Snapchat acquires social map app Zenly for $250M to $350M

Snapchat acquires social map app Zenly for $250M to $350M

Snapchat’s newest feature, Snap Map, is based on its latest acquisition, social mapping startup Zenly. TechCrunch has learned that Snapchat has bought Zenly for between $250 million and $350 million in mostly cash and some stock in a deal that closed in late May. Snapchat will keep Zenly running independently, similar to how Facebook lets Instagram run independently.
Zenly’s app lets users see where their friends currently are on a map using constant GPS in the background. People can then message these friends in the app to make plans to hang out.
The Paris-based startup’s app has 4 million downloads according to Sensor Tower, with 28% from France but also sizeable numbers in Asia including 12% in South Korea and 8% in Japan. The app is mostly used by teens trying to keep up with their friends around town, at school, or at concerts and other events. Zenly had raised $35.1 million, including a $22.5 million Series B in September 2016 led by prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital f..

Virgin Mobile goes iPhone-only, offers a year of service for $1

Virgin Mobile goes iPhone-only, offers a year of service for $1

In attempt to woo customers away from competitors, Virgin Mobile USA today announced a deal that will see it transitioning to become an iPhone-only carrier. The company is also partnering with Apple to activate Virgin’s services in Apple’s stores. To kick off this change, Virgin introduced a limited time promotion that will see it giving away a year’s worth of unlimited talk, text and data for only a dollar.
There are a few caveats to this deal, of course.
Like most carriers, unlimited data is not exactly that. Customers who use more than 23 GB of data during one billing cycle will be deprioritized, Virgin says – meaning it will throttle your bandwidth as needed, especially in places where there’s a lot of congestion.
Plus, Virgin’s terms says it has the right to terminate your service is your off-network roaming usage exceeds either 800 voice minutes or 100 megabytes. (The plans come with 800 domestic voice roaming minutes and 100MB domestic data roaming, in addition to the unlimit..

Periscope lets you buy and send Super Hearts that broadcasters can cash in

Periscope lets you buy and send Super Hearts that broadcasters can cash in

Periscope has a new revenue stream and a new way to attract the best live video content to its Twitter-owned app. Today Periscope launches Super Hearts — in-app purchase virtual goods that users buy for real money, send to creators as animated hearts that get them attention in the comment reel and that broadcasters can then redeem with Twitter for a monthly cash payout.
After the 30 percent tax on in-app purchases from iOS or Android and transaction processing fees, Twitter will pay 70 percent of the cash value of the Super Hearts to the broadcasters and keep 30 percent for itself. Super Hearts are rolling out globally on iOS and Android. For now, only broadcasters in the U.S. are eligible to cash out their “tips,” but Periscope hopes to extend that to everyone soon.

Super Hearts seem to be inspired by the live stream virtual gifting trend in China, where fans buy digital roses and stickers to send to broadcasters on Yingke, Yizhibo and other apps. Last week, Apple formally approved..

Snapchat launches location-sharing feature Snap Map

Snapchat launches location-sharing feature Snap Map

Snapchat’s next big feature wants to get you to meet up with friends in real life rather than just watching each other’s lives on your phones. Snap Map lets you share your current location, which appears to friends on a map and updates when you open Snapchat. It’s rolling out today to all iOS and Android users globally.
“We’ve built a whole new way to explore the world! See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!,” Snap writes on its blog.
[Update: Snap Map was based on Snapchat’s secret acquisition of social map app Zenly for $250 million to $350 million. Read our full story on Snap’s acquisition of Zenly here.]

How to use Snapchat’s Snap Map When you open Snapchat once you have access to the feature, you can choose to share your location with all your friends, a few friends you select or you can disappear from the map at any time by going into Ghost Mode or not opening Snapchat for a few hours. Alternatively, location sharing is turned off by ..

Mobile gaming sessions down 10 percent year-over-year, but revenue climbs

Mobile gaming sessions down 10 percent year-over-year, but revenue climbs

The U.S. is leading the world in mobile gaming, accounting for 20 percent of all sessions played. That’s the word from a new industry report on the mobile gaming landscape, released this week from Flurry. That puts the U.S. ahead of markets including India, China, Brazil and Russia, it found. However, gaming sessions are dropping, even as the money to be made in games climbs, and the total time spent gaming remains largely unchanged.
According to the report, mobile gaming sessions are down 10 percent year-over-year. That’s even with the outsized hits like Pokémon Go gobbling up huge chunks of users’ time and attention.

This is not the first time Flurry has spotted a decline in gaming. In January, the firm reported it had seen a 4 percent drop in terms of the time spent in games (which is different from sessions, aka individual app launches). Meanwhile, messaging and social apps saw a 394 percent increase in time spent, Flurry had said.
It’s also the second year in a row that gaming..

SEGA’s new SEGA Forever collection brings classic games to mobile for free

SEGA’s new SEGA Forever collection brings classic games to mobile for free

SEGA is bringing some of your favorite games to mobile in new, free-to-play formats that include ads as a way to drive revenue, support offline play and other more modern features like cloud saves. The games can also be rendered ad-free with a one-time $1.99 purchase, which is a really good deal given the pedigree of some of these titles, and what you might pay elsewhere to get re-released versions of classic console games.
The SEGA Forever collection already has five titles you can get at launch, including Sonic The Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon and Altered Beast. Each of these will be available on both the Google Play Store and the App Store for iOS devices (with iMessage sticker packs for each included in the bundle).
Phantasy_Star_II_-_Mobile_-_Screenshot_02_1497526060 Sonic_The_Hedgehog_-_Mobile_-_Screenshot_02_1497526054 Altered_Beast_-_Mobile_-_Screenshot_02_1497526092 Comix_Zone_-_Mobile_-_Screenshot_0..

Fleet management tracking provider Samsara raises $40M

Fleet management tracking provider Samsara raises $40M

Rapid changes in the shipping industry has caught the attention of investors who are starting to pour large sums of money into the industry. And likely for good reason: as a future where trucks are run autonomously becomes ever clearer, the sensors and software behind that is going to have to be able to keep up.
One company, Samsara, is working on just those kinds of sensors and products to keep those fleets operating smoothly. The startup creates GPS trackers and sensors — such as ones that track temperature — and feeds back that data to fleet managers to make sure everything is running well. Samsara today said it has raised $40 million in financing at a round that values the company at more than $530 million. The round was led by General Catalyst, with Andreessen Horowitz participating. As part of this round, General Catalyst’s Hemant Taneja will be joining the company’s board.
While they operate well with fleets today, it’s likely that the same kinds of sensors could find their wa..

OnePlus 5 Unveiled With Snapdragon 835 and Dual Cameras for $479

OnePlus 5 Unveiled With Snapdragon 835 and Dual Cameras for $479

Chinese smartphone startup OnePlus has made its name over the last few years by offering high-end specs for a much lower price than more established smartphone makers. It’d developed something of a cult following, too. The run-up to the OnePlus 5 announcement was filled with rumors and leaks, and now we have all the details. OnePlus has announced the OnePlus 5 with an aluminum chassis, Snapdragon 835, up to 8GB of RAM, and a dual camera array. Pricing starts at $479 and pre-orders are live today.
The Snapdragon 835 is the same chip that powers the vastly more expensive Galaxy S8, and you can’t even get a version of that phone with 8GB of RAM. For people who care about specs, OnePlus has certainly come through. However, there are two versions of the OnePlus 5. The $479 device only has 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. The $539 phone comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You have to choose carefully, because there’s no microSD card slot for expandable storage. For all its focus on b..

Apple releases new iPhone ad focused on the ‘Memories’ feature

Apple releases new iPhone ad focused on the ‘Memories’ feature

Apple first introduced the “Memories” tab in iOS 10. This feature automatically scans your photo library and creates smart albums depending on the date, location and content of the photos on your device. For instance, iOS is going to put together an album about your last vacation in Moscow, or an album of your kids growing up.
Your iPhone can also generate emotional videos by matching your photos and videos with a soundtrack. While this feature is quite neat, many users still don’t know about it. That’s why Apple released a new ad focused on that tab in particular.
Like previous Apple ads, the company has taken a cinematic approach with a lot of ambiance shots. In the video, you can see a meticulous archivist opening drawers, dusting off old photographic film and lettering photos.
It represents an imaginary recreation of what your iPhone does in the background when you load up the Memories tab. And it’s crazy to think that it doesn’t take any effort on your side to watch a 60-second..

Amazon Prime Wardrobe lets you try on and return clothes free

Amazon Prime Wardrobe lets you try on and return clothes free

Amazon’s latest perk for Prime members could make us more stylish by letting us buy everything that catches our eye and return what doesn’t fit. Today Amazon revealed Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which is currently in beta, but you can sign up to be notified when it launches.
First you pick at least three items, and up to 15, from more than a million Amazon Fashion options, including clothes, shoes and accessories for kids and adults, to fill your Prime Wardrobe box with no upfront cost. Brands available include Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Adidas, Theory, Timex, Lacoste and more.
Once the Amazon Prime Wardrobe box arrives, you can try on the clothes for up to seven days. Then you either schedule a free pick-up or drop the resealable box with its pre-paid shipping label at a nearby UPS to return whatever you don’t want. Keep three or four items from the box and get 10 percent off everything, or keep five or more for 20 percent off. You only pay for what you keep, with no charge upfront. Amazon Pr..

