The new Gmail will roll out to all users next month

Google today announced that the new version of Gmail will launch into general availability and become available to all G Suite users next month. The exact date remains up in the air but my guess is that it’ll be sooner than later.

The new Gmail offers features like message snoozing, attachment previews, a sidebar for both Google apps like Calendar and third-party services like Trello, offline support, confidential messages that self-destruct after a set time and more. It’s also the only edition of Gmail that currently allows you to try out Smart Compose, which tries to complete your sentences for you.

Here is what the rollout will look like for G Suite users (Google didn’t detail what the plan for regular users will look like, but if you’re not a G Suite user, you can already try the new Gmail today anyway and chances are stragglers will also get switched over to the new version at a similar pace as G Suite users).

Starting in July, G Suite admins will be able to immediately transition all of their users to the new Gmail, but users can still opt out for another 12 weeks. After that time is up, all G Suite users will move to the new Gmail experience.

Admins can also give users the option to try the new Gmail at their own pace or — and this is the default setting — they can just wait another four weeks and then Google will automatically give users the option to opt in.

Eight weeks after general availability, so sometime in September, all users will be migrated automatically but can still opt out for another four weeks.

That all sounds a bit more complicated than necessary, but the main gist here is: chances are you’ll get access to the new Gmail next month and if you hate it, you can still opt out for a bit longer. Then, if you still hate it, you are out of luck because come October, you will be using the new Gmail no matter what.

Apple TV gets Dolby Atmos and streamlined sign-ons for channels and services

Apple TV, still definitely not a hobby, has some new features being added as it grows. Tim Cook mentioned there are 50 percent more users now than there were last year, and no doubt they’ll be happy with the addition of Dolby Atmos audio and some nice sign-on streamlining.

Apple TV is now the only streaming player to be both Dolby Atmos and Vision certified. Assuming you’ve got a 4K HDR-capable TV, it could be nice to have, as iTunes boasts the biggest selection of content for those — but because hardly anyone does, it’s more of an aspirational feature at present.

There are more than 100 video channels now after the addition of several live news and sports ones. In France, Apple TV will be the exclusive provider of Canal+, and in Switzerland, Apple has partnered with Salt for a similar exclusive. And Charter Spectrum will also be coming to Apple TV later this year, so around 50 million people will be able to watch their normal cable content through the device. Finally!

Helpfully, many of these apps won’t require a separate log-in, including Charter Spectrum — as any smart TV user or cable cutter knows, managing these logons can be incredibly annoying. So a single sign-on (or zero sign-on, in some cases) will be a boon.

It is unclear what this means for those of us who share passwords between friends and family. Possibly not good.

If you’re a TV background video aficionado, you’ll also be interested in the new orbital video of Earth that can be displayed while nothing else is going on. It’s exclusive to Apple.

Apple introduces watchOS 5

Kevin Lynch from the watchOS team introduced the next version of watchOS at Apple’s WWDC keynote. It’s been a slow and steady rise for the Apple Watch. It’s by far the most popular smart watch, and it’s becoming slightly more useful every year.

This year is no different. There’s a new workout type for yoga, another one for hiking. You can now challenge your friends for a 7-day competition.

But I’m even more excited about automatic workout detection. If you grab your bike and your heart start beating more rapidly, your Apple Watch will track your workout automatically. You’ll also get notifications to end a workout.

As rumored, Apple is introducing a new Walkie-Talkie app for Apple Watch users. You press to record a message, release to send it. Your friend will receive a notification. That could open up interesting professional use cases. Cellular Apple Watches make this feature more useful too.

The Siri watch face is getting more integrations thanks to Siri shortcuts. You can receive a Citymapper suggestion for instance.

When it comes to the actual voice assistant, you won’t need to say “Hey Siri” anymore. You can just raise your wrist and start talking.

Apple has ported WebKit to watchOS, which opens up a lot of possibilities. You can view web content from your watch. Apple is adding native podcast support and background audio on the Apple Watch too.

Overall, Apple tackled a lot of low hanging fruits. But it’s a compelling pitch and makes the Apple Watch more essential than ever.

Apple introduces iOS 12

Apple announced the next version of iOS at its WWDC developer conference. While iOS 12 won’t be available before the fall, it’s always interesting to get a sneak peek at the next version of iOS.

Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi first talked about some numbers. 81 percent of iOS users are currently running iOS 11. 6 percent of Android users are currently on the last version.

