SXSW startup quick look: What these four young companies are doing and where they’re going

Welcome to AustinAs you might imagine, more than a few app companies make their way to SXSW Interactive Week. It’s difficult to cut through the noise to find which startups are actually doing something that deserves mention. For every 10 apps that call themselves the “Instagram for dogs” or the “Airbnb for senior citizens,” there are one or two that are developing new technology and offering innovative ideas that could transform the mobile app scene. Here are a few standouts and details on their future plans. 

Forecast

forecastThe Foursquare-based app continues to work on futurifying the check-in. Concerning the ambient social-location apps flooding this year’s SXSW, creator Rene Pinnell explains why everyone’s still so skeptical. “The beef about most present tense stuff is that it doesn’t create introductions,” he says. “Highlight is really interesting,” he tells me. “But it doesn’t solve a specific problem.”

“What big, hairy messes is Forecast solving is what we’re always thinking about.”

Pinnell says that Forecast will continue to focus on the future tense of the location platform and is evolving right along with its audience – an audience that he tells me uses Foursquare and likes checking-in. A few new features are in the mix, including an option to enable auto check-ins. That’s a pretty significant similarity with the ambient apps that run in the background, but there are a handful of differences. The feature is opt-in and automatically checks you in to a place according to the Forecast you made. You’ll then get a notification saying you’ve been checked-in.

Forecast also wants to tackle the “mess” that is calendaring. “Eventbrite, Facebook events, Google calendar – all this scheduling is trapped in these isolated silos,” says Pinell. Deep integration with major calendaring apps will suck this data into Forecast to create a fuller look at what you’ve been invited to do and what you want to do, which you can then create Forecasts for.

In the next year, we can expect an update that is best put in Pinnell’s own worse: “When you Forecast, awesome shit will happen.” He eluded to some of this when we last talked to him, and it’s basically a recommendation and rewards system being implemented into the application. For example: if you’ve Forecasted you’re going to a bar for happy hour, a local karaoke bar might pop up in recommendations along with a half off coupon.

Features

Will high-res radar make tomorrow’s cars safer?

Modern cars have sensors designed to make driving safer. The problem? They don’t work well. A combination of radar, lidar, and cameras is a solution, but we aren’t there yet.
Mobile

The best weather apps for Android will keep you dry no matter where you go

You may not be able to change the weather, but you can at least be prepared for it. Check out our guide to the best weather apps for Android, so you'll always know what to expect when you step out the front door.
Mobile

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.
Smart Home

OK, Google, what can you do? Tips and tricks for the Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Smart Home

Amazon ups its smart home game with a new Echo Show, microwave, and clock

Amazon revealed a whole bunch of new smart home products at its annual hardware event in Seattle this week including a redesigned Echo Show, a smart microwave, a new security platform, and more.
Smart Home

Amazon gives the Ring Stick Up Camera a 1080 HD upgrade

Amazon revealed an update to the Ring Stick Up Camera that includes a new body design and an improved, 1080 HD camera to livestream any action that crosses in front of the lens. The new model comes in wired and battery-powered versions.
Product Review

With the thump of an Echo Sub, Alexa goes from an assistant to a DJ

Amazon’s Echo Sub can pair with an Echo to provide the room-filling bass that little speakers just can’t muster on their own. And at $130, all that bass won’t break the bank, either.
Smart Home

Here’s how to pre-order everything Amazon announced this week

Amazon announced new devices available in its Echo, Fire TV, and AmazonBasics lineups. Most of the devices aren't available quite yet but if you head over to Amazon, you can pre-order them.
Smart Home

Forget smart locks: Locky makes your keys smarter

Instead of an expensive and complicated smart lock, consider making your conventional key smarter instead using Locky, a Bluetooth-equipped key case that communicates key location, use, and door lock status via a smartphone app.
Product Review

Invisible until you need it, SimpliSafe is a no-hassle way to watch your home

These days, there a lot of do-it-yourself home security systems out there. How do you choose? Simplisafe’s latest offering brings together beautiful hardware and the ability to customize your home security package. We do wish that we…
Smart Home

It cooks! It blends! Instant Pot strikes again with a blender that can cook

From the creators of the popular Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker comes the Instant Pot Ace blender, which can both cook and pulverize food. It turns soups, purees and the like into one-pitcher operations.
Smart Home

New to Instant Pot? A no-pressure guide to using the popular pressure cooker

The versatility of the Instant Pot makes it a great kitchen companion, but it also makes the multicooker a little intimidating if you're a newbie. Here are some tips on how to use the magical device.
Smart Home

Rise and shine with the best alarm clocks to kick-start your day

People are finicky about their sleeping habits, but, fortunately, the best alarm clocks can probably match your lifestyle and budget. Here are some of our current favorites, including the Amazon Echo Spot.
Smart Home

Amazon’s partnership with SideChef makes Alexa your sous chef

Amazon and SideChef are cooking up a new interactive kitchen experience as Amazon integrates SideChef's recipes into its new Echo devices, enabling users to access recipes, photos, and video demos.
1 of 4