Meditation app Headspace hires a new chief business officer

Meditation app Headspace hires a new chief business officer

One of the first times Ross Hoffman met Headspace CEO Rich Pierson when talking about a role running the company’s business, Pierson was not talking a lot about business. Instead, he was peppering Hoffman with questions about himself, telling stories about users, and talking about work ethos.
The business questions came later, of course, but that kind of introduction and vetting for a company built around a meditation app might not be all that surprising. and Headspace has now hired Hoffman to be its first chief business officer. Hoffman, who was most recently Twitter’s VP of global content partnerships, is joining the company at the beginning of July.
“What we spoke about was, revenue is important but not why Headspace exists — and the job is balancing those two things to make sure we’re upholding the culture and the product,” Hoffman said. ” It’s ensuring you can do that while building a business and not interfering with that mission.”
Headspace last raised $30 million in 2015 ami..

Spotify ‘Sponsored Songs’ lets labels pay for plays

Spotify ‘Sponsored Songs’ lets labels pay for plays

A mysterious “Sponsored Content” opt-out setting recently appeared in Spotify, and now the streaming giant has confirmed to TechCrunch what it’s about. Spotify is now testing a new “Sponsored Song” ad unit that a company spokesperson tells us is “a product test for labels to promote singles on the free tier.”
Instead of appearing as obvious ad banners like Spotify’s existing ads, labels can pay to have Sponsored Songs appear on playlists you follow or potentially elsewhere on the service. These can be targeted to appear to users with matching listening tastes so they fit alongside their other music. And these Sponsored Songs will be instantly playable and saveable instead of requiring an initial ad click first.
It’s not clear whether Spotify is charging labels based on cost per impression, action, listen, or some other method. You can see an example of one design for Sponsored Songs below, spotted by Liam Maloney, that shows the track Call Me by NEIKED featured separately above the s..

5 Features That Will Reshape Phones

5 Features That Will Reshape Phones

It’s been ten years since smartphones were reimagined by Apple as a mainstream device, and now everyone has them. It’s about time for some big changes, though. The first round of 2017 flagship phone releases is behind us, and we’re starting to see some interesting trends. The shape of phone screens is changing, charging is getting better, and the way you listen to music could soon be different, like it or not.
New Screen RatiosAlmost every smartphone in the last decade has used a 16:9 screen ratio, but it’s about time for that to change. A taller screen ratio can more effectively use the surface area and make a phone more comfortable to hold. We’ve already seen two examples of this, and there will be a lot more in the coming year.

You need only look at the LG G6 and Galaxy S8 to see a glimpse of the future. Year after year, we’ve seen that people gravitate toward phones with larger screens. However, there’s an upper limit how big a phone can be when it’s 16:9. Past six or so inches..

Winners and losers in Amazon’s $13.7B purchase of Whole Foods

Winners and losers in Amazon’s $13.7B purchase of Whole Foods

Amazon is taking a huge bite out of the fresh food business with its bid for Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. But even though this is a deal between two companies, it’s not just the two of them being touched by it.
The intersection between the food and tech industries has been playing out for years now, sprouting dozens of food startups; efforts from large tech companies to move into food; and strategies from large food players tapping tech to make sure they don’t miss out on the next wave of consumers and how they are choosing to shop. Here’s a look at how some of the biggest and most prominent of these, plus a few others, might be impacted by today’s news:
Instacart This startup, founded at Y Combinator in 2012, blazed a trail in the US at a time when very few grocery stories offered delivery, by providing a way to shop through an app and get everything brought to your door. It’s positioned itself as an Amazon competitor, the business is making good returns in its biggest mark..

Amazon Channels now works like a TV login for HBO & Showtime’s apps

Amazon Channels now works like a TV login for HBO & Showtime’s apps

Amazon Channels is starting act like a TV provider. The service, which allows Prime members to subscribe to over-the-top premium networks like HBO, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax and others, now allows you to log into some of the networks’ standalone streaming apps, as well, starting with HBO and Showtime. That is, instead of entering in your cable or satellite TV credentials to gain access to the app, you can just enter in your Amazon account information.
Launched in late 2015 as a “streaming partners program,” Amazon Channels represents another way that Amazon is targeting cord cutters. The service offers access to premium networks – including both those that you used to only get with a pay TV subscription, as well as subscriptions to digital-only video providers, like NBCU’s comedy network SeeSo, Tribeca Shortlist, or Fullscreen, for example.

While there’s a benefit from being able to organize your subscriptions to these services all under one roof, there have been downsides as well.
..

Self-Driving Cars, AI Are Driving New Chip Designs

Self-Driving Cars, AI Are Driving New Chip Designs

Over the last decade, the rise of smartphones and tablets has fundamentally transformed the semiconductor business. As the market has matured, however, an increasingly large number of companies have struggled to remain profitable. Firms like Samsung and Apple earn the vast majority of the profits on smartphone sales. A handful of SoC providers dominate the component business, with Qualcomm at the relative top of the market and companies like Rockchip, Allwinner, and Mediatek holding large swathes of the budget and midrange segments.
The above means less profit for other firms. If Computex was any indication, these companies are looking towards emerging markets in self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, next-generation connectivity solutions, artificial intelligence, and a range of other topics.

“We are going from hype phase to more a reality phase with real products. You can see them, you can feel them,” Hugo Swart, head of Qualcomm’s consumer electronics and IoT businesses, tol..

Slack is reportedly raising another huge $500M round of funding

Slack is reportedly raising another huge $500M round of funding

Slack is in the midst of raising another $500 million in financing at what could be a $5 billion valuation — money it will likely critically need as it goes after major corporate clients and construct a functional business — according to a report by Recode.
Slack also got some interest with a $9 billion price tag from Amazon, according to a report from Bloomberg last night. All this means that Slack’s valuation continues to rise amid the hype in Silicon Valley, but it could also benefit greatly from additional resources in the form of a larger organization or a fresh round of financing. Going after larger enterprise customers, which have locked in existing (if inferior) tools, while sticking to its design ethos will be an expensive process.
Slack is a darling in the Valley that has snapped up the hearts and minds of startups throughout the Bay Area and abroad. The company focuses on a dead-simple chat interface that’s designed to help large teams communicate around projects. That may..

Mobile gaming company Scopely raises $60M

Mobile gaming company Scopely raises $60M

Scopely just announced that it has raised $60 million in Series C funding.
The round was led by Revolution Growth, a firm led by former AOL executives Steve Case and Ted Leonsis (AOL owns TechCrunch), which targets startups outside Silicon Valley and New York. (Scopely is headquartered in Los Angeles.) Revolution’s Donn Davis is joining Scopely’s board of directors, while Greenspring, Sands Capital Ventures, Cross Creek Advisors and Pritzker Group Venture Capital also participated in the new round.
Scopely has built a platform for promoting and monetizing mobile games, whether developed in-house or by third-party studios. Its titles include The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, Wheel of Fortune Free Play and WWE Champions. The company says it reaches more than 125 million players, with The Walking Dead alone generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue.
In the funding release, CEO Walter Driver noted that it’s been less than a year since Scopely raised its Series B, an..

Snap taps its IPO price as it continues to crash

Snap taps its IPO price as it continues to crash

Update: It happened! Snap fell down to its IPO price (for a few seconds) of $17 per share after its continued steady march south over the past several weeks. The company is now barely holding just above its IPO price.
Snap’s last earnings report resulted in a disaster, and while the company still managed to stay above $20 for an extended period of time, a string of bad days for the market — and likely increased skepticism for the company’s future among the rest of the bundle of growth stocks — is putting increased pressure on its price. There have been a slew of smaller IPOs since Snap as more and more companies try to get out the gate, but especially for non-traditional ad-driven companies (looking at Pinterest, for example), it may affect the future of the so-called IPO window being “open.”
We’re going to get another heat check on investor appetite in the next few weeks with Blue Apron, which filed to go public earlier this month. Like Snap, Blue Apron — a meal delivery service tha..

Musical.ly gets into original content with new shows from Viacom, NBCU & Hearst

Musical.ly gets into original content with new shows from Viacom, NBCU & Hearst

Lip-syncing social network Musical.ly is getting into original content, thanks to new deals with Viacom, NBCU and Hearst, which will bring short-form video series to the app. However, unlike the original videos found on Snapchat – an app that’s often the next step up for the tween-age Musical.ly audience – these shows are designed to be interactive.
That is, the shows encourage Musical.ly’s users – a group who’s already comfortable making and producing videos to share with friends – to post their own personal responses to the shows using hashtags.
The news was first reported by Variety, which also notes the new show will be free to watch, and don’t initially include any ads or other forms of monetization. Instead, they’re designed to test the waters for original content across the social network – and Musical.ly hasn’t paid its partners to produce the shows, either, the report says.
Musical.ly is something of an under-hyped social network, given its size and scale. The Shanghai-head..

Microsoft Pix can now turn your iPhone photos into art, thanks to A.I.

Microsoft Pix can now turn your iPhone photos into art, thanks to A.I.

