with a partnership to China’s ubiquitous hardware manufacturer and technology developer Xiaomi . The company also locked in early content licensing deals with big Hollywood studios like Lions Gate and Paramount — and a deal with Netflix to juice its subscriber base in China. By the end of 2017, Baidu was claiming more than 487 million monthly active users for the service.

The former leader in China’s video streaming market, Youku Tudou, seems to have wilted under the weight of its acquirer’s platform. Alibaba’s ecommerce was never a natural fit with online video streaming.

For all of their massive user bases each of China’s leading video streaming services face a profitability problem. For its part, iQiyi went to market with substantial losses of $574.4 million for the last fiscal year.

 

 

Apple’s “Pencil” now works with its iWork toolkit

Apple is bringing its pencil to the masses.

The pencil tool will now work across Apple’s suite of iWork tools — including the popular Pages (document creation) Numbers (its spreadsheet app), and Keynote (for presentations) apps — on the low-cost iPad that Apple first brought to market last year.

At an event today in Chicago, Apple announced its latest iPad, in a bid to challenge the dominant player in the education technology — Google (a subsidiary of Alphabet).

In addition, the company said that Logitech is introducing a $49 pencil stylus called the “crayon” which slashes the cost of the pencil hardware from its previous, $99 price point.

 

 

 

A $6 trillion wake up call for the tech industry

Earlier this year, the business community received a wake-up call issued with all of the might that $6 trillion can muster.

The call came from Laurence Fink, the founder and chief executive of the global investment firm, BlackRock, and was delivered as a letter to the CEOs of the world’s largest companies.

Aptly titled, “A Sense of Purpose,” the letter informed business leaders that driving record profits is no longer enough to garner BlackRock’s support. Companies must also positively contribute to society, or in Mr. Fink’s words, “Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”

I was elated when I read the letter. I’ve spent my entire career as a social entrepreneur advocating for businesses—specifically technology businesses in Silicon Valley—to use their technology, wealth, and influence for social good. After reading the letter in the New York Times and seeing the extensive coverage in major business publications, I turned to the leading Silicon Valley tech blogs to get their take on this blockbuster announcement. After all, the Bay Area is home to many of BlackRock’s largest clients.

Crickets. Fink’s letter wasn’t covered by the technology press. Well, to be accurate, I checked the first ten pages of Google results as well as all of the tech pubs in Techmeme’s top ten list. Nothing.

Guys (I hate to say it, but it’s mostly guys here in the Valley), Fink’s point is that ignoring society’s voice will lead to the loss of our “license to operate.” Putting the Valley’s collective hands over our ears and saying “we can’t hear you” only works for so long.

Instead, what if Silicon Valley embraced the letter to commit good for the better of society as a whole, not just the interests of the software and data industrial complex? What if Fink’s letter served as a constant reminder to build products that make the world a 10x more equitable place to live and prosper and not just to build products that deliver 10x profit?

With those questions in mind, here are two interrelated and crucial ways to commit good on purpose while making sure Silicon Valley technology companies embrace “A Sense of Purpose.”

Put People Before Algorithms. The goal of algorithms must not be to replace, manipulate, or deceive in the name of profit. This is all too often the case as black-box algorithms use massive amounts of data to attract eyeballs, encourage clicks, and, in more dire circumstances, even determine if someone goes to prison.

We must always ask up front how unaccountable algorithms impact individuals and society as a whole. Instead of eyeballs, clicks, and even prison time served, algorithms should be optimized to make people better—more efficient in their jobs, more informed in their daily lives, and more connected to their communities. We must make a cognizant effort to analyze and identify the risks of algorithms-gone-rogue before they result in disasters. Let’s not only ask, “How can we make more money?” but also, “What could go wrong?”

Risk-benefit analysis already takes place around boardroom tables by those with monetary interests, but those conversations fail to include the diverse voices of the communities that will feel the decision’s impact. There will never be perfect clarity around what will unfold after a decision is made. That’s exactly why decisions that impact thousands, millions, and even billions of people must include all company stakeholders—shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate—if we are ever to prevent a world where algorithms reign supreme in the name of profit.

Treat Diversity as Our Greatest Asset. It’s very easy to discount points of view, values, and even someone’s humanity when the voice of diversity is not present. Establishing diversity as a core company principle is a good start, but it’s not enough. Diversity must be omnipresent and it must be truly embraced across an organization as an asset, not a statistic.

Many in Silicon Valley will tell you that diversity has been a top priority for years, only to follow with reports that cite a 2% increase in women employees, 0% increase in black employees, and no data at all on the number of employees with disabilities. Let’s not conflate transparency with priority. We must increase diversity now while investing in STEM education and training to create a more diverse pipeline of workers for tomorrow’s technology jobs. By making the workforce of today and tomorrow more diverse, we make our communities more diverse. We are then one step closer to never discounting a point of view, value, or someone’s entire humanity due to a lack of voice.

It’s not too late to use Mr. Fink’s letter as a wake-up call for Silicon Valley to commit good on purpose. While the two proposals detailed in this article are aspirational, they have at their core something much more valuable than $6 trillion. These ideas are about regaining Silicon Valley’s conscience. They are about investing in a collective future that prizes diversity and equality, not a future that allows technology, data, and algorithms to further entrench the inequality that we face today in Silicon Valley and everywhere that feels our impact.

Nest’s video doorbell is now shipping

Back in September of last year, Nest announced its first smart doorbell. When it would actually ship, however, was left sort of up in the air; all the company said at the time was to expect it sometime in Q1 of 2018.

Turns out, that means today. The Nest doorbell — or the Nest Hello, as it’s known — is now shipping for $229.

Nest also mentioned a few other bits of news:

  • The front door lock/touchpad they built in partnership with Yale, also announced back in September of last year, is now shipping
  • They’re now making external, wireless, battery-powered temperature sensors for the Nest Thermostat (previously, the thermostat only really cared about the temperature of whichever room it was in). You can add up to six sensors. One sensor will cost $39, or a three pack goes for $99. The sensor (pictured at the bottom of this post) is a simple white puck, just a bit over an inch wide.

Not unlike the now Amazon-owned Ring, the Hello’s primary purpose is to let you know when someone rings the doorbell, and to let you see and communicate with them by way of the built-in camera/microphone/speaker rig. Out of the box, sans subscriptions, Nest will store the video of who rang your doorbell for 3 hours; if you want to access it beyond that, you’ll need a monthly Nest Aware subscription.

In most cases, hooking up the Hello should be a matter of popping out your old doorbell and wiring up the new one; it pulls its power from the same wiring setup that most doorbells use, and it should play friendly with any in-door chimes you probably already have in place.

Its got a 3-megapixel camera (with infrared night vision) for 1600×1200 video at 30 frames per second, a 160º field of view, and 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi. Unlike some competitors, it doesn’t have a battery — so you’ll need that aforementioned power line.

With that said, it’s got a few tricks I haven’t seen with others in the space, like a “Quiet time” mode for when you (or, say, your baby) are sleeping. It’ll still buzz your phone, but in-door chimes won’t go ringin’ away. Pre-recorded messages, meanwhile, let you communicate with delivery people and anyone else who might be hanging around your porch during those times when shouting “PLEASE LEAVE THE PACKAGE ON THE PORCH I’LL GRAB IT SHORTLY” might feel a bit weird.

We should have one to check out before too long, so expect a review as soon as we’ve put it through the paces.