Starbucks' Schultz still not running for president, launches series on Amazon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Starbucks Corp Chairman Howard Schultz on Tuesday will debut the second season of the coffee chain’s inspirational video series “Upstanders” on Amazon Prime, and the outspoken executive said he would not run for president, despite persistent speculation.

“I have no plans to run for office. I am very consistent on that,” said Schultz, who in April fueled talk he was preparing for a presidential run by resigning as Starbucks’ chief executive. Despite his repeated denials, the New York Times recently included Schultz in an opinion piece titled “Who Can Beat Trump in 2020?”

Schultz, a Democrat who has taken national stands on immigration, gun control and other controversial topics, said “Upstanders” was part of an effort to redefine the roles and responsibilities of public companies in U.S. society.

“One of those roles and responsibilities is to remind and reinforce the values of the country, and what better way to do that than to allow the American people to tell their story,” Schultz said in a phone interview on Monday.

The new season of “Upstanders” chronicles the journeys of everyday people who, among other things, have successfully reached across ideological divides to find consensus on divisive issues such as refugee resettlement, climate change to needle-exchange programs. Upstanders launched last year on the Starbucks app, which has 19 million active users, and the chain’s in-store wireless network.

In addition to Amazon.com’s Prime video streaming service, Upstanders Season 2 will be available on Facebook’s new Watch video platform, on Starbucks’ website at starbucks.com/upstanders and as a free audio book on Amazon’s Audible.com.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Starbucks’ executive producer on the project, said the mission behind “Upstanders” is simple.

”If these stories can lead people in other communities to say, ‘Hey, I can do that too,“ that will be mission accomplished for us,” Chandrasekaran, a former editor at the Washington Post, said during the interview.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Microsoft launches meeting app Invite for iPhone, coming soon to Android and Windows Phone

One of the meeting rooms at Communitech, a startup mecca in Waterloo, Ontario. Google also has 200 employees here.

Microsoft today launched a new standalone app for scheduling meetings called Invite. Available only for iPhone users in the U.S. and Canada for now, you can download Invite now directly from Apple’s App Store.

Here is how it works. First you suggest times that work for you, and then invite attendees to vote. You can send invites to anyone with an email address — even if they are outside your organization. The recipients select all the times they can attend from the app itself or from a browser, once votes are in, you pick the time that works best.

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The best part is that anyone invited can see what options work best for other attendees, and suggest their own times as well. The sender chooses a final date and time whenever they’re ready, hitting Send Calendar Invites to get it on everyone’s calendars.

Here is how Microsoft explains its thinking behind the app:

Invite is designed to overcome the biggest obstacle when scheduling meetings — not being able to see the calendars of attendees outside your organization. As a result, your proposed meeting can be repeatedly declined until you find a time that works.

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Certain events and meetings can be moved if something more important comes up, but only each person knows best where they are flexible. By letting attendees pick times that work for them, even when it means moving one of their own meetings, can stop that meeting from being scheduled on a Friday evening.

Invite is mainly designed for users with Office 365 business and school accounts. That said, the app also works with any email account, including Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.

The app’s launch and limitations are very similar to Microsoft’s Send, a lightweight email app that debuted in July. Like Send, Invite is starting out as iPhone-only, available only in two countries, and with the promise of “coming soon” to Android and Windows Phone.

Invite is the latest in a long line of apps to emerge from Microsoft Garage, the software giant’s lab for experimental tinkering. At this rate, Microsoft will soon have more experimental apps than “final” apps.

And that’s okay, as long as some of them are eventually released or integrated into existing products.

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Samsung Gear VR launches before December for $99

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We already knew Samsung’s final Gear VR was coming in 2015. Now we have a price and a better sense of the release timing.

The mobile-based virtual reality headset will launch in North America “in time for Black Friday” and worldwide “shortly after,” as Samsung SVP of Technology Strategy Peter Koo revealed when he took the stage at the Oculus Connect keynote on Thursday. It’ll sell for $ 99.

The final build of the Gear VR is 22% lighter than the “Innovator Edition” that first launched in Dec. 2014. It’s also got a revised design that does away with the top head strap and a smarter design for the side-mounted touchpad, with an directional pad-shaped indentation that should make blindly operating the controls more convenient. Read more…

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Google launches its Keep note-taking app for iOS

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Google today launched Google Keep for iOS. You can download the new app now directly from Apple’s App Store.

We’re a bit surprised it took Google this long to debut an iOS app for its note-taking service. Google Keep first launched way back in March 2013 for Android and the Web, meaning the iOS version is showing up 30 months later. Google even brought Google Keep to Android Wear, its smartwatch platform, in June 2014.

Nonetheless, Google says the features Google Keep users have come to expect on Android and the Web are now available to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. That means iOS users can search and filter notes by color and type (images, audio, and text), add labels, set time or location-based reminders, and share notes for basic real-time collaboration.

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Here is the full feature list, from the iTunes description:

  • Capture, edit, share, and collaborate on your notes on any device, anywhere.
  • Add notes, lists, photos, and audio to Keep.
  • Organize your notes with labels and colors.
  • Set and forget. Get reminded about a note at the right time or place.
  • Record a voice memo and have it automatically transcribed.
  • Grab the text from an image to help you quickly find that note again through search.

This release isn’t going to convert Evernote or OneNote users, as both have iOS apps with plenty of features. If, however, you’re already using Google Keep on another one of your devices, being able to access your notes on your Apple gadget is a welcome addition. If you’re a Windows Phone user, we wouldn’t hold our breath until Google shows some interest in Windows 10.

While it appears this is a full-featured release, we have asked Google if there is anything missing from the iOS app that is currently available on Android and the Web. We will update you if we learn anything new.

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