Microsoft is rolling out an update to its AI-powered photo editing app, Microsoft Pix, that aims to give Prisma and others like it some new competition. While the app was originally designed to enhance your iPhone photos by tweaking things like color, exposure and other variables, the newly updated Microsoft Pix will now let you have a little more fun with your photos, too – this time, by turning them into art.
Similar to Prisma, the new app introduces a feature called Pix Styles, which allows you to transform your photos into works of art, and use other effects. For example, one effect will make the picture look like it’s on fire. These are not photo filters, to be clear – the styles actually transfer texture, pattern and tones to the photo, explains Microsoft.
The app launches today with 11 styles included, but more will be added in the weeks ahead, the company says.
Also like Prisma, you can swipe your finger across the style to increase or reduce the effect. When you’re done, yo..

Microsoft Pix can now turn your iPhone photos into art, thanks to artificial intelligence

Microsoft Pix can now turn your iPhone photos into art, thanks to artificial intelligence

Microsoft is rolling out an update to its AI-powered photo editing app, Microsoft Pix, that aims to give Prisma and others like it some new competition. While the app was originally designed to enhance your iPhone photos by tweaking things like color, exposure and other variables, the newly updated Microsoft Pix will now let you have a little more fun with your photos, too – this time, by turning them into art.
Similar to Prisma, the new app introduces a feature called Pix Styles, which allows you to transform your photos into works of art, and use other effects. For example, one effect will make the picture look like it’s on fire. These are not photo filters, to be clear – the styles actually transfer texture, pattern and tones to the photo, explains Microsoft.
The app launches today with 11 styles included, but more will be added in the weeks ahead, the company says.
Also like Prisma, you can swipe your finger across the style to increase or reduce the effect. When you’re done, yo..

Facebook requests input on hard questions about censorship and terrorism

Facebook requests input on hard questions about censorship and terrorism

How should Facebook decide what’s allowed on its social network, and how to balance safety and truth with diverse opinions and cultural norms? Facebook wants your feedback on the toughest issues it’s grappling with, so today it published a list of seven “hard questions” and an email address — [email protected] — where you can send feedback and suggestions for more questions it should address.
Facebook’s plan is to publish blog posts examining its logic around each of these questions, starting later today with one about responding to the spread of terrorism online, and how Facebook is attacking the problem.
[Update: Here is Facebook’s first entry in its “Hard Questions” series, which looks at how it counters terrorism. We have more analysis on it below]
“Even when you’re skeptical of our choices, we hope these posts give a better sense of how we approach them — and how seriously we take them” Facebook’s VP of public policy Elliot Schrage writes. “And we believe that by becoming mo..

Facebook requests input on hard questions about censorship

Facebook requests input on hard questions about censorship

How should Facebook decide what’s allowed on its social network, and how to balance safety and truth with diverse opinions and cultural norms? Facebook wants your feedback on the toughest issues it’s grappling with, so today it published a list of seven “hard questions” and an email address — [email protected] — where you can send feedback and suggestions for more questions it should address.
Facebook’s plan is to publish blog posts examining its logic around each of these questions, starting later today with one about responding to the spread of terrorism online, and how Facebook is attacking the problem.
“Even when you’re skeptical of our choices, we hope these posts give a better sense of how we approach them — and how seriously we take them” Facebook’s VP of public policy Elliot Schrage writes. “And we believe that by becoming more open and accountable, we should be able to make fewer mistakes, and correct them faster.”

Here’s the list of hard questions with some context fro..

Twitter tweaks its design again in an attempt to woo newcomers

Twitter tweaks its design again in an attempt to woo newcomers

In an effort to better cater to newcomers, Twitter once again is redesigning its app across mobile, desktop and the web. The revamp isn’t a radical departure from its prior look-and-feel or user experience – unlike when it introduced its own stories-like feature called Moments, for example, or when began reordering the tweets in your timeline. Instead, the update involves a series of smaller tweaks to things like where your settings are located, the typography used, the shape of its icons, and more.
However, for iOS power users, there will still be a bit of muscle memory loss that’s likely to follow this update – just as there was when it relocated the revamped “Explore” section to sit where your “Notifications” tab used to be.

The same will now hold true for Settings on iOS.
Instead of tapping over to your profile, then to the gear icon, everything Settings-related has been moved over to a new left-side navigation menu. That means there’s also no longer a “profile” button at the b..

Europe mostly ends mobile roaming fees from today

Europe mostly ends mobile roaming fees from today

Europeans traveling through the 28 Member State bloc are now able to use their mobile devices more freely, thanks to a top level abolition of mobile roaming charges across the region.
In a joint statement yesterday from the Commission, European parliament and Council, the move is described as “a concrete, positive result for European citizens”.
There are limits, however, with a fair use policy to avoid abuse from so-called permanent roamers; and fees still possible (albeit capped) for very inexpensive plans. Unlimited data will also not necessarily carry over when a subscriber is using their device in another EU country.
But for average mobile users traveling across the EU there shouldn’t be any extra to pay than their normal tariff incurs when they’re at home. (The EC has an FAQ on the detail of the policy here.)
Nor should European carriers be seeking to put up their domestic tariffs on account of roaming fees going away, although we’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.
A..

New Microsoft Whitepaper Details Windows 10’s Built-in Ransomware Protection

New Microsoft Whitepaper Details Windows 10’s Built-in Ransomware Protection

When WannaCry hit last month, Microsoft took the unusual step of patching all of its older operating systems to guard against the systemic threat the ransomware posed to infrastructure and critical facilities, like hospitals. The one OS that didn’t require any patching was Windows 10. Now, Microsoft has released a report on how Windows 10 is designed to prevent ransomware attacks. While such techniques are always a race between black hats on one side and white hats on the other, it’s an interesting look at how OS design has evolved over the years, and what an OS developer can do to help prevent them.
Microsoft writes:

While security updates are automatically applied in most computers, some users and enterprises may delay deployment of patches. For older Windows versions like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 that didn’t take the fix in security bulletin MS17-010, but had cloud protection turned on (in Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender AV) WannaCrypt was prevented fr..

Microsoft Details Windows 10’s Built-in Ransomware Protection

Microsoft Details Windows 10’s Built-in Ransomware Protection

When WannaCry hit last month, Microsoft took the unusual step of patching all of its older operating systems to guard against the systemic threat the ransomware posed to infrastructure and critical facilities, like hospitals. The one OS that didn’t require any patching was Windows 10. Now, Microsoft has released a report on how Windows 10 is designed to prevent ransomware attacks. While such techniques are always a race between black hats on one side and white hats on the other, it’s an interesting look at how OS design has evolved over the years, and what an OS developer can do to help prevent them.
Microsoft writes:

While security updates are automatically applied in most computers, some users and enterprises may delay deployment of patches. For older Windows versions like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 that didn’t take the fix in security bulletin MS17-010, but had cloud protection turned on (in Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender AV) WannaCrypt was prevented fr..

Netflix’s New Content Download Option Has a Hidden Catch

Netflix’s New Content Download Option Has a Hidden Catch

When Netflix added support for content downloading late last year, it was hailed as a long-overdue move for the popular VOD service. Having now used the option while traveling on several occasions, I can confirm that while it can be buggy — I’ve had to restart downloads multiple times and playback sometimes fails to rotate the content properly — it’s also handy to be able to grab a few episodes of a favorite show before you hop on a plane, especially if the jet doesn’t have a modern in-flight entertainment system.
Up to today, the only limit I was aware of was the temporary nature of the downloads themselves. When you download a file, you have a specific amount of time in which to watch it (48 hours in the files I’ve downloaded, but apparently some content can be kept for up to seven days). As far as I’ve experienced, that’s been the only restriction.

According to Android Police, however, there’s another catch when you download content. Some of it — and it’s not clear which — can o..

Facebook’s AI crosses language barrier to assist in Spanish

Facebook’s AI crosses language barrier to assist in Spanish

Any technology that only works in English neglects 75% of the world. That problem is especially severe for Facebook with its global userbase. Yet most languages are being left out by the advances in artificial intelligence centered around natural language processing led by researchers in the U.S. and China.
But today marks a milestone for AI accessibility. Facebook Messenger’s artificial intelligence assistant “M” can now make recommendations in Spanish of Messenger features to use if it detects that that’s the language someone writes in. M Suggests rolled them out in English two months ago.

The feature scans the words and intent of your messages, then pops up optional suggestions from Messenger’s many features. Say “Te debo $20” and M suggests the payments feature. Write “Besos!” and it will surface lovey-dovey stickers you can send. Ask “¿Dónde estás?” and M pulls up the location sharing feature.
M Suggestions are now available to all Facebook users with their language set to Spa..

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes leave of absence

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes leave of absence

Amidst a tough time for Uber, CEO Travis Kalanick’s parents were in a tragic boating accident last month that took the life of his mother. Now to grieve and clear his head before enacting changes at Uber, Travis has told his team he’ll be taking a leave of absence of unspecified length. You can read the CEO’s full letter to Uber below.
Kalanick notes that “During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly. It’s hard to put a timeline on this – it may be shorter or longer than we might expect.”

When Kalanick returns he will take a diminished role, according to the slate of recommendations by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in his report on the investigation into Uber’s ethics and leadership troubles, including sexual harassment and discrimination. “Some of the responsibilitie..

