Microsoft’s new expense tracker Spend hits the App Store

The team behind mileage-tracking app MileIQ, a company Microsoft acquired a few years ago, is out with a new application. This time, the focus isn’t on tracking miles, but rather expenses. The new app, simply called “Spend,” arrived on the App Store on Thursday, offering automatic expense tracking for work reimbursement purposes or for taxes.

Spend doesn’t appear to be a part of some grand Microsoft plan to take on expense tracking industry giants, like Expensify or SAP-owned Concur, for example. At least, not at this time. Instead, the app is a Microsoft Garage project, the App Store clarifies. Microsoft Garage is the company’s internal incubator when employees can test out new ideas to see if they resonate with consumers and business users. Through the program, a number of interesting projects have gotten their start over the years, like the Cortana-based dictation tool, Dictate; mobile
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PayPal and American Express expand partnership, will allow use of points for PayPal purchases

PayPal this week announced an expanded relationship with American Express that will allow cardholders to use their Membership Rewards points when shopping from PayPal merchants, as well as more integrated experience within both PayPal and the Amex apps, among other things.

The deal is similar to those PayPal earlier struck with Visa and MasterCard., and follows a series of partnerships it has made across the industry, including others with Apple, Google, Samsung, and, most recently, Walmart, designed to increase its PayPal’s visibility and adoption. In addition to using points for purchases at PayPal’s millions of online merchants, the new partnership will also allow Amex mobile app users to send money through PayPal or Venmo directly in the app. And they’ll be able to add their American Express cards to their PayPal wallet directly from the app, too. On PayPal’s side, users will be able to
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Google Maps’ ETA sharing feature hits iOS

If you’re heading out to meet someone, there are plenty of ways to inform them of your location and estimated arrival. Chat apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, LINE, and iMessage, for example, offer location sharing functionality, while navigation apps like Waze and CityMapper and even ride-sharing apps like Uber offer live updating ETAs. Now, Google Maps’ own ETA feature is at last coming to iOS. The feature also getting a few tweaks following last year’s launch on Android, the company says.

In May 2017, Google Maps first introduced its own take on location and ETA sharing. From a “Share Location” option in the app’s main navigation bar, you’re able to pick how long you want to share your location and choose who to share it with – the latter from a set of frequent contacts or by entering in someone’s name, number or email to pull from your address book. Then,
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Alexa’s new Whisper Mode goes live

At Amazon’s Alexa event last month in Seattle, the company teased a new feature soon coming to its voice assistant: the ability to whisper. The company demonstrated how whispering a request – like “play a lullaby” – to Alexa would trigger the voice assistant to respond in kind. Today, Amazon says Whisper Mode is officially going live.

The feature is now rolling out to users in the U.S., the company tells us, and works in U.S. English. It’s particularly useful around bedtime or nighttime scenarios, where you’re trying to keep the room quiet. And, of course, it’s especially helpful for parents, who don’t want to wake a sleeping child to command Alexa, or who are trying to set a more peaceful “bedtime,” “nap time,” or just generally “quiet time” tone to their interactions. Whisper Mode is one of several features Amazon has been working on to make
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YouTube partners with Eventbrite to sell concert tickets on music videos

YouTube is extending its ticketing initiative, already live with Ticketmaster, with the new addition of Eventbrite. The partnership, which was announced this morning, will see Eventbrite listings for live music performances across the U.S. when watching YouTube Official Artist Channels. Beneath these videos will be show listings and a “Tickets” button which users can click to make purchases, across both YouTube on the desktop and in the YouTube app.

The video streaming site had first entered into the ticketing business late last year with a dealt to sell concert tickets on YouTube video pages, powered by Ticketmaster listings. The launch had arrived at a time when Spotify and Apple Music were running away with the streaming music business in the U.S., while YouTube was still getting its own music competitor, YouTube Music, off the ground. However, the video site on its own has a massive reach beyond
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Spotify’s Premium app gets a big makeover

Spotify has given its app a big makeover, with a focus on making the experience better for its paying subscribers. The company has simplified the app’s navigation by reducing the numbers of buttons and has revamped its Search page, which now incorporates elements previously found in “Browse,” like favorite genres or music to match a mood. And it’s given its Radio service a redesign as well, with the addition of new and easy-to-use Artist Radio Playlists.

The most immediately noticeable change is the app’s navigation. Spotify has always felt a bit cluttered, with its five navigation buttons – Home, Browse, Search, Radio and My Library. The new app has chopped this down to just three buttons – Home, Search, and My Library. Recommendations will appear on the Home page, following the update, while discovery is powered by Search. The Search page lets you seek out artists, albums and podcasts
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Sam’s Club to offer same-day grocery delivery via Instacart at over half its stores by month end

Fresh off its $600 million round of new funding, grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding its relationship with Walmart, the companies announced this morning. The two first joined up in February to offer same-day grocery delivery at select Sam’s Clubs locations in the U.S. Today, Walmart says it plans to offer Instacart-powered grocery delivery in over half of Sam’s Clubs stores by the end of this month.

