Pinstagram? Instagram code reveals Public Collections feature


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Instagram is threatening to attack Pinterest just as it files to go public the same way the Facebook-owned app did to Snapchat. Code buried in Instagram for Android shows the company has prototyped an option to create public “Collections” to which multiple users can contribute. Instagram launched private Collections two years ago to let you Save and organize your favorite feed posts. But by allowing users to make Collections public, Instagram would become a direct competitor to Pinterest.

Instagram public Collections could spark a new medium of content curation. People could use the feature to bundle together their favorite memes, travel destinations, fashion items or art. That could cut down on unconsented content stealing that’s caused backlash against meme “curators” like F*ckJerry by giving an alternative to screenshotting and reposting other people’s stuff. Instead of just representing yourself with your own content, you could express your identity through the things

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Opera Touch brings website cookie blocking to iOS


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Last fall, Opera introduced Opera Touch for iOS — a solid alternative to Safari on iPhone, optimized for one-handed use. Today, the company is rolling out a notable new feature to this app: cookie blocking. Yes, it can now block those annoying dialogs that ask you to accept the website’s cookies. These are particularly problematic on mobile, where they often entirely interrupt your ability to view the content, as opposed to on many desktop websites where you can (kind of) ignore the pop-up banner that appears at the bottom or the top of the page.

Cookie dialogs have become prevalent across the web as a result of Europe’s GDPR, but many people find them overly intrusive. Today, it takes an extra click to dismiss these prompts, which slows down web browsing — especially for those times you’re on the hunt for a particular piece of information and are visiting

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Orai raises $2.3M to make you a better speaker


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Orai, a startup building communication coaching tools, is announcing that it’s raised $2.3 million in seed funding.

CEO Danish Dhamani said that he co-founded the company with Paritosh Gupta and Aasim Sani to address a need in his own life — the fact that he was “held back personally and professionally” by lackluster “communications skills and public speaking skills.”

Dhamani said he attended Toastmasters International meetings hoping to improve those skills, where he came to a surprising conclusion — that he could build an algorithm to analyze your speaking abilities and give tips on how to improve.

To be clear, Orai isn’t necessarily trying to replace groups like Toastmasters, or individual speaking coaches. However, Dhamani said the “status quo” involves a “one-to-one” approach, where a human coach gives feedback to one person. Orai, on the other hand, can coach “entire IT teams, entire student bodies.”

“I

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Slack off. Send videos instead with $11M-funded Loom


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many emails can you replace with a video? As offices fragment into remote teams, work becomes more visual, and social media makes us more comfortable on camera, it’s time for collaboration to go beyond text. That’s the idea behind Loom, a fast-rising startup that equips enterprises with instant video messaging tools. In a click, you can film yourself or narrate a screenshare to get an idea across in a more vivid, personal way. Instead of scheduling a video call, employees can asynchronously discuss projects or give ‘stand-up’ updates without massive disruptions to their workflow.

In the 2.5 years since launch, Loom has signed up 1.1 million users from 18,000 companies. And that was just as a Chrome extension. Today Loom launches its PC and Mac apps that give it a dedicated presence in your digital workspace. Whether you’re

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IFTTT co-founder Linden Tibbets steps down as CEO, replaced by turnaround specialist Chris Kibarian


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After raising $24 million in funding led by Salesforce in April 2018, the startup IFTTT — which provides an API platform so that people can create short scripts for apps to work together — has announced that its co-founder Linden Tibbets has stepped down as CEO after 10 years leading the company. Chris Kibarian, who most recently was the CEO of Monster.com owner Randstad Digital Ventures, has taken on the role, and joined the board in the process. Tibbets, meanwhile, is staying on as IFTTT’s chief design officer.