Google Play introduces ‘Android Excellence’ collections that showcase editorially selected top apps and games

Google Play introduces ‘Android Excellence’ collections that showcase editorially selected top apps and games

At WWDC this month, Apple introduced an entirely revamped App Store that puts a much greater focus on editorial, with plans for stories about the apps, how to’s, interviews, and more, in addition to regular postings of curated lists and “app of the day” type features. Today, Google announced its own plans to expand editorial involvement on Google Play, with the launch of its new “Android Excellence” program.
The idea with “Android Excellence” is offer Google Play’s editors the ability to showcase the highest-quality apps and games on Android on a rotating basis. Like Apple’s “Editor’s Choice” round-ups which often highlight new iOS features or are top-tier examples of great design, the new “Android Excellence” collections will also be used to highlight the sort of apps Google wants developers to build for its own mobile platform.
Explains Google, those chosen for the new collections will deliver “incredible user experiences on Android,” take advantage of Google’s best practices, or h..

Twitter chatbots can now include buttons that push you to tweet, follow, click & more

Twitter chatbots can now include buttons that push you to tweet, follow, click & more

Twitter today is rolling out a new feature that will allow businesses to prompt their followers to take an action beyond a simple fav or retweet. The company is introducing the ability for businesses to add buttons inside their direct message conversations designed to encourage customers to do things like tweet about the company’s Twitter bot, visit their website, follow the business’s Twitter account, or start a chat with another account the business runs, among other things.
The feature is now one of several enhancements Twitter has made to its Direct Messaging experience in recent months. In May, for example, Twitter announced a way for businesses to run ads that were designed to bring users inside a Direct Messaging experience, where they could then interact with the business’s chatbot.
Twitter has also rolled out a bevy of features for Direct Messages, like welcome messages, quick replies, custom profiles, location sharing, and more – a suite of features seemingly intended to ch..

Apple undercuts Facebook in the augmented reality platform war

Apple undercuts Facebook in the augmented reality platform war

Facebook may be the world’s most powerful app, but it’s still just an app on Apple’s operating system. Facebook’s grand vision for augmented reality was that it would make it easy for any developer to build and distribute an AR experience — as long as it lived inside Facebook’s app. But Apple has once again used its control of the mobile operating system… Read More

Intel Sued for Allegedly Defective, Exploding Phones

Intel Sued for Allegedly Defective, Exploding Phones

Several years ago, back when Intel was still trying to break into the smartphone market, the company announced a highly unusual partnership. Because Intel couldn’t build a smartphone modem integrated on-die on its own silicon at that time, the company decided to partner with TSMC, which handled its modem manufacturing. This allowed Intel to bring an SoC to market that could compete in the budget and mainstream smartphone markets of the time with the on-chip modem that was critical to competing in that space. The chip, dubbed SoFIA, had a multi-year roadmap and Intel also inked deals with the Chinese manufacturer Rockchip to bring devices out for the mainland Chinese market as well.
A slide from 2014, showing where SoFIA fit in Intel’s roadmaps at the time.
A new complaint filed against Intel and emailed to ExtremeTech by smartphone and device manufacturer Qbex, a Brazilian company, alleges that defects in the SoFIA design led to a number of smartphone fires and thousands of complaints ..

Android Pay now used for international P2P transfers, courtesy of WorldRemit

Android Pay now used for international P2P transfers, courtesy of WorldRemit

AndroidPay, Google’s wallet for Android devices, is getting a boost in its global profile and functionality today: WorldRemit, the $500 million remittance startup connected to around 120 million mobile money accounts globally, which lets residents in one country transfer money to family and friends in another, has announced that it will now let people make transfers using Google’s mobile wallet.
Android Pay will be used for paying into the app; those receiving the money can specify any mobile bank account to collect the transferred funds.
This is a first for Android Pay, which up to now has been used for in-app and contactless payments and to make P2P transfers to people in the same country, but never international P2P money transfers.
Google has seen some interesting recent milestones since launching Android Pay in 2015, including a recent partnership with PayPal, integrating it with Facebook’s Messenger for group payments, and an expanded payment API to boost ubiquity for Android ..

Intel Quietly Threatens Microsoft, Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation

Intel Quietly Threatens Microsoft, Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation

Last week, Intel published a blog post detailing the 39th anniversary of the x86 microarchitecture’s launch and the various ways the microarchitecture has evolved over the decades, from the advent of various SIMD (single instruction multiple data) capabilities to advanced encryption and broken security hardware security enhancements. For the most part, it was an unremarkable story for the not-quite-40th-anniversary of what remains one of the most important ISAs on the market today.
It wasn’t until near the end of the post that things turned ugly. In the editorial, Intel Fellow Richard A. Uhlig and Intel general counsel Steven Rodgers write:

Intel carefully protects its x86 innovations, and we do not widely license others to use them… In the early days of our microprocessor business, Intel needed to enforce its patent rights against various companies including United Microelectronics Corporation, Advanced Micro Devices, Cyrix Corporation, Chips and Technologies, Via Technologies, an..

Here is a fun tech chart while the market falls over

Here is a fun tech chart while the market falls over

There are a lot of headlines today about tech getting a slap in the face on Wall Street — particularly Apple which is down more than 3%. These guys are actually down only a few percentage points but for the largest companies in the world, that translates to billions of dollars.
But while we wring our hands around a bit of a sell-off today in some of the largest companies in the world, here’s a not-so-subtle reminder that there’s at least another company that’s decided to go on a rapid rise in the past two years:

That’s Nvidia, a stock that might as well be in the FANG acronym at this point as a major growth stock (that’s Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google). Nvidia’s been on a complete tear in the past couple months (and the past few years) thanks to its major presence of the market for GPU technology, which stumbled into a critical component of machine learning technology. Instead of normal CPUs, Nvidia’s windfall has been the wild demand for technology that can support emerging p..

The Essential Phone’s Exclusive Carrier Will Be Sprint

The Essential Phone’s Exclusive Carrier Will Be Sprint

Andy Rubin’s Android startup, Essential, announced its first phone earlier this month. No details on carrier partnerships were available at the time, but Essential promised to provide more information ahead of the launch. Now, the company has announced Sprint, and only Sprint, will be the carrier partner for the Essential Phone.
Essential President Niccolo de Masi talked this agreement up with some over-the-top language, calling Sprint “the network of the future.” Essential insists this was a strategic decision, but I have difficulty believing that — it’s hard not to see this is a defeat for Essential. Carriers are extremely cautious when dealing with an unknown new OEM. Essential clearly wanted to set itself apart from the riffraff by getting carriers to place a bet on its phone, which by the way is technically called the PH-1 (Ph+one=phone).

The larger carriers were apparently not impressed by Essential’s pitch or its clever model naming. AT&T and Verizon are the big dogs, so get..

Snapchat seduces advertisers with new self-serve tools and certified partners

Snapchat seduces advertisers with new self-serve tools and certified partners

To beat Facebook and Google’s duopoly, Snapchat needs advertisers to build and buy campaigns with confidence. So today it’s announcing the Snap Publisher tool for building vertical video creative, it’s rolling out its self-serve Ad Manager, and its launching a Snapchat Certified Partners program to connect advertisers to trained third-party ad tech tool providers.
Together, these will make it easier for advertisers to handle their own campaigns start to finish, or have their hands held.
Snap needs to attract more spend from advertisers after it disappointed Wall Street in its first earnings report last month where it revealed $149.6 million in revenue compared to the $158 million expectations. Losses also mounted to $2.2 billion in Q1, up from $104 million a year earlier, which looked bad even without the $2 billion in stock compensation it paid out.

Snap must do everything it can to get its business growing, especially since user growth has plummetted since Facebook started heavil..

Google’s smart keyboard app Gboard adds phrase suggestions, a draw-an-emoji feature & more

Google’s smart keyboard app Gboard adds phrase suggestions, a draw-an-emoji feature & more

Google this morning is rolling out a notable update for its smart keyboard app, Gboard, which introduces a number of new features aimed at helping you communicate more quickly, while typing less. In the latest release, Google is improving typing quality via machine intelligence, which is an under-the-hood update that will impact its ability to make suggestions and correct mistakes. To end users, these changes will be visible through a new feature that will suggest phrases, instead of just words.
The new app will also let you draw an emoji on the screen to add it to your conversation, as well as introduce updated Search cards.
The draw-an-emoji feature seems like it will be a more fun than it is practical, but it’s still an interesting experiment in trying to make the texting experience easier. Now, you’ll be able to tap on the emoji handwriting button to draw an emoji right on your screen, says Google. Gboard will then automatically recognize this drawing and show results that match ..

Andy Rubin’s not-so-Essential phone only coming to Sprint in US

Andy Rubin’s not-so-Essential phone only coming to Sprint in US

Oh dear. “From “essential” to inconsequential in one partnership”, as one of my colleagues put it when told the news that Andy Rubin’s much hyped Essential smartphone is only going to be ranged by fourth largest US network, Sprint. “lol good luck” was another’s even more concise hottake.
USA Today quotes Essential president Niccolo de Masi spinning like a fidget spinner the revelation that Rubin’s hardware upstart — which, only last week, we heard had apparently raised $300 million in order to bring its smartphone to the masses — has in fact failed to secure the kind of widespread carrier distribution that is, dare I say it, essential for bringing smartphones to the masses.
“We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was,” quoth de Masi. “I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future.”
Feelings are great. It’s just that reality isn’t always very kind to them.
The ..

