WeChat wants to own tourism


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When people travel, they usually have a list of apps installed to navigate a new city, find restaurants, book transit tickets and more. China’s top chat app WeChat has designs on claiming that spot with a new strategy that lumps all these functions into a collection of destination-specific apps.

Operated by Tencent, Asia’s second most valuable tech giant, WeChat is a so-called “super app” defined by the myriad of services it hosts ranging from ride-hailing and food delivery to e-commerce and payments. Its efforts to dominate China received a huge boost back in 2017 when it launched “mini programs”, easily-downloadable apps that provide stripped-down but essential functionality. Millions of these lite apps are serving WeChat’s one billion users today, and WeChat is now adding travel to the list of needs it addresses.

One of WeChat’s first attempts at aiding tourism is a mini app called “MyHelsinki”, a collaboration between

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Calibra wallet won’t launch in Facebook’s biggest market


This post is by Manish Singh from TechCrunch


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Facebook unveiled its audacious Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra digital wallet on Tuesday through which it plans to transform financial services across the globe. The social juggernaut made clear of its ambitions when it said that it wishes to empower more than 1.7 billion people around the world who currently do not have a bank account.

But potentially an equally large group of people would not be able to use Facebook’s new digital payments service when it begins rollout next year.

Responding to queries from TechCrunch, a Calibra spokesperson said that the digital wallet will not be rolling out to a number of markets that have taken a stand against cryptocurrency, or are sanctioned by the United States.

“The Libra Blockchain will be global, but it will be up to custodial wallet providers to determine where they will and will not operate. Calibra won’t be available in US-sanctioned countries or

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SEC expands its war on cryptocurrency companies with a lawsuit against Kik


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The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued Kik Interactive for the $100 million token sale the company announced two years ago.

It’s an expansion of legal actions that began last year as the SEC seeks to rein in companies that the regulatory agency thinks issued securities illegally.

In the lawsuit, the SEC claims that Kik conducted an illegal $100 million offering of digital tokens by selling the tokens to U.S. investors without registering their offer and sale as required under U.S. law.

The complaint alleges that Kik had been losing money for years on its online messaging application and that the company’s management predicted it would run out of money in 2017, precisely when it began laying the groundwork for the launch of its digital token, “Kin”.

The creation of an online marketplace selling through the company’s messaging service was financed by the sale of 1 trillion digital

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Startups net more than capital with NBA players as investors


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from TechCrunch


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If you’re a big basketball fan like me, you’ll be glued to the TV watching the Golden State Warriors take on the Toronto Raptors in the NBA finals. (You might be surprised who I’m rooting for.)

In honor of the big games, we took a shot at breaking down investment activities of the players off the court. Last fall, we did a story highlighting some of the sport’s more prolific investors. In this piece, we’ll take a deeper dive into just what having an NBA player as a backer can do for a startup beyond the capital involved. But first, here’s a chart

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Tencent’s latest education push is a nod to new collaborative structure


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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When Tencent announced it had formed a new education brand this week, the internet giant wasn’t just flexing the muscles to conquer China’s booming online education sector. The new initiative is also an early result of Tencent’s long plan to foster more internal collaboration at a time when its core businesses, the lucrative video gaming segment and the billion-user WeChat, are under attack.

Called ‘Tencent Education’, the new brand consists of 20 products across all six of the firm’s business groups, announced executive senior vice president Dowson Tong at the company’s annual ecosystem summit on Wednesday. According to Tong, Tencent has over the years served some 15,000 schools and 70,000 educational institutes, giving it a reach of over 300 million users in the sector.

What this means is when it comes to making education products, there will be more teamwork among Tencent divisions, from the one overseeing WeChat to the

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Chat app Line is adding Snap-style disappearing stories


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Facebook cloning Snap to death may be old news, but others are only just following suit. Line, the Japanese messaging app that’s popular in Asia, just became the latest to clone Snap’s ephemeral story concept.

The company announced today that it is adding stories that disappear after 24-hours to its timeline feature, a social network like feed that sits in its app, and user profiles. The update is rolling out to users now and the concept is very much identical to Snap, Instagram and others that have embraced time-limited content.

“As posts vanish after 24 hours, there is no need to worry about overposting or having posts remain in the feed,” Line, which is listed in the U.S. and Japan, wrote in an update. “Stories allows friends to discover real-time information on Timeline that is available only for that moment.”

Snap pioneered self-destructed content in its app, and

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The consumer version of BBM is shutting down on May 31


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It might be time to move on from BBM. The consumer version of the BlackBerry Messenger will shut down on May 31. Emtek, the Indonesia-based company that partnered with BlackBerry in 2016, just announced the closure. It’s important to note, BBM will still exist and BlackBerry today revealed a plan to open its enterprise-version of BBM to general consumers.

Starting today, BBM Enterprise will be available through the Google Play Store and eventually from the Apple App Store. The service will be free for the one year and after that, $2.49 for six months of service. This version of the software, like the consumer version, still features group chats, voice and video calls, and the ability to edit and retract messages.

As explained by BlackBerry, BBMe features end-to-end encryption.