Kibarian is a self-described turnaround specialist who has worked across a diverse set of businesses. In addition to restructuring Monster — a legacy from the first dot-com boom that was acquired for $429 million in 2016 — it got causes-based crowdfunding platform YouCaring into fighting form under its private equity owner. (YouCaring eventually bought Generosity.com from Indiegogo and then itself got 

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SendBird snags $52M Series B to expand messaging API tool


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SendBird, a San Francisco area startup, helps developers add messaging to their apps with a couple of lines of code. It’s an idea similar to Stripe for payments or Twilio for communications. Today, the company announced a $52 million Series B investment.

The round was led by Iconiq Capital. Existing investors Shasta Ventures, August Capital, Y Combinator, and Funders Club also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $70 million, according to Crunchbase. Y Combinator is contributing to this round and SendBird was actually a member of the 2016 winter class.

The company gives developers the ability to add messaging to their apps without a fuss.”We are a very flexible, fully customizable, white label messaging capability. We come with a fully managed infrastructure. So basically, you can log into any mobile applications or websites out there, and use our messaging capability,” company founder and CEO John

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Antescofo’s Metronaut adds an orchestra when you play music


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Meet Metronaut, an app for smartphones and tablets that could change the way you play classical music. The startup behind the app, Antescofo, raised a $4.5 million funding round (€4 million) and has attracted 160,000 downloads.

Daphni and OneRagTime are leading the round, with Nobuyuki Idei, Yann LeCun, Sophie Gasperment and Thibault Viort also participating.

Metronaut lets you play a music instrument with a professional orchestra playing all the other instruments with you. It isn’t just an audio player — the app leverages your device microphone to listen to your music and adjust the tempo of the other instruments.

The startup has recorded professional musicians in a studio so that you can play the flute without hearing the flute coming out of your speakers or headphones.

And if you still need to practice, you can set your own tempo while you learn your part — nothing will be

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HiHello raises $2.5 million to finally fix contact management


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HiHello, the latest startup to take aim at business cards with its own digital alternative, has now raised a $2.5 million seed round to continue its efforts in building a better contact management solution designed for the mobile era. The new financing was led by August Capital, K9 Ventures and TenOneTen Ventures, and will see Villi Iltchev from August Capital joining the HiHello board as a result.

The now six-month-old startup was dreamed up by K9 Ventures founder Manu Kumar, along with co-founder and Caltech and Columbia alum Hari Ravi. Notably, Kumar has been trying to solve the problem of contact management for years, having co-founded and sold his startup CardMunch to LinkedIn — a decision he later regretted, saying last year he was “still peeved” at LinkedIn for ruining and eventually killing the product. (LinkedIn later pawned off its ashes to Evernote.)

With HiHello, Kumar is giving

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Instagram’s fundraiser stickers could lure credit card numbers


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Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed that commerce is a huge part of the 2019 road map for Facebook’s family of apps. But before people can easily buy things from Instagram etc., Facebook needs their credit card info on file. That’s a potentially lucrative side effect of Instagram’s plan to launch a Fundraiser sticker in 2019. Facebook’s own Donate buttons have raised $1 billion, and bringing them to Instagram’s 1 billion users could do a lot of good while furthering Facebook’s commerce strategy.

New code and imagery dug out of Instagram’s Android app reveals how the Fundraiser stickers will allow you to search for nonprofits and add a Donate button for them to your Instagram Story. After you’ve donated to something once, Instagram could offer instant checkout on stuff you want to buy using the same payment details.

Back in 2013 when Facebook launched its Donate button, I suggested that it

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Google Assistant Actions up 2.5x in 2018 to reach 4,253 in the U.S.


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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In addition to competing for smart speaker market share, Google and Amazon are also competing for developer mindshare in the voice app ecosystem. On this front, Amazon has soared ahead – the number of available voice skills for Alexa devices have grown to top 80,000 the company recently announced. According to a new third-party analysis from Voicebot, Google is trailing that by a wide margin with its own voice apps, called Google Assistant Actions, which total 4,253 in the U.S. as of January 2019.

For comparison, 56,750 of Amazon Alexa’s total 80,000 skills are offered in the U.S.

