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India’s electric bike rental startup Yulu inks strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, raises $8M – TechCrunch

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Yulu, a Bangalore-based electric bike sharing platform that maintains a partnership with Uber, said today it has won the backing of one of the country’s largest automakers.

The two-year-old startup said it has entered into a strategic partnership with Bajaj Auto, which has also funded Yulu’s $8 million Series A financing round. As part of the partnership, Bajaj will co-design and manufacture future generation of Yulu two-wheelers, Amit Gupta, cofounder and chief executive of Yulu, told TechCrunch in an interview.

Yulu, which operates in Bengaluru and recently entered portions of New Delhi and Mumbai, has raised about $18.5 million from VCs to date, he said. Yulu has also raised money in debt, but it declined to reveal the figure.

The startup maintains over 3,000 electric bikes on its platform. A customer, who does not need a driving license, can rent the bike through Yulu’s app for 14 cents, pay 14 cents for each hour of usage and then park it at the nearest zone.

Gupta said Yulu plans to have 100,000 two-wheelers in its fleet by end of next year. And that’s where its partnership with Bajaj Auto would come in handy. The startup currently relies on its Chinese original design manufacturer partners to build its bikes. But Bajaj Auto, which has decades of experience building two-wheelers in the nation, will be taking care of the manufacturing from here, he said.

“They clearly have much better understanding of the Indian context,” he said. Bajaj Auto announced last month that it was reviving a decades old, sleeper hit scooter model Chetak, only this time it would run on electric. “They know the micro-mobility and share-mobility spaces. The partnership is bringing together the combined learning of building Yulu network and operational learning of Chetak,” he said.

In a statement, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj, said, “in Yulu we find an experienced and committed partner with robust achievement of success metrics in a very short time. And this is why we decided to partner with them in their journey of bringing Yulu service to every neighborhood of Urban India.”

Yulu is also expanding its presence quickly in the nation. In Delhi, it has secured the permission to offer electric bikes at 250 subway stations. “We are already servicing in nine of those,” said Gupta, who also co-founded advertising tech giant InMobi .

“We work through clusters. So we deploy about 1000 vehicles, and set up 200 to 300 parking stations and 25 to 30 charging stations. We have been able to replicate this cluster model in many places,” he said.

These bikes can ride as fast as 25 kmph (15.5 mph), and cover 60 kms (37.2 miles) in one charging cycle. The startup works with mom and pop stores and individuals to expand its parking and charging stations. “It’s very economical,” Gupta said. Yulu also has an army of workers who swap the used battery with a freshly charged one, he said.

The market of two-wheelers has grown in India despite the proliferation of taxi services in the country in recent years. With major cities in India grappling with ever growing traffic congestions, the future of two-wheelers seems brighter than ever. Gupta said Yulu’s partnership with Uber has chugged along smoothly and they may extend it soon.

Ride-hailing giant Ola has invested $100 million in scooter rental startup Vogo. Ola has also invested heavily in two-wheeler category. In September, it said its two-wheeler business — Ola Bike — was already operational in 150 Indian cities and towns and projected it would hit 450 cities and towns by next year. Both Yulu and Vogo compete with Bounce, which is also based in Bangalore. Ather Energy, another Bangalore-based startup that manufactures electric-scooters, raised $51 million in May.



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AYA-NEO puts a different spin on the PC gaming handheld

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By now, the idea of a handheld Windows computer is no longer novel but their implementations are still rare. The earliest models, mostly from GPD, had to make do with either less powerful Intel Atoms or, later on, beefier Intel Cores that still weren’t made for gaming. It was only with the 11th gen Intel processors with Iris Xe graphics that PC gaming handhelds may have started getting a chance but the AYA-NEO is taking a different route towards that portable gaming PC goal.

The AYA-NEO takes after the Nintendo Switch, or rather the Nintendo Switch Lite with its permanently attached controllers flanking the screen. This was the same design adopted by the GPD WIN 3 which just finished its own crowdfunding run. The key difference in design is that the WIN 3 used a sliding mechanism to reveal a capacitive keyboard which, based on early reviews, was more of a liability than a winning feature, pun intended.

