Apps

Facebook acquires face-swapping app MSQRD

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Facebook is taking steps to keep up with Snapchat by buying Masquerade, the Belarus-based startup that built face-swapping app MSQRD. A few months back, Snapchat quietly acquired Looksery, and launched Lenses, a similar product built into Snapchat’s interface, that has since allowed users to add animated effects to their selfies.

While other selfie-enhancing apps like Perfect365 let you alter photos, MSQRD allows users to add live video filters, with effects ranging from a gorilla’s face to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-winning moment.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the acquisition by posting a MSQRD video of himself using an Iron Man filter.

Taking a break from coding to welcome the MSQRD team to Facebook!

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

“Now, we’re excited to join forces with Facebook and bring the technology to even more people. Within Facebook, we’re going to be able to reach people at a scale like never before,” Masquerade said in a blog post.

An exact rollout date has yet to be revealed, but expect live filters to appear on the Facebook app soon.

MSQRD will continue to be available as a standalone app on the App Store and the Google Play Store.

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MSQRD lets you add live face-swapping filters to your photos and videos.

This is not Facebook’s first attempt at going head to head with Snapchat. The social networking giant previously tried to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion in cash but was turned down.

It also launched Snapchat clones Poke (in 2012) and Slingshot (2014) that allowed users to share short-lived photos and videos with one another. Both apps have since been deleted on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Is this the beginning of Snapchat’s end? Or is Facebook about to face its greatest fear and become a ghost town?

Apps

TechDen helps create better and healthier screen habits

Time to pull ourselves away from those addictive screens

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I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of us spend a majority of our time staring at a screen. This is all fine and dandy, technology is awesome, but we also have to admit that our devices have changed how we interact IRL. The founders of TechDen has thought of a way to pull us away from our screens and back into the real world.

TechDen merges software and hardware to create a system that can help build healthier screen habits. The Den lets you charge and store up to two devices, and manage multiple ones. The accompanying app lets you create “sessions” of specific time periods with their own duration based on people’s schedules, as well as schedules to remotely lock and unlock the doors of The Den.

You receive notifications when devices are removed as well as time usage, and in the family setting, this system creates opportunities for collaboration — you can talk to your kids about the session schedules, and even utilize these sessions as incentives.

TechDen is marketed towards families to encourage more real-world interaction with an “out of sight, out of mind” point of view. Really though, this tech would be very helpful for anyone who wants to build a healthy relationship with their devices for themselves.

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Apps

Spotlight: What’s new with Free on Spotify?

All these new features!

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Time to rejoice, music lovers! Last April, Spotify quietly announced the new and improved Free on Spotify, and today, we got up close and personal with all the new things the app can now do.

The streaming company’s Free on Spotify redesign will make for a better listening experience for all free users. How, you may ask? Well, it all boils down to five new key features.

Pick your favorites

Spotify’s taste onboarding allows you to pick five (or more) of your favorite artists and this will set the stage for your Spotify experience — a home screen and music discovery experience tailored to your choices will await.

Pick and play… list

15 playlists will automatically be curated based on your music preferences for your listening pleasure. These playlists are different for each individual person, and they update depending on your interactions. Talk about personalized listening!

When you decide to make your own playlists, you’ll also get suggestions based on your artist choice and even playlist title.

What you want, when you want

Previously only available to Premium users, Free users now have unlimited skips — yes, you heard right! The caveat: The feature is only available for those 15 curated playlists, which isn’t half bad as those are catered to your personal taste.

All ❤️s

Actions on specific songs will help you create a better experience on the Spotify app. Hitting ❤️ on a song means it will go to Your Favorites, a playlist that’s found on your home screen.

You can also “unlike” songs which removes said offending song from future playlists. Don’t worry though, this is reversible — simply searching for the song and tapping ❤️ will undo the action.

Optimize your data

For the data-conscious, there’s now a data saving mode! This isn’t turned on by default but all you need to do is head to settings and activate it.

Happy listening!

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SafeDate gives you ease of mind going into a date

This app lets your friends keep tabs on you

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In 2005, Emma Sayle started Killing Kittens, best known for its extravagant sex parties. It aims to enable women to explore their sexuality in an open and safe space. Since it started, KK has had an incredibly strict code of conduct for their parties to ensure that women feel “empowered, safe, and confident.” Members are vetted before being admitted and there is a rule wherein only the women can approach men.

Last July, she launched the SafeDate app which puts a modern twist to what girls have been doing for years. This app lets you input information for your dates, including a profile for the person you’re going out with. You then designate a “safe friend” to whom you will have to check in with at a time which you set. If you don’t check in by the time you set, your friend will be notified and given the details of your date, and it would be up to them to decide what to do next.

Sayle told Wired that we can’t stop bad things from happening, nor can we tell people what to do. But if someone seeing the SafeDate logo makes them think twice, and women feel safer knowing that someone they trust is keeping an eye out for them, it’s a step in the right direction. We definitely couldn’t agree more!

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