Snapchat shares hit all-time low as search acquisition Vurb’s CEO bails

Snapchat’s sagging share price is making it tough to retain talent. Bobby Lo, founder and CEO of mobile search app Vurb that Snap Inc acquired for $114.5 million two years ago is leaving day-to-day operations at the company. That means Lo cut out early on his four-year retention package vesting schedule, which was likely influenced by Snapchat falling to new share price lows. Snap is trading around $9.15 today, compared to its $17 IPO price and $24 first-day close. That’s down over 7 percent from yesterday following BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield gave Snap a sell rating with a target price of $5 saying “We are tired of Snapchat’s excuses for missing numbers and are no longer willing to give management ‘time’ to figure out monetization.” Greenfield is known as one of the top social network analysts, so people take him seriously when he says “We have been
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XS, XR, XS Max? The difference between the new iPhones

XS is the normal one. XR is the cheap one. XS Max is the big one. That’s a good start to understanding Apple’s confusing naming scheme for its new line of iPhones. Apparently jealous of Android’s fragmentation, Apple decided it needed three different models, three different storage sizes, and nine different colors. You can think of the XS as the updated iPhone X, the Max as the new Plus, and the XR as a revival of the great-for-kids budget iPhone SE. Here’s a comparison of their features, prices, options, and release dates.   The iPhone XS – Standard, Smaller, Sooner Apple’s new flagship phone is the iPhone XS. If you want the best Apple has to offer that will still fit in your pocket, this is the one for you. It’s got a 5.8-inch diagonal OLED “Super Retina” HDR screen with 458 pixels per inch, which is actually taller
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HQ Trivia nabs Target to sponsor game with biggest ever single winner prize of $100K

HQ Trivia is aiming to attract more players following a slight decline in downloads with a new, large prize. The company announced today it has bagged Target to sponsor to sponsor a special Emmy-themed game featuring its biggest-ever single winner prize of $100,000. The game will air on Monday, September 17 at 9 PM ET, but will be played in a different fashion than usual. Typically, HQ Trivia players compete to win or split a cash prize, which often doesn’t amount to much more than enough for a cup of coffee. But this time around, HQ Trivia will run in a “one winner takes all” format, meaning only one individual will earn the winnings from the game. Instead of a normal 12-question round with 10 second to answer, the game will continue until only one winner remains. Players can still use their extra lives, but only until question number 15.
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Apple is releasing iOS 12 on September 17th

Even if you don’t plan on buying a new iPhone, you’ll be able to get a bunch of new features next week. Apple plans on releasing iOS 12, the next major version of iOS, on Tuesday, September 17th. As always, iOS 12 will be available as a free download. If your iPhone or iPad runs iOS 11, you’ll be able to update to iOS 12 as Apple plans to keep supporting all existing iOS 11 devices. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in iOS 12. The main feature of iOS 12 is a performance improvement, especially for older devices. If you have an iPhone 6 or an iPad Air for instance, you should see a big improvement when it comes to launching apps, triggering the camera and entering text. The other big theme of the year is new features to help you spend less time using your phone. There’s
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Here are the prices of the iPhone Xs, Xs Max and Xr

Apple just unveiled brand new phones. The iPhone Xs and Xs Max are the two new flagship devices, replacing the iPhone X. The iPhone Xr is replacing the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with Face ID and an edge-to-edge design. And maybe you were waiting for this press conference to buy a new smartphone. So here’s a quick rundown of how much you’re going to pay for those devices. The iPhone Xs is are available with 64GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage for $999, $1,149 or $1,349. You need to add $100 on top of that for the iPhone Xs Max with a bigger display ($1,099, $1,249 or $1,449). There are three different colors — silver, gold and space gray. The iPhone Xr replaces the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It will start at $749 for 64GB, with 128GB and 256GB also available for $799 and $899. There
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Say goodbye to Inbox by Gmail

With the launch of the new Gmail, the writing was on the wall, but today Google made it official: Inbox by Gmail, the company’s experimental email client for Gmail, will shut down at the end of March 2019. Google says it’s making this change to put its focus “solely on Gmail.” While that makes sense, it’s a shame to see Inbox sail into the setting sun, given that it pioneered many of the features that have now become part of the new Gmail. I would have loved to see Google continue to experiment with Inbox instead. That, after all, was one of the reasons the company started the Inbox project to begin with. It’s hard to try radical experiments with a service that has a billion users, after all. Today, however, Google now seems to be willing to try new things right in Gmail, too. Smart Compose, for
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So long then, iPhone home button…

