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Zoom introduces virtual human avatars for users

To go along with animal-themed avatars

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Even after two years of establishing teleconferencing as a norm, it can still be hard to make yourself up and get in front of a camera. Coinciding with the emergent way to conduct business, a more anonymous way to broadcast yourself is VTubing. Melding both, Zoom is testing new avatars to help fulfill everyone’s VTuber dreams while in the office.

Today, Zoom has released a new set of avatars for users to try. Releasing in beta, users can now disguise themselves as virtual versions of themselves. The current suite of available avatars include different skin tones, hairstyles, and outfits. From first glance, the new avatars bear some resemblance to Apple’s Memoji.

Zoom hopes to increase the available customization options in the future, especially before releasing the feature out for the public. Currently, there is no timetable for an official release.

This isn’t the first suite of avatars for users. Available since early last year, Zoom also offers animal-themed avatars to keep its users more covert whenever on camera. Users can disguise themselves as anthropomorphic cats, wolves, and cows, among others.

Zoom’s system is already workable enough to capture subtle facial movements even with a less-than-professional camera. Much like VTuber avatars (albeit less detailed), Zoom can pick up subtle movements like blinking and eyebrow raising.

SEE ALSO: Zoom is working on its own email service

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Instagram possibly letting users pay for a blue badge

Copied from Twitter’s playbook

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Twitter got the internet into an uproar after implementing a way to pay for a coveted blue checkmark. Despite the controversy, other social media platforms are potentially introducing similar systems soon. As spotted in new code, Instagram has started referencing paid badges, hinting at a similar feature in the future.

First noticed by developer Alessandro Paluzzi (who spotted other unannounced developments in the past), Instagram’s coding includes mentions of an “IG_NME_PAID_BLUE_BADGE_IDV,” via TechCrunch. Additionally, Paluzzi found references to a Facebook version of the same code. To cap things off, he also discovered a few references to an upcoming subscription product from the current code.

A word of caution, though: Small references inside code might not mean much for the platform’s future plans. Paluzzi himself says that the feature is essentially unconfirmed for now, especially without a prototype.

Given the controversy surrounding the paid blue checkmark, it’s likely that Facebook and Instagram are waiting if Twitter’s experiment translates to better revenue in the long run. Though the initial Twitter Blue brouhaha simmered down for now, the new feature — along with Musk’s other changes to Twitter — are still experiments to test the new ownership’s vision for the platform.

For their part, both Facebook and Instagram have experimented with additional features to expand their offerings to their users. It’s not unheard of for either platform to draw inspiration from the winning features of other social media platforms.

SEE ALSO: Twitter reverses Facebook, Instagram ban

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Apple Music launches ‘Rihanna’s Road to Halftime’

In anticipation of Super Bowl 2023

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Apple Music Rihanna

After succeeding Pepsi as NFL’s official Super Bowl Halftime Show partner, Apple Music is pulling all the stops as it braces for its first ever show in the sports event, which features music icon Rihanna.

In anticipation of her upcoming Super Bowl LVII halftime performance in Glendale, Arizona on February 13, Apple Music has launched Rihanna’s Road to Halftime”, letting streamers experience the superstar’s music catalogue in deeply-enriched multidimensional sound.

Apple Music Radio will also be holding a Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show press conference on February 10, with Nadeska Alexis interviewing Rihanna herself ahead of her highly-awaited performance in United States’ annual sports spectacle.

An 8-episode “Rihanna Revisited Radio” will also keep fans engaged as the countdown to Super Bowl LVII continues ticking.

Even after the performance itself, Apple Music will have people covered with its Halftime Recap Radio” to wrap everything up.

Meanwhile, the new Apple Music Sing feature will also allow subscribers to take the mic and reenact Rhianna’s hits on compatible iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV 4K models.

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Controversial Netflix policy might ban users for sharing passwords

Company says plans are still unconfirmed

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Likely eclipsed only by Twitter, Netflix has gone through a ton of changes since last year. Underlying most of the new changes is a desire to curb password sharing. Now that 2023 is alive and kicking, the platform is readying its grand strategy to eliminate the phenomenon once and for all. Before the company can reveal their plans, a new report has leaked what’s coming for subscribers.

According to The Streamable, Netflix has changed its Netflix Help Center to reflect the new strategy. Based on the changes, the platform will require all profiles using a single account to be from the same primary location. If the platform detects that someone is using the account in another location, Netflix can reportedly block that user automatically.

To remain in the fold of an account, devices must sign into their home Wi-Fi every 31 days to check in. Any device who can’t do so might get blocked. Incorrect blockings can only be resolved with a call to Netflix’s support.

Now, the biggest controversy revolves around those who travel regularly. Users can reportedly request for a temporary code from Netflix to use the service in another location for seven consecutive days.

Though the changes were spotted on Netflix’s official pages, none of them have been officially announced yet. The page has been reverted to a vaguer version which only asks users in other households to have their own account. In a separate statement issued to The Verge, the company has stated that plans for subscribers (in the United States, at least) are still unconfirmed.

Still, the changed website is viewable via archiving sites like Way Back Machine. A change in the official support page might have come from a premature announcement, rejected plans, or an error.

SEE ALSO: Netflix confirms One Piece adaptation coming this year

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