Apple unveils Business Chat, which brings customer service and shopping into iMessage

Apple unveils Business Chat, which brings customer service and shopping into iMessage

Apple just unveiled Business Chat, its bid to turn iMessage into a communication platform that can compete with Facebook Messenger – and perhaps, make iMessage one of the main ways you interact with businesses.
The company quietly announced the service earlier this week with an update to its developer site, but few details were available at the time. Today was the real introduction, with a session at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference.
Business Chat will be part of iOS 11, allowing individuals to open an iMessage window from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, or Siri, and start a conversation with a business. Those conversations will include basic text chats, but Apple is also offering support and structure for more complex interactions, like scheduling an appointment.
In fact, Business Chat may be the most promising opportunity for iMessage’s App Store. The idea is that businesses can include some of their app capabilities within a chat. For example, Apple showed off a conversation where..

Apple legalizes and taxes in-app tipping for content creators

Apple legalizes and taxes in-app tipping for content creators

Apple has activated a new revenue stream that could foster communities of digital content creators around the world like those already thriving in China. Apple’s newly published update to its App Store policies officially designates voluntary tipping via virtual currency as in-app purchases that Apple taxes 30 percent. By taking tipping out of the grey area, more app developers might institute digital tip jars as an alternative way to get creators paid without having to offer ad revenue sharing.
Chinese live-streaming video apps like Yinke and Yizhibo have long embraced tipping, allowing viewers to tip or give virtual gifts to the stars they watch in exchange for extra attention from the performer or just as a show of gratitude. American live-streaming apps like Facebook Live and Periscope don’t offer tipping; instead, Facebook has begun letting broadcasters show ads in their streams and keep 55 percent of the revenue.
Yinke users can buy expensive virtual goods and send them to cont..

Target and Cartwheel apps to merge starting this summer, mobile payments and improved maps to follow

Target and Cartwheel apps to merge starting this summer, mobile payments and improved maps to follow

Target’s mobile app strategy will undergo a significant change, starting this summer. The retailer announced this week it will soon combine the functionality of its Cartwheel savings app with its main shopping app, in preparation for an eventual Cartwheel shutdown. The Target app will also receive a notable upgrade this year, adding support for an indoor map that shows your location in the store, along with the nearby Cartwheel deals, in addition to support for mobile payments.
According to Target, the decision to merge its apps into one is a result of customer feedback. Shoppers wanted an easier way to access all of what Target has to offer from one destination, not two.
Target isn’t the only retailer to streamline its mobile app strategy. A couple of years ago, Ebay shut down its wider suite of apps (Fashion, Motors, and Valet), to return their functionality to Ebay’s main app, for example. Meanwhile, other retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s, and CVS – all of which have their own mobil..

Facebook will lease its first San Francisco office, for Instagram

Facebook will lease its first San Francisco office, for Instagram

Facebook is finally getting office space in San Francisco, and is currently considering several different locations, one of which will house up to 100 Instagram employees, an industry source familiar with the lease plan confirmed to TechCrunch.
Earlier today, The Registry reported Facebook is in talks for a space at 181 Fremont in the South of Market district — a 70-story tower that won’t open until early next year. Our source confirmed this is one of the buildings Facebook is choosing from, though there are other options it’s looking at and no lease has been signed yet.
Instagram has a giant light-up logo in front of its current Menlo Park office. Image by Vocino
Facebook is considering this a “test” or “pilot” of San Francisco office space, our source said, so don’t expect it to suddenly relocate its massive Menlo Park headquarters from Silicon Valley up to the city. Facebook has offices in 68 cities around the world, yet has had to resort to holding SF meetings at its PR company ..

Taylor Swift embraces streaming, brings full catalog to Spotify and more

Taylor Swift embraces streaming, brings full catalog to Spotify and more

After breaking up in 2014, Taylor Swift and Spotify are getting back together. To celebrate her album 1989 hitting 10 million records sold and her selling 100 million total songs, today the pop singer announced she’s making her full back-catalog available on all streaming services starting tonight at midnight.
Swift was already on Apple Music, but now she’s opening up to Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal, Pandora Premium and more. Industry sources tell me that Swift’s songs will be available on both the free ad-supported and paid tiers of Spotify.
❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/kcpY03qHLp
— Taylor Nation (@taylornation13) June 8, 2017
The move by one of streaming’s biggest holdouts could signal a sea change in how artists view the technology that’s been criticized for underpaying content creators. As Spotify recently hit 50 million paid subscribers and Apple Music now has 27 million, the payouts are growing and starting to make up for the massive decline in phy..

Acast introduces programmatic ads to its podcast platform

Acast introduces programmatic ads to its podcast platform

Acast says it’s time for podcasts to embrace programmatic advertising.
With its publishing and monetization tools, Acast has already moved beyond the generally low-tech state of podcast advertising — think of how many podcasts still play the same outdated ads when you download old episodes — but launching a marketplace for programmatic (i.e. automated algorithmic) ad-buying is the next step in that evolution.
The marketplace will be powered by technology from AdsWizz. Acast’s Chief Revenue Officer Ross Adams said that rather than making one-off ad deals, this will allow marketers to run campaigns across the company’s 1,400 shows with “all the usual kinds of targeting options” that you get with programmatic, including age, gender, location and interests.
Adams is hoping the automation and targeting will attract brands that have been willing to advertise on digital music services like Spotify and iHeartRadio, but have stayed away from podcasts because of the limited technology. (Those..

Report: Siri Hobbled by Apple’s Obsession with User Privacy

Report: Siri Hobbled by Apple’s Obsession with User Privacy

Apple was the first major smartphone maker to focus on making a smart assistant an integral part of its phones when Siri debuted on the iPhone 4s. However, Apple has since been surpassed by Amazon and Google. A new report from The Wall Street Journal blames Apple’s lack of progress on equal parts hubris and an excessive concern with privacy.
What many people forget about Siri is that it was a completely functional voice assistant app that was acquired by Apple in 2010. The version of Siri that launched on the iPhone 4s in 2011 was not substantially different from the version that ran as an app. Apple’s approach to developing Siri remained unchanged for several years, as the company’s engineers thought it was ahead of everyone else by a wide margin.

According to the WSJ report, Apple’s feeling of superiority faltered in 2014 when a group of engineers from Cupertino attended an Amazon event that featured an Alexa demo. There, they say Amazon’s fledgling AI understand commands that wo..

iOS 11’s new ‘Password Autofill for Apps’ won’t work with (or replace) your favorite password manager

iOS 11’s new ‘Password Autofill for Apps’ won’t work with (or replace) your favorite password manager

The next version of Apple’s iOS operating system, iOS 11, is going to make it easier for you to log into your apps. The new mobile operating system’s software will introduce a new feature called “Password AutoFill for Apps,” which will offer easy access to your passwords right from the iOS keyboard when you’re on an app’s login screen. Read More

Apple to Roll Out ‘Horizon’ iPhone Screen-Repair Machines

Apple to Roll Out ‘Horizon’ iPhone Screen-Repair Machines

One of the concerns people expressed way back when the first iPhone launched was, “Aren’t glass phones going to break?” Well, yeah they are. In fact, Apple has been making a surprising amount of cash repairing broken iPhone screens over the years. It hasn’t exactly made it easy for third-party repair centers to replace the screens themselves, but that’s about to change. Apple is set to deploy its proprietary iPhone-fixing “Horizon” machine in more than 400 third-party repair centers across the world.
Apple reportedly took in $1-2 billion fixing broken iPhone screens last year. If Apple fixes your screen, the warranty remains intact. However, take that busted phone to a third-party, and you’re more than likely going to void the warranty. A number of states have taken aim at restrictive rules about repairing devices with so-called Right-to-Repair bills. Apple says its decision to roll out the Horizon device is not related to these bills, but of course it would say that.

Apple has ref..

Gamer chat tool Discord secretly raised ~$50M as insiders cashed out

Gamer chat tool Discord secretly raised ~$50M as insiders cashed out

It’s been a rocky road to glory for Discord, a startup whose iPad battle arena game, “Fates Forever,” earned it a top spot at our 2013 TechCrunch Disrupt show, but wound up flopping with users.
What a difference a few years makes. After pivoting to a voice and text chat tool for video game teams and trash talkers in 2015, Discord’s current trajectory makes it one of few consumer-facing companies that’s now reaching “escape velocity,” as one of its early investors gushes.
In fact, San Francisco-based Discord has 45 million registered users on its platform, quadrupling from a year ago, with 9 million daily actives. Now Discord is aiming to become the communication layer for gaming, recently closing a competitive financing toward that end.
Index Ventures is said to have led the roughly $50 million funding round, which quietly took place in January at a pre-money valuation of $725 million, according to our sources. Institutional Venture Partners also chipped in a significant amount. And..

Rebelmail rebrands as Rebel and adds one-click checkout to its interactive email platform

Rebelmail rebrands as Rebel and adds one-click checkout to its interactive email platform

Rebel has been helping marketers do more with their emails — so that those emails become interactive experiences (with capabilities like galleries and quizzes) in and of themselves. Now the startup is adding the ability for consumers to complete their purchase from an email.
The company was previously known as Rebelmail, but as part of today’s launch, it’s rebranding as Rebel. Co-founder Joe Teplow told me that while Rebel’s current capabilities are centered on email, its ambitions are broader — he wants to bring an “immersive, interactive experience” to a range of channels that businesses use to connect with their customers.
As for the new Rebel Shop product, it seems to fulfill Rebel’s promise of turning emails into mobile storefronts. Before this, users could browse and customize different products from a retailer and then add them to their cart, all from an email on their smartphone, but they’d have to click through to the website to actually make the purchase. With these new cap..

