On March 17, Facebook secretly rolled out Messenger Madness, named after one of the most popular annual sporting events in the United States – March Madness. It’s a hidden virtual basketball game inside the Messenger app. Activating the game is simple: use the basketball emoji in any Messenger conversation and tap on it afterwards.
Several virtual layups and dunks later, Facebook said the Philippines tops the list of countries with the most Messenger Madness sessions in the world.
View the full infographic to see who else in the world ranked in the top 10:
The virtual basketball game has been played nearly 700 million times and took place in as much as 61 million different conversations on Messenger. Around 57% of all sessions had high scores between 1 and 10 points and only 1% got to 31 points or more.
It’s worth noting that every 10 points increases the game’s difficulty. Once the user reaches 10 points, the rim starts to move sideways, after 20 points it moves even faster, lowering the user’s chances at scoring. A missed shot would also reset the score back to zero.
The high score in each conversation is shown on the upper right side of the screen. No award is given to the high scorer of each conversation though, but he/she earns bragging rights.
[irp posts=”8888″ name=”Facebook lets you add color to status updates now”]
Instagram is using facial recognition AI to verify your age
For kids of the early 2000s, the biggest lies everyone told were whenever websites asked if they were 18 years old. Because of how limited technology was, a website’s age prompt was about as useful as blowing into a flat tire. Now, the internet has more tools at its disposal. Marking the next step in this evolution, Instagram is testing a tool that supposedly identifies a user’s age by scanning their face.
Though it’s not readily apparent with the number of children who have social media accounts, Instagram is one of those sites that require users to be at least 13 years old. But, like those old websites from yesteryear, the policy isn’t really useful for keeping children out.
Now, as reported by The Verge, Instagram wants to make the platform more secure. When a teenager wants to change their age to 18 years old or older, the app will prompt them to verify their age using one of three verification methods — at least in the United States.
The first method is simpler: submitting photos of official ID cards. The second method is a bit more complex: asking three of the user’s above-18 followers to verify the age change. On the other hand, the third uses an AI tool called Yoti.
With Yoti, users can submit a video of themselves for verification. Artificial intelligence will then analyze facial details, taking sex and race into consideration, to estimate the user’s age.
Naturally, it’s not a perfect system. There are ways to bypass it, including using someone else’s face. Regardless, it’s a bigger evolution than just simple yes-or-no prompts.
Android used a Drake song to diss Apple
Google doesn’t like the green bubble
iPhone users have a certain term for Android users: the green bubble. Though it’s more known among Apple users, it’s become such a huge thing now that pop culture already makes references to it. And, due to its prevalence, Apple’s main rival, Google, has just used a popular song to diss Apple.
Users who don’t usually interact with the iPhone ecosystem might not know about the term, though. The term “green bubble” refers to how Android is visually represented on Apple’s system. Whenever an Android user joins a conversation on iMessage, the speech bubble’s color turns from the traditional blue to green. It’s become a popular way to discriminate against Android users.
— Android (@Android) June 18, 2022
On a more technical level, the change is a result of the two systems using different messaging standards. While Google uses RCS, Apple uses a proprietary system to send text and media to each other. When the two interact, Apple’s system detects this and conveys it with the green bubble.
Released in an album last Friday, Drake’s new song “Texts Go Green” takes a light-hearted approach to the phenomenon. And naturally, Google is all for it. In an unofficial lyric explainer video on their official Twitter account, Android called on Apple to fix the issue and adopt RCS.
As of late, Apple has been called out for refusing to play ball with the others in the industry. In the European Union, the company is facing an impending decree to adopt USB-C across all its devices to contribute to a universal standard in the region.
SEE ALSO: Here’s what’s coming in Android 13
What I’ve been waiting for: An integrated Starbucks digital experience
Earning Stars through Grab and Lazada? Sign me up!
Hold up! Starbucks is expanding its Rewards program, as part of the company’s digital innovation initiatives for this year and beyond.
Earlier this year, Starbucks Philippines announced its expansion to digital services to enhance the coffee experience. The company launched its rehashed in-app feature called Mobile Pay & Order 2.0, and a partnership with Grab, Lazada, and GCash.
Now, the coffee company wants to push for a more connected future.
An integrated partnership with Grab
Earlier this year, Starbucks announced an integrated partnership with Southeast Asian superapp Grab. The partnership aims to provide a more seamless experience across Grab’s six Southeast Asian markets.
First in the market is the Philippines, where Starbucks is bringing the experience starting on June 23, 2022. Through the Grab superapp, customers can connect to their Starbucks Rewards program and earn 1 Star for every PhP 40 spent on Starbucks orders.
If you’re a member of the Starbucks Rewards program, you’d know that every 100 Stars collected can be converted to a free Starbucks beverage or food reward, redeemable in stores.
With the partnership, customers will be able to enjoy the Starbucks experience through Grab’s services:
- Pay your orders via GrabPay e-wallets both online and in-store
- Order online for in-store pick-up via GrabFood
- Instant delivery via GrabExpress using GrabFood’s self-pick-up feature
Together with Lazada
It’s not just Grab, though. Back in February, Starbucks announced the expansion of its Rewards program through Lazada. Rewards members can link their accounts to Lazada and start earning Stars — the same way as Grab — for every purchase from the Starbucks LazMall Flagship Store.
To link a Starbucks Rewards account, members can click the ‘Member’ tab found in the Starbucks LazMall Flagship Store. Sign-in using a registered Starbucks Rewards email and password, and voila!
Gifts for your loved ones
Previously, Starbucks teamed up with GCash to allow customers to order and send eGifts through GLife, starting at PhP 300. As the company expands its digital services, eGifting is also now available through GrabGift, starting at PhP 100.
eGifts from GLife can be used to pay in Starbucks stores. Meanwhile, eGifts from GrabGifts can be used to purchase orders from Starbucks on GrabFood.
FoodShare is here to stay
Starbucks FoodShare, a program established in the United States a few years ago, made its way to the Philippines early this year. The program capitalized on Starbucks and Grab’s partnerships, where participating stores can connect with Grab drivers to pick up and deliver food donations daily.
Donations are donated to the Philippine Food Bank Foundation, a local non-profit organization, to be distributed to select beneficiaries within Metro Manila.
The program started with 40 stores in Metro Manila and has expanded to 238 stores as of writing. To date, Starbucks FoodShare has served over 50,000 meals. The company is looking to make the program a long-term commitment, with the goal of expanding the program to stores outside Metro Manila and hopefully, serving more communities.
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