… it was nice pressing you. Well, at least some of the thousands and thousands of times. Apple has finally abandoned a feature that’s been a staple of its smartphones since the very start, over a decade ago: A physical home button. The trio of almost-all-screen iPhones unboxed today at its Cupertino HQ go all in on looks and swipes, with nothing but a sensor-housing notch up top to detract from their smoothly shining faces.  Last year Apple only ditched the button on its premium iPhone X handset, retaining physical home buttons on cheaper iPhones. But this year it’s a clean sweep, with buttons dropped across the board. If you want to go home on the new iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max or iPhone Xr (as the trio of new iPhones are confusingly named) well, there’s a gesture for that: An up swipe from the bottom edge
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Apple introduces the iPhone XS

Another year, another set of brand spankin’ new iPhones. But this year, little has been left to the imagination as leaks have continued to spring up over the course of the past few months. Today, however, the new iPhone becomes official. Apple has introduced a new models of the premium iPhone, the iPhone XS, which comes in three finishes, gold, silver and space grey. So let’s take a look at the details. Developing… Please refresh more iPhone Event 2018 coverage

Apple unveils the Apple Watch Series 4

Apple just unveiled an updated Apple Watch. And this year’s new Watch is all about the display. Thanks to thinner bezels and a slightly bigger casing, you’ll see more on your screen. “Apple Watch isn’t just the number one smart watch, it’s the number one watch in the world period,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said before introducing Apple COO Jeff Williams. Williams framed the Apple Watch as a communication device, a fitness device and a health monitoring tool. For instance, the Apple Watch can notify you if you have an unusual heart rate. It’s clear that Apple has put aside the idea that the Apple Watch is an app platform. “Everything about it has been redesigned and reengineered,” Williams said. The design still looks very familiar, but it’s clear that the screen is bigger. You don’t necessarily see it when there’s a dark watch face. But it’s striking in
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Google gets more RCS messaging support from Samsung

Google has secured a bit more buy in from Samsung for a next generation text messaging standard it’s long been promoting. The Android OS maker’s hope for Rich Communication Services (RCS), which upgrades what SMS can offer to support richer comms and content swapping, can provide its fragmented Android ecosystem with a way to offer comparably rich native messaging — a la Apple’s iMessage on iOS. But it’s a major, major task given how many Android devices are out there. And Google needs the entire industry to step with it to support RCS (not just device makers but carriers too) if it’s going to achieve anything more than fiddling around the edges. Zooming out for a moment, the even bigger problem is the messaging ship has sailed, with massively popular platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram having already offloaded billions of users into their respective walled gardens, pulling the center of
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Tinder launches its curated ‘Top Picks’ feature worldwide

Earlier this summer, Tinder began testing a new feature that surfaces a curated list of your best potential matches, called “Top Picks.” The feature, which is only available to paying subscribers on Tinder Gold, is now available worldwide, Tinder says. Top Picks had also quietly launched in the U.S. and U.K. last week following initial tests in Germany, Brazil, France, Canada, Turkey, Mexico, Sweden, Russia and the Netherlands, in addition to the U.K. However, Tinder waited until the global rollout was underway to announce its arrival. The idea behind Top Picks seems a bit inspired by the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, which similarly focuses on curation of matches to reduce users’ impulse to continue swiping through what feels like an unlimited number of profiles. Humans don’t do well with too many choices – an overabundance of options can actually lead to anxiety, and – in
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Apple’s 5G iPhone conundrum

Wednesday is Apple’s big product release day, where analysts expect the company to release the next edition of the iPhone. While the usual upgrades to the screen, CPU, and storage are expected as always, one major lingering question is how the company is going to handle 5G, the next-generation telecommunications standard. The conventional wisdom among analysts is that Apple will ignore 5G in 2018 and 2019 just as it took extra time to rollout 3G and 4G chipsets in its phones. A typical example of this analysis comes from Chris Smith at BGR, who says that “We already saw what Apple did when 4G LTE came out. The company waited for carriers actually to offer decent coverage before launching the first 4G iPhone. That was the iPhone 5, by the way, which launched more than a year after the first Android-based LTE phones came out.” I’m not
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WhatsApp hits India’s Jio feature phones amidst fake news violence