The report notes that the number of Google Assistant Actions have grown 2.5 times over the past year – which is slightly faster growth than seen on Amazon Alexa, whose skill count grew 2.2 times during the same period. But the total is a much smaller number,

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Apple partners with Oakland nonprofit Dream Corps on Swift coding initiative


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Apple this morning announced a new partnership designed to train more people to code using its own programming language, Swift. The company says it’s now working with the Oakland-based nonprofit organization Dream Corps on the initiative, which will see Apple providing technology along with curriculum guidance, professional support and advocacy to individuals in middle and high schools, college and beyond.

The nonprofit currently operates its own learn-to-code program called #YesWeCode, which has graduated 100 people to date and placed around 60 percent in tech jobs. Its long-term goal is to help 100,000 young people from underrepresented backgrounds to be able to train for jobs in tech.

“I see Dream Corps as a peace corps for the American Dream,” said CEO Vien Truong, in a statement. Truong joined the organization in 2015, and is herself the youngest of 11 children born to an immigrant couple who migrated from Vietnam in the 1970’s,

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Stop saying, “We take your privacy and security seriously”


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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In my years covering cybersecurity, there’s one variation of the same lie that floats above the rest. “We take your privacy and security seriously.”

You might have heard the phrase here and there. It’s a common trope used by companies in the wake of a data breach — either in a “mea culpa” email to their customers or a statement on their website to tell you that they care about your data, even though in the next sentence they all too often admit to misusing or losing it.

The truth is, most companies don’t care about the privacy or security of your data. They care about having to explain to their customers that their data was stolen.

I’ve never understood exactly what it means when a company says it values my privacy. If that were the case, data hungry companies like Google and Facebook, which sell data about you

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Apple acquires talking Barbie voicetech startup PullString


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Apple has just bought up the talent it needs to make talking toys a part of Siri, HomePod, and its voice strategy. Apple has acquired PullString, also known as ToyTalk, according to Axios’ Dan Primack and Ina Fried. The company makes voice experience design tools, artificial intelligence to power those experiences, and toys like talking Barbie and Thomas The Tank Engine toys in partnership with Mattel. Founded in 2011 by former Pixar executives, PullString went on to raise $44 million.

Apple’s Siri is seen as lagging far behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, not only in voice recognition and utility, but also in terms of developer ecosystem. Google and Amazon has built platforms to distribute Skills from tons of voice app makers, including storytelling, quizzes, and other games for kids. If Apple wants to take a real shot at becoming the center of your connected living room with

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Even years later, Twitter doesn’t delete your direct messages


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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When does “delete” really mean delete? Not always or even at all if you’re Twitter .

Twitter retains direct messages for years, including messages you and others have deleted, but also data sent to and from accounts that have been deactivated and suspended, according to security researcher Karan Saini.

Saini found years-old messages found in a file from an archive of his data obtained through the website from accounts that were no longer on Twitter. He also filed a similar bug, found a year earlier but not disclosed until now, that allowed him to use a since-deprecated API to retrieve direct messages even after a message was deleted from both the sender and the recipient — though, the bug wasn’t able to retrieve messages from suspended accounts.

Saini told TechCrunch that he had “concerns” that the data was retained by Twitter for so long.

Direct messages once let users to “unsend”

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Twitter considering a tweet ‘clarifying’ function


This post is by Brian Heater from TechCrunch


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Clarification hasn’t always been Twitter’s strong suit. Fittingly, there’s a bit of confusion around the longstanding suggestion that the service could add an “edit” button in order to save users from silly typos and, well, much, much worse.

At a Goldman Sachs event this week, Jack Dorsey clarified that, rather than adding a controversial edit function, Twitter might just let people “clarify” earlier statements. The feature, it seems, is less aimed at the typo part of the equation than the whole ongoing thing with people living to regret some horrible thing they said to the world years prior.

“The other thing that we’re seeing more broadly within the culture right now in this particular moment is people quote-unquote ‘being cancelled’ because of past things that they’ve said on Twitter or various other places in social media,” the executive said in quote reported by Recode. “There’s no credible way to kind

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3DEN raises $2M to create pay-as-you-go urban spaces


This post is by Anthony Ha from TechCrunch


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3DEN is building spaces for what it calls the “in-between moments” of your day.

