Snapchat will shut down Snapcash, forfeiting to Venmo

Snapcash ended up as a way to pay adult performers for private content over Snapchat, not just a way to split bills with friends. But Snapchat will abandon the peer-to-peer payment space on August 30th. Code buried in Snapchat’s Android app includes a “Snapcash deprecation message” that displays “Snapcash will no longer be available after %s [date]”. Shutting down the feature will bring an end to Snapchat’s four-year partnership with Square to power the feature for sending people money. Snapcash may have become more of a liability than a utility. With apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, and Square Cash itself, there were plenty of other ways to pay back friends for drinks or Ubers, so Snapcash may have seen low legitimate usage. Meanwhile, a quick Twitter search for “Snapcash” surfaced plenty of offers of erotic content in exchange for payments through the feature. It may have been safer for Snapchat
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Weekly Roundup: July 21

Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin, performed its most critical test to date, Prime Day had some ups and downs but ultimately broke records and major tech companies are uniting to help you move data across apps. Here’s your weekly roundup of the top stories from the tech world:  1. Blue Origin successfully lands both booster and crew capsule after test launch Blue Origin crossed a major milestone on Wednesday as it successfully executed a live separation test. This sent the rocket’s crew capsule higher than it’s ever gone before, while the rocket’s booster coasted back down to earth unscathed. The critical achievement marks a big win for Jeff Bezos’ company and the prospect of commercial space flights. 2. What Amazon lost (and made) on Prime Day  Widespread glitches on Amazon’s site during the first two hours of Prime Day are estimated to have cost the e-commerce giant $1.2
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With its goofy video loops, YC backed Splish wants to be the ‘anti-Instagram’

Is there any space on kids’ homescreens for another social sharing app to poke in? Y Combinator backed Splish wants to have a splash at it (😊) — with a super-short-form video and photo sharing app aimed at the under-25s. The SF-based startup began bootstrapping out of their college dorm rooms last July, playing around with app ideas before settling on goofy video loops to be their social sharing steed of choice. The Splish app pops content into video loops of between 1-5 seconds. Photos can be uploaded too but motion must be added in the form of an animated effect of your choice. So basically nothing on Splish stays still. (Hence its watery name.) But while wobbly, content on Splish is intended to stick around — rather than ephemerally pass away (a la snaps). Here are a few examples of Splishes (embedded below as GIFs… but you can
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Wilson is like Longreads for podcasts

Meet Wilson, a new iPhone app that plans to change the way you discover and listen to podcasts. The company describes the app as a podcast magazine. It has the same vibe as Longreads, the curated selection of longform articles. With its minimalistic design and opinionated typography, Wilson looks like no other podcasting app. On an iPhone X, the black background looks perfectly black thanks to the OLED display. It feels like an intimate experience. Every week, the team selects a handful of podcast episodes all tied together by the same topic. Those topics can be the Supreme Court, the LGBTQ community, loneliness, dads, the World Cup… Each issue has a cover art and a short description. And the team also tells you why each specific podcast episode is interesting. In other words, Wilson isn’t just an audio experience. You can listen to episodes in the app or
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The World Cup led to a record-breaking number of app downloads and consumer spend in Q2

The second quarter of 2018 was another record-breaker for mobile app downloads and revenue. According to a new report this week from App Annie, there were over 28.4 billion app downloads worldwide across both iOS and Google Play in the quarter, up 15 percent year-over-year. That number is even more remarkable because it doesn’t include reinstalls or updates – only new app downloads. In addition, consumer spending in apps was up 20 percent year-over-year to reach $18.5 billion across iOS and Google Play combined. This is the most money spent in apps compared with any other quarter before, the report notes, topping the prior quarter’s record-breaking $18.4 billion in app revenue, and 27.5 billion downloads. Much of the download activity in Q2 came from Google Play. On its app marketplace alone, global downloads topped 20 billion, up 20 percent year-over-year and widening the gap between itself
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Facebook, Google and more unite to let you transfer data between apps

The Data Transfer Project is a new team-up between tech giants to let you move your content, contacts, and more across apps. Founded by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the DTP today revealed its plans for an open source data portability platform any online service can join. While many companies already let you download your information, that’s not very helpful if you can’t easily upload and use it elsewhere — whether you want to evacuate a social network you hate, back up your data somewhere different, or bring your digital identity along when you try a new app. The DTP’s tool isn’t ready for use yet, but the group today laid out a white paper for how it will work. Creating an industry standard for data portability could force companies to compete on utility instead of being protected by data lock-in that traps users because it’s tough to switch services.
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WhatsApp limits message forwarding in bid to reduce spam and misinformation

