Snapchat will shut down Snapcash, forfeiting to Venmo

Snapcash ended up as a way to pay adult performers for private content over Snapchat, not just a way to split bills with friends. But Snapchat will abandon the peer-to-peer payment space on August 30th. Code buried in Snapchat’s Android app includes a “Snapcash deprecation message” that displays “Snapcash will no longer be available after %s [date]”. Shutting down the feature will bring an end to Snapchat’s four-year partnership with Square to power the feature for sending people money.
Snapcash may have become more of a liability than a utility. With apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, and Square Cash itself, there were plenty of other ways to pay back friends for drinks or Ubers, so Snapcash may have seen low legitimate usage. Meanwhile, a quick Twitter search for “Snapcash” surfaced plenty of offers of erotic content in exchange for payments through the feature. It may have been safer for Snapchat to ditch Snapcash than risk PR problems over its misuse.

TechCrunch tipster Ishan Agarwal provided the below screenshot of Snapchat’s code to TechCrunch. When presented with the code and asked if Snapcash would shut down, a Snapchat spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that it would, explaining: “Yes, we’re discontinuing the Snapcash feature as of August 30, 2018. Snapcash was our first product created in partnership with another company – Square. We’re thankful for all the Snapchatters who used Snapcash for the last four years and for Square’s partnership!” The spokesperson noted that users would be notified in-app and through the support site soon.

Snapcash gave Snapchat a way to get users to connect payment methods to the app. That’s increasingly important as the company aims to become a commerce platforms where you can shop without leaving the app. Having payment info on file is what makes buying things through Snapchat easier than the web and draws brands to use Snapchat storefronts.
We’ll see how Snapchat plans evolve its commerce strategy without this driver. Earlier this month, TechCrunch revealed that Snapchat’s code contained mentions of a project codenamed “eagle” that’s a camera search feature. It was designed to allow users to scan an object or barcode with their Snapchat camera and see product results in Amazon. But since our report, mentions of Amazon have disappeared from the code. It’s unclear what will happen in the future, but camera search could give Snapchat new utility and monetization options.
Snapcash won’t be a part of that future, though. Given Snapchat’s cost-cutting efforts including layoffs, its desperate need to attract and retain advertisers to hit revenue estimates its missed, and its persistent bad rap as a sexting app, it couldn’t afford to support unnecessary features or another scandal.


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Snapchat will shut down Snapcash, forfeiting to Venmo

Here are some of the movie and TV trailers to come out of San Diego Comic-Con 2018

Over the course of a weekend we got a glimpse at some of the coming seasons and movies for various sci-fi, superhero, and other types of highly-anticipated fan-favorite franchises from the San Diego Comic-Con this year.
Here’s a quick selection of some of the ones shown over the weekend:
Aquaman

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Godzilla: King of Monsters

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Disenchantment

Arrow: Season 7

Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2

Doctor Who

Nightflyers

Titans

The Walking Dead: Season 9

Black Lightning

Young Justice

Legacies

Star Trek: Discovery — Season 2

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

The Flash

Supergirl

Glass

Shazam

The Gifted

Legacies


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Here are some of the movie and TV trailers to come out of San Diego Comic-Con 2018

Wilson is like Longreads for podcasts

Meet Wilson, a new iPhone app that plans to change the way you discover and listen to podcasts. The company describes the app as a podcast magazine. It has the same vibe as Longreads, the curated selection of longform articles.
With its minimalistic design and opinionated typography, Wilson looks like no other podcasting app. On an iPhone X, the black background looks perfectly black thanks to the OLED display. It feels like an intimate experience.
Every week, the team selects a handful of podcast episodes all tied together by the same topic. Those topics can be the Supreme Court, the LGBTQ community, loneliness, dads, the World Cup…
Each issue has a cover art and a short description. And the team also tells you why each specific podcast episode is interesting. In other words, Wilson isn’t just an audio experience. You can listen to episodes in the app or open them in Apple Podcasts.
Navigating in the app is all based on swipes. You can scroll through past editions by swiping left and right. You can open an edition by swiping up, and go back to the list by swiping down. This feels much more natural than putting buttons everywhere.
Wilson also feels like tuning in to the radio. Podcasts are great because they let you learn everything there’s to learn about any interest you can have. But it also narrows your interests in a way. Podcast apps are too focused on top lists and “you might also like” recommendations.
Gone are the days when you would switch on the radio and listen to a few people talk about something you didn’t know you cared about. Human editors can change that. That’s why Wilson can be a nice addition to your podcasting routine.