The differences run deep, however, and the AYA-NEO has one other defining trait. It runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U which, among other things, comes with a Radeon mobile graphics processor. Naturally, the AYA-NEO boasts of the ability to run games that wouldn’t otherwise run on Intel-only silicon. that includes the infamous Cyberpunk 2077, though only at 30 fps.

The AYA-NEO also has a larger 7-inch screen but with a 1280×800 resolution only. In addition to your usual game controller buttons, it also has shortcuts for some keyboard combos and keys needed for some PC games. With gyro and accelerometer sensors, the entire handheld can also be used to control games or maybe rotate the display for other games and apps.

At around $790 for the base 512GB model on Indiegogo, the AYA-NEO is a rather hefty investment. The campaign is also offering add-ons like a dock that will turn the gaming PC into a true desktop with the right peripherals. The campaign zipped past its funding goals with 28 days to spare but, as with any crowdfunded product, it will take faith and patience before the final item is delivered to your doorstep.

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Apple iCloud bug locks user with “True” surname

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Many computer software, be it locally or on the cloud, are designed to take into account ways that people, intentionally or not, could break the system. Programmers tend to account for potential errors in human input or intentional methods of gaming the system, but it’s statistically impossible to be prepared for all of them. One strange case, in particular, has seemingly locked an Apple iCloud user from her account for months, just because Apple cloud storage software wasn’t prepared to handle someone whose last name happens to be “True”.

In many computer languages, “true” is a reserved keyboard to denote something that is, well, true. Of course, that is also a normal and often-used word in the English language and may even be someone’s name. Unfortunately, a single capitalization mistake seems to have made iCloud’s software mistake one for the other and lock Rachel True out of her account.

The author took to Twitter to express her frustration at a months-long problem that didn’t have any end in sight. Her surname is “True” but, whether by her own mistake or the system’s, was changed to “true” somewhere in the process. That, in turn, was interpreted by the software as an actual part of the code and triggered a bug that locked her out of her iCloud account.

This would have been a funny anecdote if not for the fact that Ms. True has been trying to get that situation fixed since September last year to no avail. In the meantime, she was still paying the monthly subscription fee for Apple iCloud despite not having access to it, probably just to keep her files intact. According to some programmers, what looks like a trivial issue may not actually be that simple to fix, especially if it means touching a cloud-based service used by thousands of users around the world.

The somewhat good news is that all the media attention finally got True part of her intended results. Apple said they will get back to her next week, hopefully with a real and more permanent solution.

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Galaxy A52 and A72 leaks paint an encouraging picture

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Samsung’s premier premium smartphone for early 2021 is already out and it’s time to give its other models, particularly those for lower tiers, their time under the spotlight. It seems that that time will be coming soon if the steady flow of leaks for the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 is any indicator. These phones will undoubtedly be mid-range but it seems that Samsung has prepared some features that could make the phones more enticing beyond just their accessible price tags.

The Galaxy A52 was already leaked in its entirety, revealing all the specs and even the design of the phone. Now the phone has been spotted in alleged hands-on photos, confirming the matte finish on its back and four cameras in a smaller camera bump. The tipster also confirmed the IP67 dust and water resistance rating of the phone as well as the 64MP main camera.

Perhaps more interesting are the details surrounding the Galaxy A72. Although the Snapdragon 720G on 4G LTE model may sound a bit disappointing, the rest of the specs, do sound a bit hopeful. More importantly, however, the phone also brings a few features that have never before been seen in the Galaxy A series.

It is, for example, the first in its tier to be given Samsung’s “Space Zoom” feature, though only up to 30x zoom. It is also the first to feature dual stereo speakers, utilizing the top earpiece as the second audio output.

Both the Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72 also appeared early on Samsung UAE’s website, confirming the appearance and specs of the phones. It could hint that the two are just around the corner but the actual launch date might not be until later this month or early April at the latest.

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