BBMe can be downloaded on any device that uses Android, iOS, Windows or MAC operating systems. The sender and recipient

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Samsung responds to reviewer complaints about its Galaxy Fold phone


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Samsung has issued a statement about its new, folding phone as early photos of tech reviewers with their shiny new toys were replaced on social media (and in numerous columns) with complaints from those same tech reviewers about problems with the phone’s screen.

Apparently a number of reviewers either mistakenly destroyed their phone screens or had the screens bork on them after a few days of use. It’s not a good look for Samsung.

However, our own Brian Heater had his hands on the Samsung phone, and has had nary a dent in his two days of use.

He wrote:

This sort of thing can happen with pre-production models. I’ve certainly had issues with review units in the past, but these reports are worth mentioning as a note of caution with a product, which we were concerned might not be ready for

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Samsung responds to reviewer complaints about its Galaxy Fold phone


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Samsung has issued a statement about its new, folding phone as early photos of tech reviewers with their shiny new toys were replaced on social media (and in numerous columns) with complaints from those same tech reviewers about problems with the phone’s screen.

Apparently a number of reviewers either mistakenly destroyed their phone screens or had the screens bork on them after a few days of use. It’s not a good look for Samsung.

However, our own Brian Heater had his hands on the Samsung phone, and has had nary a dent in his two days of use.

He wrote:

This sort of thing can happen with pre-production models. I’ve certainly had issues with review units in the past, but these reports are worth mentioning as a note of caution with a product, which we were concerned might not be ready for

Continue reading “Samsung responds to reviewer complaints about its Galaxy Fold phone”

Facebook is discontinuing P2P payments in Messenger in the UK and France on June 15


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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Facebook is pulling away from its ambitions to provide peer-to-peer money transfers via Messenger in Europe. Today, the company announced that it would be discontinuing the service — which let individuals send money to each other — in the two countries in the region where it had rolled it out, the UK and France on June 15 of this year. It appears that for now, the service will remain active in the US, where Facebook holds a number of money transmitter licenses.

It’s not shutting down payments altogether in Europe: it will continue to let people make charitable donations through Facebook itself.

“On 15 June 2019, we will discontinue P2P services on Messenger or through Facebook messages for all residents in the UK and France,” the company noted in a short statement on its main help page for the payments service. “While you won’t be able to exchange money with

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The chat feature may soon return to Facebook’s mobile app


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Facebook upset millions upon millions of users five years ago when it removed chat from its core mobile app and forced them to download Messenger to communicate privately with friends. Now it looks like it might be able to restore the option inside the Facebook app.

That’s according to a discovery from researcher Jane Manchun Wong who discovered an unreleased feature that brings limited chat features back into the core social networking app. Wong’s finding suggests that, at this point, calling, photo sharing and reactions won’t be supported inside the Facebook app chat feature, but it remains to be seen if that is simply because it is currently in development.

It is unclear whether the feature will ship to users at all since this

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Snap is channeling Asia’s messaging giants with its move into gaming


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Snap is taking a leaf out of the Asian messaging app playbook as its social messaging service enters a new era.

The company unveiled a series of new strategies that are aimed at breathing fresh life into the service which has been ruthlessly cloned by Facebook across Instagram, WhatsApp, and even its primary social network. The result? Snap has consistently lost users since going public in 2017. It managed to stop the rot with a flat Q4, but resting on its laurels isn’t going to bring the good times back.

Snap has taken a three-pronged approach: extending its stories feature (and ads) into third-party apps and building out its camera play with an AR platform, but it is the launch of social games that is the most intriguing. The other moves are logical and they fall in line with existing Snap strategies, but games is an entirely new

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Fleksy’s AI keyboard is getting a store to put mini apps at chatters’ fingertips


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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Remember Fleksy? The customizable Android keyboard app has a new trick up its sleeve: It’s adding a store where users can find and add lightweight third party apps to enhance their typing experience.

Right now it’s launched a taster, preloading a selection of ‘mini apps’ into the keyboard — some from very familiar brand names, some a little less so — so users can start to see how it works.

The first in-keyboard apps are Yelp (local services search); Skyscanner (flight search); Giphy (animated Gif search); GifNote (music Gifs; launching for U.S. users only for rights reasons); Vlipsy (reaction video clips); and Emogi (stickers) — with “many more” branded apps slated as coming in the next few months.

They’re not saying exactly what other brands are coming but there are plenty of familiar logos to be spotted in their press materials — from Spotify to Uber to JustEat to

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Meet the Texas startup that wants to decarbonize the chemical industry


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Solugen, a startup that has set itself up with no less lofty a goal than the decarbonization of a massive chunk of the petrochemical industry, may be the first legitimate multi-million dollar company to start out in a meth lab.

When company co-founders Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt began hunting for a lab to test their process for enzymatically manufacturing hydrogen peroxide they only had a small $10,000 grant from MIT — which was supposed to pay their salaries and cover rent and lab equipment. 

Chakrabarti, who now jokingly calls himself “the Heisenberg of hydrogen peroxide” says that the lab spaces they looked at initially were all too pricey, so through a friend of a friend of a friend, he and Hunt wound up leasing lab space in a facility by the Houston airport for $150 per month.