That expansion will make Sam’s Club grocery delivery via Instacart available to nearly 1,000 new ZIP codes and more than 100 new stores, including those in markets like New Jersey, Indianapolis, Houston and others, the company says. In total, customers will be able to order from nearly 350 clubs by the end of October. The partnership was first piloted in Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and St. Louis, then reached San Diego and L.A. in more recent weeks. The deal also allows consumers to shop
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Twitter makes it easier to see enforcement taken on reported tweets

Twitter is making a change to how its tweet reporting procedures will work. Before, Twitter had experimented with both showing or hiding the tweet you reported, but users told the company they sometimes needed to refer back to the tweet – like when they’re trying to report it to law enforcement, for example. Now, Twitter says it will hide the tweet behind an informational notice, but allow you to tap the notice to view the tweet again.

In addition, the company is also making it more transparent to users whether a deleted tweet was deleted by the user or because Twitter took an action. If the latter, these same informational notices will display. Going forward, Twitter says that once it has determined that a tweet should be deleted, it will display a notice that states the tweet is unavailable because it violated the Twitter Rules. This will also include a
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Spotify takes a stake in DistroKid, will support cross-platform music uploads in Spotify for Artists

Spotify has taken a minority stake in music distribution service, DistroKid, a popular tool used by artists for uploading their music across platforms. The company didn’t confirm the size of its stake, only saying that it made a “passive minority investment.” As a result of the deal, Spotify will also upgrade its Spotify for Artists service to include an integration with DistroKid that allows artists to simultaneously upload content to other platforms.

“For the past five years, DistroKid has served as a go-to service for hundreds of thousands independent artists, helping them deliver their tracks to digital music services around the world, and reaching fans however they choose to consume music,” the company announced in a blog post about the deal. Spotify was already a partner with DistroKid ahead of this news. However, DistroKid’s service currently allows musicians an easy way to get their tunes to Spotify competitors,
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Hulu adds a dark mode on the web

Rejoice, dark mode fans. Hulu is joining YouTube and YouTube TV as the streaming video service to embrace a dark theme – something that gives video sites a more cinematic look and feel (as Netflix already knows). The company says it will begin to roll out its new “Night Mode” starting today to all users of Hulu on the web.

The theme, which can be enabled in the settings, can also help reduce eye strain and glare in low light, Hulu notes. That’s useful for those who are watching on laptops, while curled up on the sofa or bed – as many web users are today. While Hulu has timed the launch to coincide with its offering of creepy “Huluween” content, it says the feature is a permanent addition. However, it wouldn’t yet confirm if the dark mode will expand to other Hulu platforms. Instead, the company says it will
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Hulu’s Live TV service may add ‘skinnier’ bundles of news, sports and entertainment programming

Hulu is planning to change up its live TV service by dropping channels from its core offering to instead create smaller “bundles” of sports, news, and entertainment programming, according to an interview with Hulu CEO Randy Freer in The Information. The changes, which would make Hulu more of a direct competitor to skinny bundle providers like Dish’s Sling TV, could help to reduce costs for consumers and Hulu alike, and free up funds for increased investments in original programming.

The company today offers a $40 per month bundle of over 50 channels, but is considering breaking that up into separate packages, Freer said. For example: a sports bundle, news bundle or an entertainment bundle with premium channels like HBO, Starz and Showtime. In addition to plans to increase its original content spend, in the wake of successes like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Castle Rock,” Hulu also said it wants to
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Roku to resume sales in Mexico, following court ruling

Last year, Roku lost a legal battle in Mexico over piracy which resulted in a ban on sales of its devices in the country. Now, that ban has been lifted, the company says, following a favorable ruling from the 11th Collegiate Court in Mexico City. This will allow Roku to resume sales of its devices in Mexico in the coming weeks.

The issue first arose when Cablevision, the cable TV operator owned by Mexican media giant Televisa, took Roku to court alleging that Roku devices were being hacked to allow users to watch pirated channels. The problem was that Roku’s platform – unlike, say, the more locked-down Apple TV – supports something called “private channels.” This feature was originally intended as a way for developers to test their channels before making them publicly available on Roku’s Channel Store. But many began to use private channels to stream illegal content, like cable
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Periscope broadcasters can now assign their own chat moderators

It’s going to be harder for trolls to disrupt Periscope broadcasts. The Twitter-owned live streaming app has offered chat moderation capabilities for years, but it has so far relied on group moderation. That means when users flagged a comment as abuse, spam or harassment, Periscope would randomly select a few other viewers to take a look and decide if that’s true. Violators would be banned if the users agreed. That worked well in some cases, but it still put control in the hands of the crowd, not the live streamer. Now, Periscope is changing that.

Instead of relying solely on group moderation, the company says broadcasters will instead be allowed to assign chat moderators before they start streaming. These moderators can then watch the chat during the live broadcast and actively mute commenters in the audience who are disruptive. After being muted, the person will not be allowed to
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No, your Twitter was not hacked

Twitter users on iOS were hit with a strange bug today. Instead of receiving notifications that included the tweet itself, they received a string of alphanumeric characters. The issue only affected iOS users, we confirmed with the company, and has since been resolved.