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Wilson is like Longreads for podcasts

The World Cup led to a record-breaking number of app downloads and consumer spend in Q2

The second quarter of 2018 was another record-breaker for mobile app downloads and revenue. According to a new report this week from App Annie, there were over 28.4 billion app downloads worldwide across both iOS and Google Play in the quarter, up 15 percent year-over-year. That number is even more remarkable because it doesn’t include reinstalls or updates – only new app downloads. In addition, consumer spending in apps was up 20 percent year-over-year to reach $18.5 billion across iOS and Google Play combined.
This is the most money spent in apps compared with any other quarter before, the report notes, topping the prior quarter’s record-breaking $18.4 billion in app revenue, and 27.5 billion downloads.
Much of the download activity in Q2 came from Google Play.
On its app marketplace alone, global downloads topped 20 billion, up 20 percent year-over-year and widening the gap between itself and iOS by 25 percent points to 160 percent. (See below).

This massive download growth is attributable largely to India, says App Annie .
The country was the biggest driver of download growth year-over-year in both absolute values and growth in market share. Indonesia also played a big role in Google Play downloads.
Meanwhile, the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia saw the largest growth in iOS downloads.
In particular, Google Play app downloads included growth in categories like games, video players and editors, and – not surprisingly, given the World Cup – sports applications. And on iOS, Sports apps were also the largest driver of global iOS downloads, followed by Finance and Travel apps.
The impact on the 2018 FIFA World Cup on sports app downloads was also highlighted last month by Sensor Tower, whose own analysis found that new installs of the five leading live TV on demand apps offering channels with the World Cup grew 77 percent during the first week of World Cup coverage, compared with the three preceding weeks (excluding the NBA Finals period).
Sports streaming service fuboTV saw the largest impact, growing at a whopping 713 percent and adding 309K new users in the U.S., while Hulu saw the smallest impact at 18 percent growth.
Single network apps grew, too, this earlier report said. FOX Sports downloads increased by 95x for the same period, while Telemundo Deportes En Vivo grew 444x, for example.
App Annie added that the top 3 sports apps in Android in the U.S. during the first three weeks of the tournament were Telemundo Deportes (#1), FOX Sports GO (#2), and FOX Sports (#3), in terms of average megabytes per user – an indication of users’ live-streaming activity. The apps were also new entrants to the top 10 list of apps by total time spent, compared with the three weeks directly prior.
In the U.K., over 6 million hours were spent in the top 10 sports apps on Android during the first 3 weeks of the World Cup, up 65 percent from the 3 weeks prior.
The World Cup also had an impact on consumer spending in apps in the quarter.

Sports apps on iOS were the third largest contributors to absolute growth in consumer spend and in market share in Q2, while Entertainment and Productivity apps were numbers one and two, respectively. In-app subscriptions for both Sports and Entertainment apps drove the consumer spending increases.
On Google Play, Games, Social, and Music & Audio apps saw the largest download growth, quarter-over-quarter.
However, despite the downloads and consumer spending in sports and TV apps, the charts of the top 10 apps by worldwide downloads and consumer spending look a lot like they usually do – with Facebook apps dominating the top 10 by downloads (Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were the top  4).
And the top 10 apps by spending were still largely those subscription-based entertainment services like Netflix, Tencent Video, iQIYI, Pandora, Youku, and YouTube.