It was there among the burners and round-bottomed flasks that

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Is Europe closing in on an antitrust fix for surveillance technologists?


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The German Federal Cartel Office’s decision to order Facebook to change how it processes users’ personal data this week is a sign the antitrust tide could at last be turning against platform power.

One European Commission source we spoke to, who was commenting in a personal capacity, described it as “clearly pioneering” and “a big deal”, even without Facebook being fined a dime.

The FCO’s decision instead bans the social network from linking user data across different platforms it owns, unless it gains people’s consent (nor can it make use of its services contingent on such consent). Facebook is also prohibited from gathering and linking data on users from third party websites, such as via its tracking pixels and social plugins.

The order is not yet in force, and Facebook is appealing, but should it come into force the social network faces being de facto shrunk by having its platforms

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A government propaganda app is going viral in China


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Besides binge-watching TikTok videos and battling enemies in the magical land of mobile games, many Chinese people may also pass time during the upcoming Lunar New Year on Xuexi Qiangguo, a news and chat app developed by the country’s top ideology officials.

The app managed to top the Chinese App Store between January 22 and 25 before two ByteDance apps pushed it down to the third place this week, download statistics from App Annie shows. At a glance, the news section is almost exclusively about the Communist Party and president Xi Jinping.

xuexi qiangguo

The app is almost exclusively about the Communist Party and president Xi Jinping.

It doubles as an instant messenger, with development support provided by Alibaba’s Dingtalk enterprise communications tool. That means users can log in via their Dingtalk account and chat with their Dingtalk contacts directly over Xuexi Qiangguo. Alibaba explains this is a “regular business collaboration” between Dingtalk’s

xuexi qiangguo
xuexi qiangguo

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China’s WeChat is the latest to get Snap-like ‘Stories’


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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WeChat, the Chinese messaging giant with over 1 billion monthly active users around the world, just added a Snap-like ephemeral video feature as part of its biggest overhaul since 2014.

The revamp comes as Tencent, which owns stakes in Snap, sees increasing rivalry from up-and-comers like video app TikTok and news app Jinri Toutiao. WeChat has over the years morphed beyond a straight-up messenger to include many utility purposes. With more than 1 million lightweight apps up and running, users can accomplish a long list of tasks ranging from shopping to ride-hailing without ever having to leave WeChat.

Meanwhile, some have expressed frustration over WeChat’s core as a social app. Moments, a feature akin to Facebook News Feed, was once a haven for close friends to share articles, photos and videos. But newsfeed content became blander over time as people’s contact list grows to include their bosses and their local

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Winter is ending: China to restart game approvals


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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As 2018 draws to a close, China’s gaming industry — which has been beaten by a nine-month-long freeze in license approvals — woke up to exhilarating news as officials announced that they have started to review new titles again.

The much-coveted game licenses are essential for developers to legally monetize their work in China. “We’ve finished reviewing the first batch of games,” said Feng Shixin, a senior official from the propaganda department of the Chinese Communist Party, at an industry symposium on Friday. He added that the ideology watchdog will assign licenses at the soonest though there is a huge number of applications sitting in the pipeline.

Shares of Tencent, the country’s largest games publisher, jump 4 percent on Friday while its smaller competitor NetEase is up 1 percent.

China’s regulatory bodies for games stopped approving new titles since March as they underwent a major reshuffle that would eventually place the State Administration of Press

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Pure Bit, a South Korean exchange, pulls a $2.8 million exit scam


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Another day, another exit scam. This time it comes to us from South Korea where an exchange, Pure Bit, has completely shut down after raising $2.8 million in Ethereum from investors.

The exchange, which promised to deliver something call Pure Coin, was live yesterday and today is completely shut down after posting “Sorry” and “Thanks” to their communications channels.

According to a Reddit thread, the team was anonymous and that the process of building and pumping exchange tokens is a “popular trend in Korea.”

“They have gotten rid of every evidence,” wrote one reader. “Website hosted by fake name / out of Korea host / messenger / contacts were all fake too. Now their only hope is to keep on track with that ether and hope for the best.”

There is no proof yet that the team has pulled a full exit scam – there are

??

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James Patterson released a work of interactive fiction on Facebook Messenger


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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One of the world’s best-selling authors is experimenting with a new form of digital-first storytelling.

James Patterson has partnered with Facebook to release his latest novel,‘The Chef’, on its messaging app. The thriller has been available to read on Facebook Messenger since Tuesday and will make its print debut in February. Interested readers just have to send a message to “The Chef by James Patterson” on Messenger to get started with the immersive reading experience.

Facebook Messenger counts 1.3 billion monthly users. Patterson, known for the Alex Cross series, ‘The President is Missing,’ ‘Witch & Wizard,’ and others, has sold some 375 million books worldwide.

The story follows Caleb Rooney, a New Orleans police detective by day and food truck chef by night that’s been accused of murder. The short novel is formatted like a series of text messages, with video, audio, photos and documents interspersed. Rooney and

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