“For iOS 12, we’re doubling down on performance,” Federighi said. iOS 12 is going to be available on all devices that currently support iOS 11.

It’s interesting the Federighi talked about iOS 12 on the iPhone 6 Plus. Apps launch 40 percent faster, the keyboard comes up 50 percent faster and opening the camera is 70 percent faster.

You get the idea, the big new feature of iOS 12 is performance and optimization.

But it doesn’t mean that Apple didn’t think about new features. Apple has created a new file format for augmented reality called USDZ. Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis talked for a couple of minutes to announce that Adobe apps are going to support USDZ.

Apple is launching a new app to educate people about augmented reality. This app is called Measure and works pretty much like popular third-party app MeasureKit. While Apple says USDZ is a file format for augmented reality, Federighi also showed a USDZ 3D file in the middle of an Apple News article.

And the company is also updating ARKit with multiplayer augmented reality. You can get the same augmented reality experience with multiple devices. The company invited Martin Sanders from Lego to talk about ARKit. You can point an iPad at a Lego set to add virtual buildings and objects, and recreate a tiny little city.

“Over a trillion photos are captured on the iPhone each year,” Federighi said. Apple is updating search with iOS 12. While you’ve been able tp search for objects or categories, such as cars, dogs, beach and hiking, it’s been hard to find. Apple is going to add suggestions to improve discovery.

Apple is reusing an Apple Music idea and adding a “For You” tab. It’ll show you old albums, memories, photos with people you care about and more. For You can also suggest you to share photos with friends and family members. When you share them, it looks like it creates a link that you can send in iMessage. The other person will also get a suggestion to share photos back. It’s like shared albums, but a bit refined.

As for Siri, Apple is introducing shortcuts. It’s not just for voice, Apple is also adding shortcuts on the lock screen or in the search screen for instance. If you’re running late for a meeting, you’ll get a suggestion to send a text to the other person. Shortcuts on the lock screen are like app suggestions, but with more specific actions.

Apple will open up shortcuts to third-party developers to store information or set up shortcuts. Developers will be able to put an “Add to Siri” button in their apps. For instance, you can store your flight details under the “flight to Portland” shortcut. So if you ask Siri that phrase, you’ll get your flight details.

The Workflow team has been working on the Shortcuts app. It’s just like the automation app Workflow that Apple acquired a couple of years ago. But you can also configure connected devices using Shortcuts, and trigger shortcuts using the HomePod. So there you go, Apple is back in the voice assistant game with this new ecosystem of shortcuts.

Apple is also redesigning Apple News and the Stocks app. There’s a new sidebar in the News app to improve navigation. You’ll also get a sort of Yahoo Finance in the Stocks app with share prices, headlines, after-hour pricing. The Stocks app is coming to the iPad too.

As for iBooks, rumors were right. Apple is adding audio books to iBooks (and removing them from the Music app). And the company is also rebranding iBooks to Apple Books. Finally, Apple is adding support for third-party navigation apps in CarPlay.

After this quick rundown of Apple’s new apps, Federighi presented the other pillar of iOS 12 — smarter notifications, do not disturb improvements. If you turn on Do Not Disturb at night, you won’t get a wall of notifications if you want to check the time in the middle of the night. You can also set Do Not Disturb until you move to another place.

And developers cheered like crazy when Federighi presented grouped notifications. It’s a good way to stack similar notifications from the same app. You’ll be able to configure your notifications directly from the home screen.

Many accused Apple of not paying attention to the addictive aspect of smartphones. With Screen Time, your phone can give you an overview of things you do with your phone so that you waste less time mindlessly scrolling through feeds. You can also set up a time limit to receive a notification when you’ve been on Instagram for a while for instance. Obviously, Screen Tim means better parental controls. You can limit some apps, track your kid’s usage and more.

But let’s talk about the most important feature of iOS — animojis. Apple is adding new characters — a ghost, a koala, a tiger, a T-rex. Your phone will now track your tongue.

More importantly, you’ll be able to create your own Memoji. Apple is basically copying Snap’s Bitmoji (or the Xbox avatars or Nintendo’s Miis…). You can create your own avatar, add accessories and change clothes.

In Messages, there are new camera effects that work a bit like Instagram’s or Messenger’s filters, blending your Memoji on top of your face.

