This week the TechCrunch team threw another successful Disrupt conference, this time in New York City. 20 companies took the stage at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield, where they presented their products and took questions from our expert judges. The judges narrowed the competition down to five finalists. But RecordGram, a mobile recording studio where aspiring artists can find beats, create songs and get signed, won first place in the competition. You can listen to all of the interviews from our panelists including Derek Jeter, Naval Ravikant, Steve Case and many more on iTunes.
Disrupt was preceded by a 24-hour Hackathon, during which 750 engineers and designers got together to create a cool hack. reVIVE, a VR solution created by a team of high school students that can provide both a diagnostic and treatment mechanism for ADHD, won first place. You can read about all of the hacks here. In the mean time, here are some of the top tech stories from this week.
1. WannaCry(pt) global ransomware attack wreaks havoc on systems worldwide
A huge global ransomware attack based on leaked NSA hacking tools spread like wildfire among unpatched Windows systems worldwide on Friday. Early reports suggested it was targeted at the UK’s National Health Service, leading to routine appointments being cancelled. Thousands of computers were apparently affected in Russia alone. Critics have suggested a lack of government funding has left the NHS wide open to malware attacks that exploit outdated software, as the attack continued to wreak havoc on systems worldwide. It was only stopped by accident after a security researcher registered a web domain that had been hard-coded into it as a kill switch.
2. Google announces Google Lens and Google.ai, and Google Home gets proactive assistance
Artificial intelligence was the name of the game at Google’s annual I/O developer conference. Google Home is getting hands-free calling and proactive alerts, Android O beta went live (but we still don’t know what the O stands for), a new AI initiative that wants to make AI advances accessible to everyone was announced and Google Lens, a new tech that wants to bring more smarts into your phone’s camera, was announced.
3. The FCC officially proposes to end net neutrality rules
The FCC voted to initiate a process to repeal the strong net neutrality rules that have been in place since 2015. The Senate Democrats penned an open letter, explaining that the existing net neutrality rules protect this foundation and the connected society that we all enjoy. Don’t let the FCC take that away.
4. Instagram launches selfie filters, copying the last big Snapchat feature
Instagram’s testing of Location Stories was also revealed on the Disrupt stage, but the company’s main announcement of the week was that it is launching selfie filters for Instagram Stories. When asked about whether it is copying Snapchat, Instagram VP of Product Kevin Weil stated that “This is just the way the tech industry works.”
5. SpaceX successfully launches its heaviest geostationary orbital payload yet
SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a payload from communications satellite company Inmarsat, the fourth in a constellation created to provide high-bandwidth broadband internet globally. The payload is the largest ever launched on a Falcon 9, which is why the mission parameters didn’t call for an attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket.