Apps

WhatsApp copies Snapchat

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There’s a saying that goes “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” but Snapchat may not be feeling all too flattered after another blatant move to copy one of the app’s more popular features.

The feature, Snapchat Stories — a public compilation of snaps from a user’s day.

The culprit, Facebook. Yep, following Snapchat Stories clones finding their way to Instagram and Messenger (both Facebook properties), the world’s largest social network is bringing Snapchat’s bread and butter over to WhatsApp.

That’s some fine kage bunshin no jutsu work by Facebook. ?

Whatsapp Status

The WhatsApp Status will appear in a new tab on the app.


Using the feature is a lot like Snapchat. Simply fire up the in-app camera then take a photo or video. You can then add text, drawings, and emojis. The photo or video appears on the new status tab and is visible to your contacts for 24 hours.

The feature has begun rolling out globally to all WhatsApp users on Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone.

WhatsApp, on its blog post, claims the move is a gift to its users for its eighth birthday, noting it was time to update the status feature. However, we all know what’s going on here.

Massive users

Facebook’s move is clearly geared towards stunting Snapchat’s growth.

The numbers support Facebook’s decision to clone the feature. In less than six months, the number of people using Instagram stories daily quickly rose to 150 million, closing in on Snapchat’s 158 million daily active users.

Snapchat, who’s Initial Public Offering is scheduled on March 2nd, now has another app to worry about.

Apps

Android Messages web client goes live and gets new features

Text, images, and stickers are all supported

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Android Messages‘ much-awaited feature is finally available and it’s not the only new thing to try out. Google has five new features for users of Messages, from web support to smart replies.

The web version of Android Messages is now rolling out to users, allowing them to send and view messages on their desktop or laptop’s browsers.

Users may visit messages.android.com to access the Android Messages for web. They must also have the updated app on their phone to pair their browser with their phone. People can send stickers, emoji, and attach images aside from sending simple text messages.

The other new features of Android Messages include nifty smart replies for quick responses, instant preview of a link to an article in the conversation, built-in GIF search capabilities, and a useful shortcut for copying one-time passwords such as verification codes when logging into certain apps.

The new features, according to Google, are slowly becoming available to Android users and the rollout will continue throughout the week.

Source: Google

SEE ALSO: The future of Android messaging gets support from carriers worldwide

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YouTube Music and YouTube Premium launch in more countries

YouTube continues to expand its services

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YouTube has come a long way since it was launched 13 years ago. Google is making sure their video-sharing service continues to evolve with the introduction of YouTube Music and YouTube Premium to more countries.

YouTube Music was already launched last month in very few countries including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea. Today, it’s also making its way to the UK, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. It offers music videos, albums, singles, remixes, live performances, and covers. It’s basically a dedicated music service like Spotify or Apple Music.

The new app that’s available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store features Smart Search that finds songs intelligently by lyrics or by song name. It can still look for what you are searching even with bizarre phrases like “That space-themed Spice Girls song in the desert.” YouTube Music is ad-supported, but there’s also a premium version for US$ 9.99 per month, or US$ 14.99 for a Family Plan.

YouTube Red is now YouTube Premium, and it’s available in more countries just like YouTube Music. The Premium service of YouTube is ad-free, has background playback, and it includes all the benefits of Music Premium. Premium members also get access to all YouTube Originals, including the hit Cobra Kai. Individual subscription is priced at US$ 11.99 per month or US$ 17.99 for a Family Plan

Source: YouTube

SEE ALSO: Incognito Mode becomes available to YouTube’s Android app

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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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