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Philippines tops Facebook’s basketball game

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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.

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Digimon ReArise: A new Digimon mobile game!

It comes with an exclusive Digimon!

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Bandai Namco Entertainment just posted a teaser video for its new and upcoming Digimon ReArise mobile game. The text in the video reads, “Here is the story where your Digimon becomes a reality.”

The teaser doesn’t say much but Digimon ReArise will be a free-to-play mobile game where you’ll be working closely with a Digimon to battle against “Spiral,” — a mysterious and unexplained power. The development team describes the game as both “the adventure story of tamers and their Digimon” and “a game for looking after and training Digimon at any time.”

On top of all that, Bandai Namco finally revealed the exclusive starter Digimon you meet in the game. Created by Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru, the new Digimon is named Erismon (エリスモン). He’ll be the main focus and will be your main companion in the game. Erismon is apparently an electric hedgehog whose attacks shoot out static needles from his back.

Digimon ReArise will be out this year in Japan. While this game is in the works, you can give Digimon Links a try. Digimon Links was launched in Japan in March 2016 and in English last October.

SEE ALSO: Sky: A new jaw-dropping mobile game coming out soon!

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Spotify plans to create their own smart speaker

Is this the Apple HomePod killer?

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As smart speakers emerge from all sides, Spotify is no longer satisfied with being “just” a streaming app. New job listings confirm that the music giant is working on its own device for the future.

Based on a new job opening recently posted on its site, Spotify is looking for an “Operations Manager — Hardware Product.” The listing states that “Spotify is on its way to creating its first physical products.”

Image source: Spotify Jobs

Besides an Operations Manager, the company is also looking for a Senior Project Manager and Project Manager on the same team. All three openings confirm that dedicated Spotify hardware is in the works.

Without its own hardware, the music-streaming app relies on third-party devices to distribute its services. This business model has been Spotify’s go-to since its inception. To its credit, this model works. Spotify still rules the music-streaming food chain atop competitors like Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Amazon Music.

However, as competing brands develop their own smart speakers, the need for a Spotify-exclusive device gradually turns into a do-or-die situation. Some smart speakers today don’t even offer Spotify as a default player. If Spotify hopes to survive into the future, they have to create their own hardware brand where they don’t have to play second fiddle to the competition.

As of now, the job listings are still open. They also clarify that Spotify is still in the process of creating the team. Given that it’s still in its infancy, this mystery device remains unknown. Besides a smart speaker, it could even be a wearable. For sure, it’ll still be a while before we even get a whiff of what Spotify is cooking.

For what it’s worth, Spotify offers information that the mystery device “will impact the way the world experiences music.”

SEE ALSO: 5 steps to making the perfect Spotify playlist

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Uber plans to sell Southeast Asian arm to Grab

In exchange for Grab’s stakes

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A massive deal is brewing in Southeast Asia. After a rocky 2017, Uber is gearing up to sell its Southeast Asia operations to Singapore’s Grab.

Despite posting a whopping US$ 7.5 billion in sales last year, Uber reported an even more surprising US$ 4.5 billion in losses. Uber’s worldwide demand couldn’t offset the costs that it incurred throughout the previous year.

This makes the rumored deal between the two ride-sharing apps a timely one. Further, reports indicate that Uber is also preparing for an eventual IPO sometime next year.

Should it happen, Uber will receive a substantial stake in Grab’s company. Currently, Uber hasn’t finalized the deal yet. Reports don’t include a timeline on when (or if) this deal will conclude.

The strategic move works in favor of Uber as a business. However, it remains unclear how this will affect commuters.

Southeast Asian commuters heavily prefer the convenience of Uber and Grab, compared to the bustle of traditional public transportation. The two apps share similar popularity ratings across the region.

For its popularity, Uber is pummeled with more controversies than Grab. The earlier has already suffered from multiple cases of drivers raping passengers, taxi protests, and a recent attempt to stifle autonomous driving. The company’s long-standing CEO Travis Kalanick also resigned last year.

Despite the mounting scandals, Uber remains one of the world’s preferred ride-sharing service. Regardless of whether the proposed sale will push through, Uber continues to be a watchword in today’s transportation economy.

SEE ALSO: Five Uber app alternatives for your daily commute

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