Firebase (YC S11) launches cloud platform that lets you write your whole app client side

It’s a Platform Cloud. But Not Really

That’s what Firebase is: an API, or application programming interface. To access the API, you drop some JavaScript code into your application, and the service does the rest. “We’re a platform as a service, but rather than actually have code that runs on our servers, we’re all client side,” says Lee. “Anything that you as a developer builds, you run in the client browser or in the client iPhone app or whatever they happen to be on.”

That said, if you want to set up your own servers for security reasons or additional processing power, you can do so. Firebase will still handle the data, and your servers can tap into this central repository in much the same way clients do.

The service’s primary aim is to simplify application development. If you move all your code into the clients, Lee says, you can more easily scale to a large number of users. “All these cloud providers claim that if you go into the cloud, you can scale automatically, but that’s only true if you wrote your code to shard across multiple servers, which is extremely difficult to do. Most people just don’t do that,” Lee says. “But if you don’t have to do server-side at all, and you build your application to use this API, we can shard your data for you and scale your application automatically.”

Read full Wired article

Ryan Junee's Kaleidescope (YC W11) launches beautiful curated street-style fashion app

There’s a few things that make Kaleidoscope a standout. For one, its high-quality feed of street-style images. Instead of depending on user-generated content for fashion inspiration, Kaleidoscope displays thumbnails of photographs pulled from lookbook.nu or produced on its own. Between 30 and 50 new images are posted each day. The startup is currently forming partnership with select bloggers to bring their content to Kaleidoscope’s feed as well.

Kaleidoscope also brings quality curation to another key part of its service: product recommendations. The app uses ShopStyle‘s API to locate products that match the clothes in each photograph, and internal staff — i.e., the startup’s interns — filter through the options to offer users the best fit.

We also like the app’s integration with third-party networks. It’s easy to share looks straight to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Full article on Mashable

Meetings.io (YC W11) launches dead simple web videoconferencing done right, 15k users in 8 hours

Meetings.io is the latest step in the evolution of videoconferencing services, a classic example of enterprise-focused social networking, which have always held much potential but also frustrations. Starting out as services only for the biggest enterprises that could afford expensive equipment and software, eventually videoconferencing offerings trickled down to Internet-based, mass-market products for anyone (business or consumer) to use with a connected PC or mobile device equipped with a microphone and camera.

But even so, they came with a catch: with Skype, GoTo Meetings and WebEx, you need to download software, and pay fees (as you do with Skype to enable more than a one-to-one conversation); with Google, you need to join its social network to use Hangouts. “But you may not want to do that for someone who may be only a short-term contact,” says co-founder Arend Naylor (via a Meetings.io link).

And that’s before any and all technical glitches.

These are all barriers that Meetings.io is attacking with a very simple, peer-to-peer service aimed not at early adopters and those more technically-minded, but those who need to make a group call for work and without the painful process of setting that up. The aim: “Something lightweight that works without software,” says Naylor. The result: to initiate a call, a registered user simply sends out a link, or invites people to visit a meeting room.

Read more at Techcrunch

Dealupa (YC W12) launches a pagerank for daily deals and solves deal fatigue

If you were to stop for a moment and consider what your perfect deals site would be, chances are it doesn’t look a whole lot like any of the big names currently operating in the space. When it comes down to it, we all have our own individual preferences when it comes to products, activities, and experiences. So, the lowest common denominator would be a platform that routinely serves us great deals on the things we actually enjoy. As simple as that may sound, there are few deals players that do it well. Dealupa, a startup that’s part of Y Combinator’s current winter batch, is launching today with what it hopes is a solution to deal disappointment, aka deal fatigue.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Flutter (YC W12) brings the power of Kinect gestures to 5 BILLION webcams

Say you’re sitting at your laptop, listening to music while responding to emails, writing code, or reading blogs. Then your phone rings, and the typical scramble ensues: You minimize your browser, maximize your music app, and search frantically for the pause button or volume control — all, hopefully, before you miss the call. Sound familiar? That’s a problem that Flutter, a startup in Y Combinator’s latest batch of companies, has solved.

Flutter is an app for Mac that lets you control the play function on Spotify or iTunes by simply waving at your computer. You can watch it in action in the video embedded above. That in itself is pretty nifty — as evidenced by the 11,000 people who downloaded Flutter in the first 11 days it was available, and the 400,000 gestures the app logged from those users. In the near-term, Flutter expects to expand its functionality to control other media apps such as Pandora and YouTube, as well as to other operating systems and devices beyond the Mac.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

99Dresses (YC W12) is giving women an infinite closet

To participate on 99dresses, users upload a dress that they may be tired of, but that somebody else might appreciate. Unlike other clothing swap services Poshmark and Threadflip, 99dresses is aiming for the Forever 21 and Zara set, not necessarily the well-heeled worshippers of Lanvin, Balenciaga and Prada.

Also unlike its competitors, 99dresses doesn’t use any actual currency, so women who upload dresses must sell them for “buttons.” In turn they can use these buttons to buy other dresses (sortable by size), and can also buy extra buttons for a dollar each if they’re short a needed amount. The company currently monetizes by selling these buttons.

Read more on Techcrunch

FamilyLeaf (YC W12) is bringing your kin together in a private social network for families

Facebook is on its way to having a billion members, but it’s not always making friends everywhere it goes. Two young men, both aged 19 and in the most recent crop of Y Combinator startups, think they’ve found a gap in the market that has yet to be served that well by the biggest social network: families.

FamilyLeaf was created by childhood friends Wesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta (last seen here spinning out a Y U NO yarn to gain entry into YC; it worked). And it was borne out of a desire to have an easy-to-use online space for you and your relations that address some key “misuse” of sites like Facebook — something they say became especially apparent to the two of them after they left for college (respectively Wharton and NYU Stern, where they are now on a leave of absence).

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Leaky (YC S11) is back to help you find the best possible car insurance for you

Last August, Y Combinator-backed Leaky had one of those “good news, bad news” startup launches. The good news — the launch got plenty of attention, and (thanks in part to some coverage from TechCrunch), the site attracted 10 times as much traffic as expected, according to co-founder Jason Traff. The bad news — that attracted the attention of the insurance companies, who sent Leaky cease-and-desist letters.

The problem? In order to compare the insurance prices you’d pay with different providers, Leaky was scraping the data directly from the insurance companies’ websites. It sounds like Traff wasn’t entirely surprised by the letters (“We understood their objections and complied with them,” he says now), but he thought Leaky would have more time to fly under-the-radar while it figured out the best way to get its data. However, the high-profile launch made that impossible, and the site went offline after four days.

Now Leaky is back, and it’s offering price comparisons based on a new data source — the regulatory filings that car insurance companies have to file with the government. Using those filings, the company has created a model that predicts, based on your personal details, how much each insurance provider will charge.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Ark (YC W12) launches people search done right

Google and Facebook can’t help you find which of your friends are single, or live in New York and like Radiohead, but Ark can. Today Y Combinator-backed Ark.com sails into private beta in hopes of becoming the best place on the web to do people searches. With a variety of layer-able filters, Ark lets you search through public profiles and the private data of your friends across Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and other networks. It’s also got filter sets for easily discovering old classmates and new business contacts.

Read the full story on Techcrunch