Startups ODG and Meta One-Up Microsoft HoloLens

Startups ODG and Meta One-Up Microsoft HoloLens

After years of seeing promising augmented reality (AR) demos, I feel a bit like the boy who cried wolf each time I come back impressed and convinced the technology is about to go mainstream. The good news is that it’s getting closer. In particular, I saw impressive, consumer-focused demos from two companies with radically different histories and strategies at this year’s Augmented World Expo. I got extensive hands-on time with Meta’s new Virtual Workspace environment, as well as ODG’s R8 and R9 untethered, cinema-grade AR wearables. Here’s what I found.
Two contrasting approaches to wearable ARPhone-based AR is getting a lot of attention recently, based on the publicity around Google Tango, Apple’s ARKit, and the success of Pokémon Go. Truly immersive AR demands a wearable solution. ODG has been selling untethered glasses that provide augmented experiences for several years now. They’re in broad use across many industries, but have been a little too clumsy and expensive to attract a br..

Stem raises $8M to get music artists paid more seamlessly

Stem raises $8M to get music artists paid more seamlessly

While music streaming has become more and more commoditized, artists still have a wide array of places to distribute their songs like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music — but getting paid properly can start to complicate things.
That problem gets even more difficult when there are multiple people collaborating on the same song and it’s not clear who is getting how much of a cut from the revenue share from those services. That, on top of that the general unpredictability of an artist’s revenue, has left a hole that Stem co-founder Milana Rabkin thinks her and her co-founders startup Stem can fill. To do that, the company has raised $8 million in financing led by Evolution Media and Aspect Ventures, along with several other strategic investors and continuing participation from Upfront Ventures.
Stem works to collect the revenue from those tracks in disparate platforms and sources it into a sort of escrow. It then pays out the artists based on a previously agreed level of involvement and ..

Pinterest raises $150M at a $12.3B valuation as it makes a full press into visual search

Pinterest raises $150M at a $12.3B valuation as it makes a full press into visual search

Pinterest said today that the company has raised $150 million in additional capital at a valuation of $12.3 billion as it makes a further full-court press on its visual recognition and search pitch to investors and advertisers — and perhaps one day Wall Street.
Pinterest last raised $367 million in additional financing at an $11 billion valuation in 2015. In recent years, the company has started to tout its image recognition technology and products built on top of that — like Lens, its visual search engine built into your camera. All this is a pitch to advertisers that Pinterest can get products in front of users in different ways than Facebook and Google and eventually convert them to buyers. For example, Pinterest said its ads would soon be powered by its visual search technology at TechCrunch Disrupt New York earlier this year.
So, where is this smaller-than-you-might-expect bump for a company with 175 million users coming from? It may come from some reset expectations from the ro..

iOS 11 will help you free up storage on your iPhone through personalized suggestions

iOS 11 will help you free up storage on your iPhone through personalized suggestions

Apple is introducing a new feature in iOS 11 that will help users free up space on their iPhone by offering personalized recommendations about actions they can take to increase the available storage. The feature will go a long way towards helping all iPhone owners get better control over their phone’s storage, but will be especially useful for those who own one of Apple’s… Read More

WhatsApp embraces visuals with filters, albums, and reply shortcuts

WhatsApp embraces visuals with filters, albums, and reply shortcuts

The camera is the new keyboard, and WhatsApp refuses to be left behind. While its sister app Instagram dukes it out with Snapchat in the west, WhatsApp is popularizing visual communication around the world.
Today WhatsApp’s iOS app gets three new features, the company tells TechCrunch.

Filters – Users can now add one of five filters to their photos, videos, and GIFs from within WhatsApp so they can jazz up their imagery, or correct for poor lighting. After shooting or uploading, users can swipe to choose from pop, black and white, cool, chrome, and film filters Albums – When users send four or more photos or videos, WhatsApp will now automatically group them into an album with a tile layout. Recipients can open the album to swipe through the media full-screen Reply Shortcuts – You can reply to a specific message in a thread by swiping on it, which pops it to the bottom of the chat window where you can type a response. This is especially useful in fast-moving group chats where someon..

With iOS 11, Apple Leaves 32-bit Apps Behind for Good

With iOS 11, Apple Leaves 32-bit Apps Behind for Good

One of the advantages of Microsoft Windows is its generally excellent approach to backwards compatibility. Thanks to a mixture of virtual machine support and native OS capabilities, you can generally run x86 apps from any era in a modern system. There are exceptions to this, but backwards compatibility works very well, more often than not.
Apple, in contrast, has been aggressive about its move to 64-bit compared with 32-bit, and it’s preparing to leave 32-bit software behind altogether with its upcoming iOS 11. Google has made some moves to shift to 64-bit only as well, though its overall level of deployment lags Apple in this regard, partly because of how long it takes Google devices to receive the latest version of Android in the first place.

Thus, iOS 11 will be the first Apple OS to drop support for the 2012-era iPhone 5, the 4th-generation iPad, and the 2013 iPhone 5c, which uses the same hardware as the iPhone 5. While the iPhone 5 and 5c are slow by modern standards, the iss..

Google Increases Maximum Android Bug Bounties to $200,000

Google Increases Maximum Android Bug Bounties to $200,000

Android has a reputation for poor security, but that’s a result of past failings. Most security flaws you hear about now affect old builds of the OS, or require clever social engineering to get the user to weaken device security. The versions of Android being released now are vastly more secure than what Google was putting out years ago. In fact, no one has managed to claim Google’s largest bug bounties for Android. So, the company is increasing the rewards to as much as $200,000.
Google started the bug bounty program for Android about two years ago. It works just like other bug bounties the company has used for other products. Security researchers who can demonstrate an exploit get a cash prize, the amount of which varies based on the severity of the hack. Then, Google gets to fix the bug and avoid future security issues. Still, no one has submitted a working exploit for Android’s core components, even when such an exploit is worth $30,000-$50,000. So, by increasing the reward, Google..

Essential Phone vs. Samsung Galaxy S8: Battle of the New Flagships

Essential Phone vs. Samsung Galaxy S8: Battle of the New Flagships

Andy Rubin is famous for founding Android, which was later acquired by Google and turned into the largest computing platform on Earth. He left Google several years ago to look for new challenges, and now he’s arrived back in the Android ecosystem with a startup known as Essential. The company revealed its first phone this week after teasing it several weeks previously. The Essential Phone has a crazy edge-to-edge screen, a titanium frame, and the latest Qualcomm chip. This phone looks like it could even give the Galaxy S8 a run for its money, so let’s see how they stack up.
DisplaySamsung’s Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch curved AMOLED panel that’s taller than other phones. The 18.5:9 aspect ratio offers more space than a regular 16:9 display in this chassis would. That helps it fill more of the available space, and the edges that curve downward make it comfortable to hold. Samsung calls this an “infinity display.” The resolution is 2960 x 1440, which is among the highest available on a phone..

Qualcomm Inks Deal to Build Snapdragon 835 PCs With HP, Lenovo, Asus

Qualcomm Inks Deal to Build Snapdragon 835 PCs With HP, Lenovo, Asus

At Computex, Qualcomm announced it would build Windows 10 systems with major traditional PC OEMs. That’s a major step forward for the company, which flirted with building mobile PCs during the Windows 8 era when Windows RT (née Windows on ARM) was in development. The bulk of that market, such as it was, appears to have mostly gone to Nvidia and its Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 SoCs. Qualcomm has never worked with any of the major PC OEMs to build Windows systems, and the Snapdragon 835’s gigabit wireless support could help it stand out compared with other Windows devices in the same approximate market.
Qualcomm is claiming that these devices can deliver up to 50 percent more battery life than equivalent x86 devices, with 4-5x longer stand-by times. They’ll also build on the Connected Standby feature found in Windows PCs already, with the ability to wake up, check email or update applications, and then return to sleep.

The devices will contain Qualcomm’s X16 LTE modem, which can offer up to ..

Andy Rubin, Founder of Android, Reveals Stunning ‘Essential Phone’

Andy Rubin, Founder of Android, Reveals Stunning ‘Essential Phone’

Andy Rubin, the founder of Android, has unveiled his first phone — and it’s set to make a real impact at the very top of the industry.
The stunning Essential Phone PH-1, first reported by The Verge, is made of a combination of titanium and ceramic for extra durability. Any Rubin says the Essential Phone is “better able to withstand a drop test.” It will include an amazing edge-to-edge display with an even smaller bezel than what you’d find on the Galaxy S8. While there’s still a bit of a lip at the bottom, the 5.71-inch, 2,560-by-1,312 display (19:10 aspect ratio) goes all the way up the front panel, with just a notch for the 8MP front-facing camera.

Credit: Essential
Underneath the hood you’ll find all the latest flagship Android features like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and the courageous lack of a headphone jack, which is obviously the best feature of all because Apple said so. Around back is a dual-sensor 13MP camera, the second sensor lettin..