Twitter was quick to address the problem, following complaints from Twitter users about the weird notifications. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted at 12:42 PM ET today that Twitter was aware of the issue and was working on a fix.

Minutes later, he tweeted again that the issue was resolved.

We asked Twitter for more details on what went wrong, as a lot of people were wondering why their phones’ notification screen looked like this. Some
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Macaw will curate Twitter for you, help expand your network

Twitter today inserts activity-based tweets into your timeline, alerting you to things like the popular tweets liked by people you follow, or those Twitter accounts that a lot of people in your network have just started to follow. These alerts can be useful, but their timing is sporadic and they can be easily missed. Plus, if you turn off Twitter’s algorithmic timeline (as may be possible for some), you’ll lose access to this sort of info. A new Twitter app called Macaw aims to help.

Macaw, which recently launched on Product Hunt, offers a set of similar information as Twitter does, with a few changes. Macaw works by first pulling in a list of people you follow. It then tracks what tweets they like throughout the day and turns that into a feed of tweets that were most popular. Macaw does the same thing for users, too –
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Walmart’s Vudu may add subscription video channels to its streaming service

Walmart appears to have big plans for its video streaming service, Vudu . On the heels of a partnership with MGM for original content, new reports claim the retailer is now in discussions with various video services, in the hopes of making them accessible through Vudu itself. That move would make Vudu more like Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, an offering that allows customers to pick and choose which streaming service subscriptions they want to access through Prime Video.

The news was first reported by AdAge and Bloomberg, with both reporting that the types of services that could arrive on Vudu as add-on subscriptions include HBO NOW, Showtime and Starz. The talks are still in the very early stages, the reports claim. If Walmart chooses to go this route with Vudu, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get these deals done. As more consumers cut the cord with traditional pay TV,
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Hinge is first dating app to actually measure real world success

Dating app Hinge is today launching a new feature aimed at improving its recommendations, based on whether or not matches had successful real-world dates. The feature may also help to address one of the major problems with today’s dating apps: that no one knows how well they actually work. After all, it’s one thing to get matches and have conversations, but it’s quite another to turn those into dates, much less a long-term relationship.

With a new feature called “We Met,” Hinge will ask users a few days after they shared their phone numbers if they went on a date, and, if so, if they’d want to see that person again. This data will be used as a signal to inform Hinge’s algorithms and improve matches, if the user later returns to the app. During beta trials, Hinge says that 90% of members said their first dates were great, and
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Sneaky subscriptions are plaguing the App Store

Subscriptions have turned into a booming business for app developers, accounting for $10.6 billion in consumer spend on the App Store in 2017, and poised to grow to $75.7 billion by 2022. But alongside this healthy growth, a number of scammers are now taking advantage of subscriptions in order to trick users into signing up for expensive and recurring plans. They do this by intentionally confusing users with their app’s design and flow, by making promises of “free trials” that convert after only a matter of days, and other misleading tactics.

Apple will soon have an influx of consumer complaints on its hands if it doesn’t reign in these scammers more quickly. However, the company’s focus as of late has been more so on getting developers to give subscriptions a try — even holding “secret” meetings where it evangelizes the business model that’s earning developers (and therefore Apple
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Nurse-1-1 lets you text a nurse for health info, learn if a doctor is needed

A new startup wants to help you figure out if your medical issue requires a visit to a doctor’s office, the ER, or can be handled over a telemedicine service, while also providing you with some basic information about the problem and its severity. Nurse-1-1, the latest company from former RunKeeper co-founder Michael Sheeley, is launching today to offer a quick, affordable way to get answers from physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses via chat.

Sheeley, a serial entrepreneur, sold his shopping app Kickscout to Mobee in 2014, and later worked on a food ordering service before starting Nurse-1-1 around two years ago. The idea for the startup emerged from an experience he had after the birth of his daughter. “My daughter was born with a congenital heart defect,” Sheeley explains – a health crisis that involved her having open heart surgery, he tells us. “I was sitting next
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Amazon debuts a retail site for ‘Shark Tank’ products

Inventor Jamie Siminoff was rejected by the sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2013 when trying to make a deal for his video doorbell startup. This year, Amazon bought his company, Ring, for a billion dollars. Now, Amazon is looking for another way to tap into breakout products from the popular TV show – by becoming an official retailer partner for “Shark Tank.” The newly announced deal allows Amazon to showcase past and future “Shark Tank” products on its website, and come with a $15,000 Amazon Web Services (AWS) credit for each eligible “Shark Tank” entrepreneur.

The products will be available in a new Shark Tank Collection on Amazon Launchpad, its platform for hardware and physical goods startups, which first arrived in 2015. The idea is to offer a dedicated place on Amazon where consumers can shop products from up-and-coming companies, like Bluesmart’s luggage, eero’s Home Wi-Fi system, Casper
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