In a bid to cut down on the spread of false information and spam, WhatsApp recently added labels that indicate when a message has been forwarded. Now the company is sharpening that strategy by imposing limits on how many groups a message can be sent on to. Originally, users could forward messages on to multiple groups, but a new trial will see that forwarding limited to 20 groups worldwide. In India, however, which is WhatsApp’s largest market with 200 million users, the limit will be just five. In addition, a ‘quick forward’ option that allowed users to pass on images and videos to others rapidly is being removed from India. “We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” the company said in a blog post. The changes are designed to help
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Amazon’s new AR Part Finder helps you shop for those odd nuts and bolts

Got an odd screw, nut, bolt, washer or fastener you need to buy more of, but have no idea to how to find the right one? Amazon’s AR “Part Finder” can help. The company has rolled out a new feature on mobile that lets you point your camera at the item in question, so Amazon can scan it, measure it, then direct you to matching items from its product catalog. The company didn’t announce the feature’s launch, but confirmed to us it was rolled out to all users a couple of weeks ago. The feature takes advantage of the iPhone’s camera and its augmented reality capabilities to measure the object in question – a process it walks you through when you first launch “Part Finder” by tapping the Camera button next to the search box in the Amazon app. This is the area where Amazon has added a number of
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Facebook and Instagram change to crack down on underage children

Facebook and Instagram will more proactively lock the accounts of users its moderators suspect are below the age of 13. Its former policy was to only investigate accounts if they were reported specifically for being potentially underage. But Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that an ‘operational’ change to its policy for reviewers made this week will see them lock the accounts of any underage user they come across, even if they were reported for something else, such as objectionable content, or are otherwise discovered by reviewers. Facebook will require the users to provide proof that they’re over 13 such a government issued photo ID to regain access. The problem stems from Facebook not requiring any proof of age upon signup.

Facebook Messenger Kids is purposefully aimed at users under age 13

A tougher stance here could reduce Facebook and Instagram’s user counts and advertising revenue. The apps’ formerly more hands-off approach
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Ofo shuts down many international markets to focus on profitability

Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo is entering a new phase. After a period of aggressive growth, the company is looking back at its international markets and focusing on the most promising ones. A couple of weeks ago, the company issued a press release highlighting some of the priorities outside of China. As part of this move, Ofo co-founder and CEO Dai Wei is going to be directly in charge of international markets. “It’s a new strategical phase on the international front,” Ofo France General Manager and Head of EMEA Laurent Kennel told me. “The company wants to focus on the most mature and promising markets.” So it means that Ofo will stop altogether in some countries, such as Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, India and Israel. At the same time, there are some markets that work quite well. In particular, the press release highlights Singapore, the U.S., the
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Even raises $40M to transform the working class to the savings class

The working class of the United States doesn’t get many breaks these days. It’s not just a function of low pay and long hours, but also the incredible uncertainty of income and expenses that makes surviving week-to-week so challenging. One in five Americans have a negative net wealth, even in an economy where the unemployment rate is the lowest in almost two decades. Banks, meanwhile, are actively dissuading the working class from banking with them, creating a permanent class of unbanked and underbanked citizens. For Jon Schlossberg, CEO and co-founder of Even.com, improving the plight of ordinary Americans and their finances is a deeply personal and professional mission. And now that mission has a huge new bucket of capital behind it, with Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures leading a $40 million Series B round into the Oakland-based startup. Rabois is a return investor, having previously backed
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Messenger Kids launches in Mexico

Messenger Kids, Facebook’s parent-controlled messaging app that lets kids text, call, video chat, and use face filters, has now arrived in Mexico. The launch follows Messenger Kids’ recent expansion outside the U.S., where in June it first became available to users in Canada and Peru. The app in Mexico works the same as it does elsewhere – parents have to approve all the contacts the child is allowed to talk to – whether that’s family members the child knows, like grandma and grandpa, or the child’s friends. Facebook has consulted with paid advisor Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and others on the development of Messenger Kids’ features focused on principles of social and emotional learning. For example, it recently introduced a section of guidelines that remind kids to “be kind” and “be respectful” and rolled out “kindness stickers” which are meant to encourage more positive emotions when communicating online.
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China’s Didi Chuxing is close to launching a taxi-booking service in Japan

Days after raising $500 million via a strategic investment from travel giant Booking Holdings, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has continued its international push with the launch of a local business in Japan. Its new Japan-based unit is a joint venture with SoftBank, a longtime Didi investor, which has been in the works since an announcement back in February. Today’s news isn’t that the service is live yet — it isn’t — but rather than the JV has been formally launched. Didi did say, however, that it plans to launch services for passengers, drivers and taxi operators in Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Tokyo and other major cities from autumn this year. Didi said that its users in China and Hong Kong will be able to use the soon-to-launch Japan service through their regular Didi app — that’s interesting since a ‘roaming’ strategy involving Lyft and others arranged years ago never came
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And now, here’s a ‘Trumpy Cat’ augmented reality app from George Takei