Samsung Demos Stretchable OLED Display

Samsung Demos Stretchable OLED Display

Samsung is one of the first manufacturers to make OLED screen technology a viable option for consumer electronics, and today it makes the best panels on the market. It’s been showing off flexible AMOLED panels for years, but now it’s demoing something new: stretchable OLEDs. Instead of simply bending and flexing, you can change the shape and size of these panels without distorting the image.
Samsung unveiled the prototype display at Display Week 2017 in Los Angeles. The OLED panel is 9.1-inches, which is in the size range for a tablet. The larger size also helps show off the impressive stretching capabilities. What sets this apart from other flexible displays shown off in the past is that it can be deformed in two directions. It can bend, but also become convex or concave.

This panel is elastic enough to recover from repeated stretching, but it’s important to remember that this is a demo. A flexible screen you sell to people needs to remain elastic for years, but this prototype onl..

DJI Says its New Spark Is the Flying Camera for Everyone

DJI Says its New Spark Is the Flying Camera for Everyone

DJI has been making drones less expensive and more powerful at a remarkable rate. But even with its latest foldable drone — the Mavic Pro — the units require a serious commitment of time and money. Even just flying them starts with a pre-flight checklist. That’s kept the drone confined to businesses and serious hobbyists, and prevented them from being the sort of immediate experience sharing device that a smartphone camera is. With its new Spark “personal drone,” DJI is hoping to change that.
The Spark is tiny for a full-featured drone, about the same size and weight as a soda can. DJI is hoping that means you’ll take it with you everywhere, ready to share your experiences and tell your stories at a moment’s notice. According to DJI, 46 percent of Americans say they want to purchase a drone this year, but aren’t quite sure why. That number sounds high to me, but whatever the number, the Spark will certainly make it more likely that they do.

The DJI Spark is all about immediacy and ..

The 5 Most Important Announcements at Google I/O 2017

The 5 Most Important Announcements at Google I/O 2017

Google has been holding its annual developer conference for ten years now, but I/O is no longer just a developer conference. It’s a place for Google to announce and show off some of its latest technologies, and talk about the future. At I/O 2017, Google announced new products powered by machine learning, some big improvements to Assistant and Google Home, and it offered up a glimpse of the future of Android in your car. Here are the five most important things announced at I/O.
Android O betaThe next version of Android moved one step closer to release at Google I/O this year. The beta for Android O was officially launched, which means you can quite easily play around with it as long as you’ve got one of the supported devices. Specifically, a Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, or Nexus 5X.

This isn’t the first we’ve seen of Android O — the alpha build was launched in March, but that was available only as a system image. To install that, your phone needed to have an unlocked bootloader, and inst..

Hackers Can Unlock Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Using Fake Irises

Hackers Can Unlock Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Using Fake Irises

For years, proponents of biometric authentication have advertised new and elaborate systems for ensuring that your computer knows it’s “really you” attempting to unlock it. For years, hackers have demonstrated that these biometric authentication systems are woefully inadequate in many situations.
They also don’t protect you in certain legal ways that passcodes or passwords do: Judges in the United States have generally ruled that you can be required to provide biometric authentication information to unlock a system, even if you can’t be compelled to turn over a password. (The distinction made here is between something you “are,” as opposed to something you may know.) Only the second case, at least so far, has been ruled as protected by the Fifth Amendment’s guard against self-incrimination.

There are, in other words, multiple reasons to consider biometric security as fundamentally insecure in and of itself. The Chaos Computer Club, which tackled the Samsung Galaxy S8, has now demon..

Samsung, T-Mobile Offer Buy-One-Get-One Free Deal on Galaxy S8

Samsung, T-Mobile Offer Buy-One-Get-One Free Deal on Galaxy S8

Most of the time, when mobile companies offer you a deal, it comes with a mountain of strings attached. In this case, Samsung and T-Mobile are teaming up to offer customers an option that’s refreshingly free of gotchas. Here’s how the deal works: You buy two new Galaxy S8 phones, activate at least one of them on T-Mobile, and Samsung issues you a rebate of up to $750 within 7-10 days of activation.
That’s it. There’s no requirement that you sign up both lines with T-Mobile, and the company is even throwing in a pair of Galaxy S8 Entertainment Kits for free. Each kit includes a standing cover for propping up a device, a 64GB SD card, and a six-month Netflix membership subscription on a two-screen plan ($10 per month). Total kit value is claimed by Samsung to be $170, and features like the Netflix subscription plan are free to both new and existing subscribers.

The only catch — and it’s not much of a catch — is that you’ll either need to pay $1,500 up front for a pair of Samsung Gala..

Apple is Lobbying Against Right-to-Repair Legislation Across the Country

Apple is Lobbying Against Right-to-Repair Legislation Across the Country

Over the past few years, there’s been a burgeoning movement to guarantee the right of citizens to repair their own electronic devices, and a rise in corporate lobbying designed to defeat these initiatives. In some cases, companies like John Deere have argued that the firmware they run on a tractor constitutes a trade secret that farmers cannot be allowed to access. Companies like Apple have tended to take a subtler route and not advertise its stance as much. But public access records in New York State reveal that the company is putting serious effort behind its push to prevent such bills from becoming law.
The Fair Repair Act under consideration in New York State “requires manufacturers of digital electronic parts to offer for sale diagnostic and repair information in the same manner as such manufacturer provides such diagnostic and repair information to such manufacturer’s repair channel; section does not apply to motor vehicles.” This is explicitly tailored not to raise the tractor q..

Google’s Android O Targets Battery Life, Likely With Mixed Results

Google’s Android O Targets Battery Life, Likely With Mixed Results

Google launched the first beta for Android O yesterday, with a bevy of improvements and changes baked into the operating system. Like Apple, Google’s OS launches go through their own cadence, with some operating systems delivering visible eye candy and visual enhancements, while other versions focus more on improving things under the hood. According to Google, Android O is more akin to the latter kind of update, with meaningful improvements to device security, battery life, and overall stability.
In his comments, Android’s VP of engineering, Dave Burke, said: “We’ve put additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates.” Documentation available online has already shed some light on what these changes are, specifically, but what we’ve found doesn’t always line up with Burke’s comments.

Implicit broadcasts: Not a battery saving issue?An implicit broadcast is a method for notifying sys..

Samsung, Intel Join FTC’s Antitrust Suit Against Qualcomm

Samsung, Intel Join FTC’s Antitrust Suit Against Qualcomm

Intel and Samsung have both joined the FTC’s lawsuit against Qualcomm, accusing the smartphone SoC and wireless modem manufacturer of engaging in practices that violate antitrust law. Fair disclosure requires me to note that Intel’s brief is impossible to read without chortling. Anyone who recalls AMD’s antitrust lawsuits against Intel may have a similar problem, given Intel’s smug dismissal of AMD’s complaints at the time, compared with the outraged tone it takes in its own court filing against Qualcomm.
According to Intel, Qualcomm has:

[M]aintained an interlocking web of abusive patent and commercial practices that subverts competition on the merits. These practices have coerced mobile-phone manufacturers (also known as “original equipment manufacturers” or “OEMs”) into purchasing the chipsets they need from Qualcomm and Qualcomm alone. The FTC’s detailed complaint documents the Qualcomm practices that have created that coercive business climate and stymied competition. Qualcomm..

Netflix No Longer Available to Rooted, Unlocked Android Devices

Netflix No Longer Available to Rooted, Unlocked Android Devices

Update: The “unlocked” devices Netflix is refusing to support may refer to bootloader-unlocked devices rather than carrier-unlocked devices. Carrier unlocking refers to the practice of allowing a device purchased from one company to run on another company’s network, while bootloader unlocking allows a smartphone to run a completely different version of Android (or in some cases, an entirely different operating system). Not all phone manufacturers lock their bootloader and some manufacturers that do lock their bootloaders don’t lock every single SKU they manufacture. It is unclear if the new Netflix app distinguishes between devices that were unlocked by the end user and devices that were purchased with an unlocked bootloader from their manufacturers. Thanks to reader Jeff Bowles for catching this possibility.
Original Story Below:

For years, Android owners who wanted a greater range of freedom when using their devices have had the option to root them. The term refers to “root acce..

Google’s Project Treble Could Speed Up Sluggish Android Updates

Google’s Project Treble Could Speed Up Sluggish Android Updates

Google releases a new version of Android at least once a year, but the overwhelming majority of users won’t see that update for many months–if they see the updates at all. Google’s own Pixel and Nexus phones get the software quickly, but everyone else has to wait for multiple parties to do their part. Google is taking a big step toward rectifying Android’s update woes with Project Treble. This is Google’s attempt to modularize Android in order to make updates faster and maintain compatibility longer.
There is currently no semblance of modularity in Android when it comes to device updates. Google releases new open source code, which is passed along to chip makers. Its up to them to create new drivers and make changes to the code, which is then passed along to device makers like Samsung and LG. They make changes to the OS for their phones or tablets, then push the update out. Although, in the US most updates have to go through carrier approval before they are deployed.

Project Treble..

