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Toyota makes $1 billion investment in Grab

The ride-sharing company hopes to expand operations through the partnership

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Japanese car company Toyota Motor Corporation announced its US$ 1 billion investment plan for the ride-sharing app Grab last Wednesday. Toyota’s investment aims to improve Grab’s operations in Southeast Asia, particularly towards the app’s new features in GrabFood, GrabExpress, and GrabPay.

Grab officials stated that the investment improves their relationship with Toyota and provides better business solutions, as well. Both companies will look into new strategies towards vehicular mobility in Southeast Asia and better “online-to-offline services.” The investment also ensures that an executive from Toyota will be appointed in Grab’s board of directors, and a team member will be an executive officer in Grab.

The investment will also allow Toyota to integrate its services for driver insurance and maintenance. This means that Grab will provide incentives for its drivers to drive safely and to know when to have their vehicles checked. The two companies are also looking into the possibility of autonomous driving, although no plans have been made yet.

This is not the first time Toyota has provided financial support for the Singapore-based ride-sharing company. A year ago, Toyota funded Grab through its Next Technology Fund — an investment fund for artificial intelligence-based startups. The fund gave Toyota an opportunity to optimize the use of their cars for Grab’s services.

Source: TechCrunch

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Instagram has started borrowing features from TikTok

Instagram is looking out for inspiration

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A couple of years back, Instagram and Snapchat were involved in a brutal face-off, each wanting supremacy over the other. Thanks to Snapchat, Stories are now an integral part of not only Instagram but also Facebook and WhatsApp.

In 2019, Snapchat is no longer viewed as a threat to Instagram. A new kid on the block is challenging the status quo — TikTok. Instagram launched a new video editing tool in Brazil that copies some of the best-known features of TikTok.

Dubbed Reels, it lets you create “15-second video clips set to music and share them as Stories,” which can be shared wider via a new “Top Reels” section on the Explore page.

Per a recent tweet from engineer Jane Manchun Wong, this new tool will also let you remix other users’ Scenes if their account is public. Reels is launching today on iOS and Android but is limited to Brazil for now.

 

It’s safe to assume that Instagram is piloting the new feature because a release timeline for other regions isn’t available yet.

Instagram also has IGTV that is essentially a YouTube rival. However, short videos have been the main forte of TikTok and since the death of Vine, there has been a vacuum in this segment. With healthy funding from its Chinese parent Bytedance, TikTok has enough firepower to take on the Facebook-owned app.

In a leaked audio recording, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also expressed concerns about TikTok’s growth and dominance in certain market. He said that the Chinese company has “married short-form, immersive video with browse. So it’s almost like the ‘Explore Tab’ that we have on Instagram, which is today primarily about feed posts and highlighting different feed posts.”

Instagram previously launched a dedicated video sharing app called Lasso but failed to migrate users over from the primary app. Incorporating similar features in the Instagram app is the best way to ensure users get on board.

 

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Google Chrome will add ‘slow’ badges to shame slow websites

In an effort to optimize the internet

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Don’t you just hate slow websites? Unfortunately, despite the advance of technology, some sites are still stuck in the early 2000s. As if our data caps weren’t bad enough, some sites want to keep us waiting for ages.

To combat this inconvenience, Google is trying out a few new features for its browser, Google Chrome. One of these suggestions is a badge affixed to websites that load way too slowly.

Ideally, Google’s algorithm will aggregate a website’s loading times. If the said site doesn’t pass Google’s standards, Chrome will affix a “slow” badge displayed whenever users access the site. On the other hand, the browser might also stick “fast” badges to highly optimized sites. (Though, chances are, you probably won’t even see them before the site loads.)

Alternatively, Google might also change other indicators like the loading status bar. Regardless, the browser is toying with highly visual experiments to do the trick. Soon, it will be easier to finally see which websites will slow your device down by a few seconds.

Besides alerting users, Google’s new initiative is also meant for web developers. With a badge, development teams can see if their site is too slow for users. And, as is evident with Google’s blog post, Google is advertising their own developer tools for slow sites.

Regardless of who it’s actually for, Google’s initiative is helping optimize the internet for today’s time.

SEE ALSO: Google just launched a ‘phone’ made out of paper

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YouTube Music and YouTube Premium roll out in the Philippines

There are more options besides Spotify

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Music streaming just heated up in the Philippines — YouTube Music is now available in the country.

Google silently launched YouTube Music along with YouTube Premium. The former is a separate app from YouTube which functions exactly like its rivals Spotify and Apple Music. Its greatest strength is in its tight integration with the video streaming app itself. Listeners can watch music videos right from the app to complement their streams.

To subscribe, simply sign in with your Google account on music.youtube.com. For those who want more, YouTube Premium allows for ad-free and uninterrupted watching experience and offline watching. It comes at a monthly price of PhP 159. With this price, you’re getting more for what you’re paying with YouTube Premium + Music bundled all in.

Family subscription plans starts PhP 239 per month, for both YouTube Music and YouTube Premium for up to five family members. All plans come with a one-month free trial.

YouTube Music launched last year hoping to compete against heavy-hitters like Apple and Spotify. While it is a newcomer, it has already launched in many countries, including the Philippines.

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