False rumors forwarded on WhatsApp have led angry mobs to murder strangers in India, but the Facebook-owned chat app is still racing to add users in the country. Today it launched a feature phone version of WhatsApp for JioPhone 1 and 2’s KaiOS, which are designed to support 22 of India’s vast array of native languages. Users will be able to send text, photos, videos, and voice messages with end-to-end encryption, though it will lack advanced features like augmented reality and Snapchat Stories-style Status updates. WhatsApp was supposed to launch alongside the JioPhone 2 that debuted last month for roughly $41, but was delayed. 40 million JioPhone 1s had already been sold, and it’s been estimated to control 27 percent of the Indian mobile phone market and 47 percent of the country’s feature phone market. Coming to JioPhone should open up a big new growth vector for WhatsApp as it
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Twitter launches audio-only broadcasting feature on its iOS app and Periscope

Twitter is launching a new feature that allows users to create audio-only broadcasts directly from Twitter itself, as well as Twitter’s Periscope. The feature, which Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed in a tweet this morning, is available from the same interface where you would normally launch live video. It’s currently accessible on the Twitter for iOS app, as well as on Periscope.

Now, instead of only having the option to record video after you tap “Live,” there’s a button you can tap to pick audio-only broadcast. The feature was seen in beta testing in recent weeks, but @Jack’s tweet – along with the mobile app’s update log  – indicates it has now rolled out to all. Twitter also confirmed to TechCrunch the feature is currently available only on the Twitter app for iOS and

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Verizon declines to comment on WSJ report saying Tim Armstrong is in talks to leave Oath

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Tim Armstrong is in talks to leave Verizon as soon as next month. Armstrong heads up the carrier giant’s digital and advertising division, Oath (formerly AOL, prior to the Yahoo acquisition and the subsequent merger of the two units). Oath also happens to be TechCrunch’s parent, of course. We reached out to our corporate overlords for a confirm or deny on the newspaper report. A Verizon spokesperson told us: “We don’t comment on speculation and have no announcements to make.” The WSJ cites “people familiar with the matter” telling it Armstrong is in talks to leave, which would mean he’s set to step away from an ongoing process of combining the two business units into a digital content and ad tech giant. Though he has presided over several rounds of job cuts already, as part of that process. Verizon acquired Armstrong when
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Feature Friday: Android Smart Notifications

With the new version of Android comes intelligence around mobile notifications. If you tend to swipe away notifications from a particular app, Android eventually asks you this: I told Android to keep showing these project updates to me even though I tend to swipe them. I like to see these but don’t often click on them. I would say that most of the time, I select “Keep Showing” but some of the time I do choose “Stop Notifications.” I love the idea of a smart operating system that learns how you want to use it and adapts to that versus forcing you to do the configuration manually and that is where Google is clearly going with Android. You can really see it in the latest version of the OS.


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Albert Wenger — September 5, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: A New Tack

Google’s newest app Blog Compass helps bloggers in India manage their sites

Google has been heavily focused on serving the needs of Indian web users with the recent launch of apps like Tez for payments, Areo for food ordering, Neighbourly for communities, data-friendly versions of apps like Search and YouTube, and others. Now, the company is launching an app to serve the need of Indian bloggers with an app called “Blog Compass.” The new app, now in beta, quietly popped up in the Google Play Store this week with a note that’s it’s “only available in India.” According to its Play Store description, Blog Compass helps bloggers manage their sites and find topics to write about based on Google’s trending topics. These suggestions will also be based on the bloggers’ interests and posting history, it says. The app also helps bloggers manage their sites by tracking their site stats, approving comments and reading through tips for how
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Robinhood aims at IPO as the fintech startup seeks CFO

Now valued at $5.6 billion, zero-fee stock trading app and cryptocurrency exchange Robinhood is starting preparations to go public. Just a year and a half ago, it was still largely under the radar. But then it raised a $110 million Series C at a $1.3 billion valuation in April 2017 and then just a year later scored a $363 million Series D, both led by Russian firm DST Global. Combined with the growth of its premium subscription for trading on margin called Robinhood Gold, the startup now has the firepower and revenue to make a viable Wall Street debut. Today during Robinhood CEO Baiju Bhatt’s talk at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, he revealed that his company is on the path to an IPO and has begun its search for a chief financial officer. It’s also undergoing constant audits from the SEC, FINRA and its security team to make sure
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