Switching gear a bit, Apple is overhauling FaceTime. You can now create a FaceTime group with 32 people. You can now switch from an iMessage conversation to a video chat without having to open another app. This is long overdue, and Houseparty is not going to be happy. It’ll also work on macOS and on the Apple Watch for the audio part.

How to watch the live stream for today’s Apple WWDC keynote

Apple is holding a keynote today at the San Jose Convention Center, and the company is expected to unveil new updates for iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS and maybe also some new hardware. At 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris), you’ll be able to watch the event as the company is streaming it live.

Apple is likely to talk about some new features for all its software platforms — WWDC is a developer conference after all. Rumor has it that Apple could also unveil some MacBook Pro update with new Intel processors.

If you have the most recent Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old events. Users with old Apple TVs can simply turn on their devices. Apple is pushing out the “Apple Events” channel so that you can watch the event.

And if you don’t have an Apple TV, the company also lets you live-stream the event from the Apple Events section on its website. This video feed works in Safari and Microsoft Edge. And for the first time, Apple says that the video should also work in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

So to recap, here’s how you can watch today’s Apple event:

  • Safari on the Mac or iOS.
  • Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.
  • Maybe Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
  • An Apple TV gen 4 with the Apple Events app in the App Store.
  • An Apple TV gen 2 or 3, with the Apple Events channel that arrives automatically right before the event.

Of course, you also can read TechCrunch’s live blog if you’re stuck at work and really need our entertaining commentary track to help you get through your day. We have a big team in the room this year.

Lendix raises $37 million for its lending marketplace

French startup Lendix has raised a new funding round of $37 million (€32 million). With this new influx of cash, the startup has one goal in mind. It wants to become the leading lending marketplace of Continental Europe.

Idinvest and Allianz are leading the round, with CIR SpA (De Benedetti’s holding firm) also participating. Existing investors Partech, CNP Assurances, Decaux Frères Investissements and Matmut are also participating once again.

As of today, people living in France, Spain and Italy can sign up to lend money to companies established in those three countries. But the startup is already working hard to expand to the Netherlands and Germany before the end of the year. Next year, Lendix plans to operate in 7 countries.

And it seems like it’s becoming easier to launch new markets. There are now quite a few users and institutional investors on the platform. Lendix doesn’t need to attract Dutch users to start lending to Dutch companies. French, Italian and Spanish users are already willing to put some money in Dutch companies. It’s a true European user base because everybody uses the same currency.

With today’s funding round, it’s going to be easier to launch in Germany. “When you want to open in Germany — and that is our current plan — it’s harder to recruit if you don’t have a German brand name behind you,” co-founder and CEO Olivier Goy told me.

That’s why Allianz is going to be more than just a financial backer. For instance, the insurance company is going to promote Lendix to its corporate clients so that they think about Lendix if they need to borrow some money.

It’s another proof that Lendix doesn’t want to be a French company that operates in other countries. The company also has opened an office in Madrid and another one in Milan with local teams.

Lendix is still a drop in the bucket compared to traditional bank loans. But the company wants to differentiate its product offering from regular banks as much as possible.

Right now, when a company requests a loan, the company’s algorithms are going to work on a basic credit scoring. After that, somebody calls the company to ask a few questions. The Lendix team can focus on more specific information.

“We also have developed a tool called Iris,” CTO Benjamin Netter told me. “It is going to become the biggest intelligence database for European companies.”

France is leading the way when it comes to open data. You can now access the registry of commerce, the identification number database and important incorporation events. But it’s a mess if you want to access this data. There are different file formats, and the same database uses different fields depending on the region of France.

Lendix has been parsing all this data to turn it into an actionable database. This way, Lendix can get a clear overview of companies that apply for a loan.

The company doesn’t plan to stop there. You could use Iris to detect some fraud patterns. For instance, a person could keep incorporating new companies and shutting them down quickly.

Eventually, you could reach out to companies before they need to apply for a loan. Netter mentioned a restaurant called Street Bangkok. They’ve opened three restaurants over the past six months. It’s clear that they might need some money at some point to invest in new restaurants. Lendix Iris could spot those patterns.

Lendix is still nowhere near as big as Funding Circle. But the company thinks there’s enough room for multiple players in this space. Both can grow at the same time by competing with traditional banks.

And it starts by being faster than a traditional bank. Companies get a rate within 48 hours. “Our goal is that you should be able to get a rate within half a day,” Goy said. Banks will have a hard time giving you an answer so quickly.

Disclosure: I share a personal connection with an executive at CNP Assurances.