Anyone who follows George Takei on Twitter can tell you that Star Trek‘s original Sulu is not a fan of President Donald Trump. But he’s found a new way to express that criticism — not just in tweets, interviews and op-eds, but also in an augmented reality app called House of Cats. The app was built in partnership with Montreal-based development company BMAD, and it allows users to interact animated animal characters like Trumpy Cat, Meowlania, Vladdy Putin and Lil’ Rocket Pug. They can add their own voice recordings, superimpose the animals on real environments and take photos with them — Takei suggested including Trumpy Cat in photos of real-world protests. When I asked where the idea came from, Takei had a simple explanation : “The Internet loves the combination of politics and cats.” While the app looks pretty silly, Takei made the by-now-commonplace observation that satire is having
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InkHunter heads to YC to build a try-and-buy tattoo marketplace

InkHunter, an augmented reality tattoo try-on app that was born out of a 48-hour hackathon back in the altogether gentler days of 2014 has bagged a place in Y Combinator’s summer 2018 batch, scoring itself the seed accelerator’s standard $120,000 deal in exchange for 7% equity. We first covered InkHunter in April 2016 when it had just launched an MVP on iOS and was toying with building a marketplace for tattoo artists. Several months and 2.5 million downloads later InkHunter launched its Android app, having spent summer 2016 going through the ERA accelerator program in New York. At that time the team was considering a b2b business model pivot, based on licensing their core AR tech to ecommerce apps and other developers. Though they wanted to keep the tattoo try on app ticking over as a showcase. Fast forward two years and it’s the SDK idea on
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Apple releases third iOS 12 beta to everyone

Apple just released the third version of the iOS 12 beta as part of the public beta program. It means that everyone can now install a development build of iOS 12, the next major version of the operating system for iPhone and iPad. Don’t forget this is still a beta version. Things will crash, things won’t work. Don’t be surprised if you lose data in your Photos, Notes or Messages apps for instance. But if you have an iPhone or iPad that you don’t use every day, you can get a glimpse of the future of iOS right now. While the final version of iOS 12 should be released near the end of September, Apple is going to release beta versions every few weeks over the summer. Before installing the beta, don’t forget to back up your device to iCloud and/or your computer using iTunes. You can then head over
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Knotel acquires 42Floors in order to build the blockchain of property

Another day, another blockchain. This time Knotel – a coworking space rental service in Manhattan – has acquired 42Floors, a commercial real estate search engine in order to, according to founder Amol Sarva, get “access to data and technology on over 10 billion square feet of office space, driving further liquidity to Knotel’s marketplace while also accelerating its plans for a blockchain platform.” Knotel is building the Agile HQ platform, a way to rent office space for a few hours or a few months without getting stuck in a least. The company has 1 million square feet of space in New York, San Francisco, London, and Berlin and it raised $100 million in funding. The company has more has more buildings in NY than WeWork. “42Floors built a powerful tool to organize a dark market that hasn’t changed in a hundred years,” said Amol Sarva, CEO of Knotel. “It’s
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Kik launches beta product after $100 million ICO

Kik made waves last year after a successful $100 million ICO. Now the company has released its first beta product related to its Kin token. Called Kinit, it’s a simple wallet that enables users to earn, store, and spend its tokens. “Kinit is a fun, easy way to earn Kin, a new cryptocurrency made for your digital life. Earning Kin is just like playing a game, only better, because you get rewarded for completing fun daily activities like surveys, quizzes, interactive videos and more,” reads the Google Play Store description. You can download the app for Android here. The Kin token is unique for a few reasons. First it is not a traditional ERC-20 token and is instead uses Ethereum for liquidity and the on the Stellar network to improve transaction speed. Further, the company is spending a great deal – about $3 million – to get developers to
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Light raises $121M led by SoftBank as it prepares to bring its camera tech to smartphones

Camera technology company Light is the latest to do the money dance with SoftBank’s massive Vision Fund after it raised a $121 million Series D round. The funding round was led by Vision Fund, the near-$100 billion fund anchored by SoftBank, with participation from consumer camera giant Leica Camera AG. Today’s announcement takes Light to around $186 million raised from investors to date. Light is best known for its futuristic camera technology and shooters. The company first introduced the $1,950 L16 camera back in 2015, which then began shipping in 2017. The camera uses 16 lenses to capture 52 megapixel imagery which produces impressive results. Perhaps most notably, the L16 is tiny which makes it hugely portable and convenient. Given the small form factor and the rise of mobile photography, it was with little surprise that earlier this month Light teased its first smartphone camera product. Exact details of what that product
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Google gets slapped $5BN by EU for Android antitrust abuse

Google has been fined a record breaking €4.34 billion (~$5BN) by European antitrust regulators for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has tweeted to confirm the penalty ahead of a press conference about to take place now. Stay tuned for more detail as we get it.

This story is developing… refresh for updates…  The fine is the second major penalty for the ad tech giant for breaching EU competition rules in just over a year — and the highest ever issued by the

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