Qualcomm Announces New Snapdragon 630, 600 Midrange SoCs

Qualcomm Announces New Snapdragon 630, 600 Midrange SoCs

Device coverage in the smartphone world tends to focus on high-end products, rather than midrange or upper midrange hardware. That makes sense, from a feature standpoint, since companies tend to debut new capabilities in their highest-end devices, but it misses some of the improvements that happen lower down the stack. Qualcomm’s new upper-midrange and midrange Snapdragon 600 refreshes were announced today, and both parts are a solid improvement over their predecessors.
Both the Snapdragon 630 and 660 are being upgraded with the X12 LTE modem that debuted with the Snapdragon 820 last year. You don’t need to sweat the technical details too much on this — the bottom line is that the newer modem is capable of up to 600Mbps downstream and 150Mbps upstream connectivity. The new Snapdragon 660 SoC is also an eight-core chip, with four Kryo CPU cores clocked at 2.2GHz, and four clocked at 1.8GHz. Total memory bandwidth is 29.9GBps, nearly double what the Snapdragon 650, 652, and 653 offered. ..

While No One Was Looking, BlackBerry Built a Damn Good Phone

While No One Was Looking, BlackBerry Built a Damn Good Phone

Over the past seven years, BlackBerry’s market share has slipped away, lost to Apple and Android. The company made multiple attempts to revive its own fortunes, from its oft-delayed BB 10 operating system to devices like the Z10 and Passport. Nothing stuck, including the company’s first attempt to combine a hardware keyboard and the Android operating system, the BlackBerry Priv.
Last week, reviews started to roll in on a new BlackBerry device, albeit one marketed, manufactured, and distributed by TCL rather than by BlackBerry itself. It’s the last smartphone BlackBerry intends to design on its own, and according to all the reviews we’ve seen to date, it’s a surprisingly excellent device. Engadget, PCMag, and The Verge have all published reviews of the new BlackBerry KeyOne and they’re collectively the best we’ve seen on a BlackBerry product in years.

Before we dive into the reviews, we’ll hit the basic specs. The KeyOne runs Android Nougat 7.1.1 and uses a Snapdragon 625 SoC. That’..

Google’s Mysterious Fuchsia OS Gets a Weird UI Called Armadillo

Google’s Mysterious Fuchsia OS Gets a Weird UI Called Armadillo

Google launched Android to the public in 2008, and it has since grown to be the most popular operating system on the planet. Android is still growing and bringing Google services to more consumers than ever, but what comes after Android? Google isn’t resting on its laurels — last year the first open source bits of a new Google OS called Fuchsia appeared online. Google still hasn’t explained what it’s up to with Fuchsia, but the project has continued to develop to the point that it has a new and fascinating interface.
Fuchsia is not based on Linux, as Android is. Using the Linux kernel was a perfectly reasonable decision in the early days of Android, but it has held Android back over the years. Fuchsia is based on a new Google-developed microkernel called Magenta. It was designed from the ground up to support a variety of devices and form factors with modern hardware.

When Fuchsia first appeared on GitHub last year, there was very little to go on. Compiling the OS only offered up a ..

Google Ends Android Nougat Beta, Promises Android O Beta ‘Soon’

Google Ends Android Nougat Beta, Promises Android O Beta ‘Soon’

Google released the first developer preview of the upcoming Android O update several months ago, but the Android beta program was still busy with Android 7.1 Nougat at the time. Now, Google says a full beta test of Android O will begin soon, and that means the Android Nougat beta is now closed.
The current build of Android O (which has neither a name nor a version number) is an early alpha of the platform. The only way to install it is to connect your eligible phone to a PC and use the Android SDK tools to flash the system image. It’s not terribly difficult if you’re familiar with Android, but it’s not the sort of thing average consumers should be attempting. In order to flash these images, you need to have a recent Nexus device or a Pixel. Additionally, the bootloader must be unlocked, which again requires a little setup with the SDK tools.

Google says the Android O beta is “coming soon” when you visit the Android beta program page. This is the preferred way to test upcoming versi..

Researchers Find 234 Android Apps That Track You (Poorly) With Ultrasonic Waves

Researchers Find 234 Android Apps That Track You (Poorly) With Ultrasonic Waves

Your phone has a microphone ostensibly so you can talk to people. But apps can also use your microphone to listen to the world around you. Some apps might even be using the microphone to do things you’d prefer they weren’t doing. For example, apps can employ ultrasound cross-device tracking (uXDT) to find out where you are or what you’re watching. A new analysis of Android apps finds the usage of uXDT is increasing — but this isn’t quite as doom and gloom as it seems at first.
There are a number of companies that make use of uXDT in their SDKs, including Shopkick, Lisnr, and SilverPush. Developers can integrate the SDK in their apps to listen for special ultrasonic signals outside the range of human hearing. These beacons signal to the app you are in a specific location or watching a certain commercial. Then, the data can be relayed back to a server that associates that activity with a device ID. Before you know it, someone could have a record of what you’ve been doing. Technically it..

Samsung Poised to Overtake Intel as World’s Largest Chip Maker

Samsung Poised to Overtake Intel as World’s Largest Chip Maker

Samsung makes and sells a phenomenal number of phones, computers, and other electronics. However, many devices that don’t bear the Samsung brand still have parts manufactured by Samsung in them. According to analysts, this fact is set to push Samsung past Intel to make it the world’s largest chip maker.
Intel claimed this crown in the early 1990s by dethroning NEC, and has remained in the lead ever since. This is when Intel released the original Pentium CPU, which made its way into all the top-of-the-line PCs of the day. Now, market research firm IC Insights says a quarter century of being the top dog is coming to an end. It predicts that Samsung‘s chip sales are expected to top Intel’s in the second quarter of this year, $14.6 billion to $14.4 billion. Both companies are on track to pull in about $60-70 billion from semiconductor sales in 2017. Intel might be running neck and neck right now, but the trends that have propelled Samsung ahead are not slowing down.

There are several r..

Microsoft’s $999 Surface Laptop Is a Blatant Windows 10 Store Push

Microsoft’s $999 Surface Laptop Is a Blatant Windows 10 Store Push

For the past four and a half years, Microsoft’s Surface family has done double-duty as an aspirational product platform and a high-end demonstration of what PCs are truly capable of. At the low-end, devices like the Surface 3 offered a low-cost, highly portable tablet, while high-end products like the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and Surface Studio were meant to demonstrate cutting-edge design techniques without compromising (too much) on overall performance. Surface hardware has always sold for a premium, but Microsoft has matched that premium to an implicit promise that buying Surface meant buying a machine that was a little more capable than what you could find elsewhere.
Today’s Surface Laptop kills that trend and buries it in the backyard. The Surface Laptop is… a laptop, minus most of the good things about laptops. Let’s start with the basics:

When your spec sheet makes reference to color combinations and a felt-covered “luxurious Alcatera fabric-covered” keyboard, you aren’t ex..

Windows Phone Is Dead and Surface Sales are Slipping

Windows Phone Is Dead and Surface Sales are Slipping

Microsoft announced its quarterly results last night, and the figures were generally good, with revenue of $23.6 billion (up 6%), increased operating income, and higher earnings per share. The one ugly spot was More Personal Computing — the business segment that includes Windows 10, Bing, Surface devices, Windows Phone, and the Xbox business.
Here’s how Microsoft’s CFO, Amy Hood, described the situation:

[R]evenue was $8.8 billion, declining 7 percent, as Phone and Surface results offset healthy growth in Windows, search, and gaming. Our OEM business grew 5% this quarter. OEM Pro revenue grew 10%, ahead of the commercial PC market, mainly due to a higher mix of premium SKUs…
Devices revenue declined 51 percent. We had no material Phone revenue this quarter. Our Surface business declined 26 percent and 25 percent in constant currency, as heightened price competition and product end-of-lifecycle dynamics resulted in lower than expected Surface Pro unit volumes…
[W]e expect revenue to..

Why Smartphone Speed Tests Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do

Why Smartphone Speed Tests Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do

Every time a hot new phone comes out, you will inevitably run across videos seeking to show that it’s faster or slower than some other phone. Sometimes these videos get a lot of views, and are held up by fanboys of all stripes as proof positive that their preferred phone is better than the other. These arguments aren’t going to stop happening, but the new phenomenon of speed test videos isn’t adding much to the conversation for several reasons.
The latest example of this trend is seen with the release of Samsung’s Galaxy S8. There are videos, like the one below, that pit the GS8 against the iPhone in what would appear at first to be a useful comparison. The two phones open the same apps one after another to see which one gets done first. You can learn some things from this, but not which phone is faster in daily use.

Let’s be clear, synthetic benchmarks also don’t tell you what it’s like to use a phone, but these “app races” aren’t much better. For one, no one uses a phone like thi..

Apple Refuses to Allow iPhone, Mac Recycling

Apple Refuses to Allow iPhone, Mac Recycling

There’s a pair of near-perfectly juxtaposed stories about Apple in the news today. First, Apple has released its own environmental progress report for 2017. The news here is generally good, as you’d expect from a self-prepared report, but it highlights Apple’s success in moving to fully renewable energy and to use less power across its entire product stack. Other investigations into the company’s practices, however, haven’t been so rosy.
In the report, Apple claims that it wants to move to products that are fully recyclable. The report reads:

Traditional supply chains are linear. Materials are mined, manufactured as products, and often end up in landfills after use… We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material. We already have programs in place to ensure the finite materials we use in our products are sourced responsibly through strict standards and programs on the ground that drive positive c..

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