The name (pronounced “Eden”) comes from the idea of the “third place” — a space that’s neither home nor work. Founder and CEO Ben Silver told me the idea is to create a space that people can use if, say, they’ve got 45 minutes to fill between meetings, or if they’ve just gotten off a red eye flight and need somewhere to freshen up.

Coffee shops, coworking spaces, gyms or hotels might serve some of those functions, but Silver said 3DEN is “aggregating many different services” and bringing them together into “a very reliable space.” He suggested that the closest analogue might be a members-only clubhouse — except that instead of charging a steep membership fee, 3den requires no commitment, with pricing start at $6 for each 30 minutes of your visit.

Earlier

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Citizen expands its crime-tracking alert app to Baltimore


This post is by Taylor Hatmaker from TechCrunch


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Depending on who you ask, Citizen is either a useful urban safety tool or a menacing glimpse into a self-surveilled police state, but either way, the app is coming to Baltimore. Citizen, formerly known as Vigilante, is a crime tracking app that offers geo-targeted alerts that notify users of dangers lurking nearby, from carjackings to kidnappings and every mundane horror in between.

Citizen launched first in New York City before expanding to San Francisco in 2017. The app pulls in public safety data, sifts it through its own editorial team and dispenses it out to relevant users based on their location. Citizen’s founder and CEO Andrew Frame told the Baltimore Sun that Citizen is expanding to the city both because its team has connections there and due to Baltimore’s reputation for crime. The city’s reputation for a deeply corrupt police department with sometimes fatal results was not part

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TikTok spotted testing native video ads


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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TikTok is testing a new ad product: a sponsored video ad that directs users to the advertiser’s website. The test was spotted in the U.S. TikTok app, where a video labeled “Sponsored” from the bike retailer Specialized is showing up in the main feed, along with a blue “Lean More” button that directs users to tap to get more information.

Presumably, this button could be customized to send users to the advertiser’s website or any other web address, but for the time being it only opened the Specialized Bikes (@specializedbikes) profile page within the TikTok app.

However, the profile page itself also sported a few new features, including what appeared to be a tweaked version of the verified account badge.

Below the @specializedbikes username was “Specialized Bikes Page” and a blue checkmark (see below). On other social networks, checkmarks like this usually indicate a user whose account has gone

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Hacker who stole 620 million records strikes again, stealing 127 million more


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A hacker who stole close to 620 million user records from 16 websites has stolen another 127 million records from eight more websites, TechCrunch has learned.

The hacker, whose listing was the previously disclosed data for about $20,000 in bitcoin on a dark web marketplace, stole the data last year from several major sites — some that had already been disclosed, like more than 151 million records from MyFitnessPal and 25 million records from Animoto. But several other hacked sites on the marketplace listing didn’t know or hadn’t disclosed yet — such as 500px and Coffee Meets Bagel.

The Register, which first reported the story, said the data included names, email addresses and scrambled passwords, and in some cases other login and account data — though no financial data was included.

Now the same hacker has eight additional marketplace entries after their original listings were pulled offline, including:

Wattpad’s latest deal will turn its stories into TV shows and movies in Korea


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Wattpad’s ambitions to grow beyond a storytelling community for young adults took another leap forward today with the announcement of a new partnership that will help expand its reach in Asia. The company has teamed up with Huayi Brothers in Korea, who will now be Wattpad’s exclusive entertainment partner in the region. The two companies will co-produce content sourced from Wattpad’s community, as it’s adapted for film, TV and other digital media projects in the country.

Development deals like this are not new to Wattpad at this point.

In the U.S., the storytelling app made headlines for bringing the teen hit “The Kissing Booth” to Netflix, which shot up to become the No. 4 movie on IMDb for a time.

Wattpad also recently announced a 2nd season for “Light as a Feather,” which it produces with AwesomenessTV and Grammnet for Hulu.

It additionally works with eOne, Sony,

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