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The World Cup led to a record-breaking number of app downloads and consumer spend in Q2

Dish is the first TV provider to offer support for Apple’s Business Chat

Dish today announced it’s becoming the first TV provider to offer customer support over Apple’s Business Chat. Launched earlier this year, Business Chat allows companies to communicate with their customers over iMessage in order to answer questions, provide customer service, or even enable purchases. In Dish’s case, the TV provider says its customers can use Business Chat to reach a live agent with their questions, make account changes, schedule an appointment, and more.
They can even use their credit card in Business Chat to order a pay-per-view movie or sporting event, then watch it within minutes of confirming the purchase, Dish says.
This feature takes advantage of Apple Pay, which lets you quickly make purchases using your stored payment information without having to leave the iMessage conversation.
Business Chat is as secure as placing a call, where customers would have had to provide information to identify themselves as the account holder. As Dish explains, Apple Business Chat doesn’t display the customer’s contact information to the agents, so customers can choose if they want to share that information themselves. They’re also in control of authenticating their account, if they want to make changes or purchases.
“TV should be simple, so we’ve made reaching our live customer service representatives as easy as sending a text,” said John Swieringa, Dish’s chief operating officer, in a statement about the launch. “Adding messaging with Apple Business Chat is a powerful way to connect with us, giving another choice so you can pick what fits with your life.”
Business Chat is a direct attack by Apple on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Today, businesses tend to set up Facebook Pages and often offer customers the ability to reach out over Facebook’s Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp with questions. Twitter has also entered the customer service business, allowing businesses to respond to customers over tweets and DMs. Business Chat offers companies an alternative to social media, with the advantage of having access to Apple Pay built-in. (Facebook, meanwhile, hasn’t established itself as a payments company nor does much of its user base keep their payment information on file with the company. The same goes for Twitter.)
In addition, operating over iMessage means businesses get even closer with their customers – their conversations are in the same Messages app as chats with friends and family, not in a third-party app. And Apple isn’t interested in profiting from data collection. Its main goal is to sell more devices, which in turn allows it to sell more of its own services to users, like iCloud storage and Apple Music.
That said, it’s not likely that businesses will abandon their social media presence for Business Chat, so it may end up being just one more place for them to check – albeit one with an install base of hundreds of millions.
Dish is one of the earlier adopters for Business Chat. Other companies on the platform include Aramark, Discover, Four Seasons, Harry & David, Hilton, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marriott, NewEgg, T-Mobile, TD Ameritrade, Wells Fargo, 1-800-Flowers, and, of course, Apple.
To chat with Dish via Business Chat on iPhone or iPad (iOS 11.3 or higher), customers search for “Dish” then tap the Messages icon that appears next to the Dish search result. They can also open chat from the contact page of their MyDISH app, where they manage their Dish TV account.


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Dish is the first TV provider to offer support for Apple’s Business Chat

Facebook, Google and more unite to let you transfer data between apps

The Data Transfer Project is a new team-up between tech giants to let you move your content, contacts, and more across apps. Founded by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the DTP today revealed its plans for an open source data portability platform any online service can join. While many companies already let you download your information, that’s not very helpful if you can’t easily upload and use it elsewhere — whether you want to evacuate a social network you hate, back up your data somewhere different, or bring your digital identity along when you try a new app. The DTP’s tool isn’t ready for use yet, but the group today laid out a white paper for how it will work.
Creating an industry standard for data portability could force companies to compete on utility instead of being protected by data lock-in that traps users because it’s tough to switch services. The DTP could potentially offer a solution to a major problem with social networks I detailed in April: you can’t find your friends from one app on another. We’ve asked Facebook for details on if and how you’ll be able to transfer your social connections and friends’ contact info which it’s historically hoarded.

Facebook shouldn’t block you from finding friends on competitors

From porting playlists in music streaming services to health data from fitness trackers to our reams of photos and videos, the DTP could be a boon for startups. Incumbent tech giants maintain a huge advantage in popularizing new functionality because they instantly interoperate with a user’s existing data rather than making them start from scratch. Even if a social networking startup builds a better location sharing feature, personalized avatar, or payment system, it might be a lot easier to use Facebook’s clone of it because that’s where your profile, friends, and photos live.
If the DTP gains industry-wide momentum and its founding partners cooperate in good faith rather than at some bare minimum level of involvement, it could lower the barrier for people to experiment with new apps. Meanwhile, the tech giants could argue that the government shouldn’t step in to regulate them or break them up because DTP means users are free to choose whichever app best competes for their data and attention.


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Facebook, Google and more unite to let you transfer data between apps

WhatsApp limits message forwarding in bid to reduce spam and misinformation

In a bid to cut down on the spread of false information and spam, WhatsApp recently added labels that indicate when a message has been forwarded. Now the company is sharpening that strategy by imposing limits on how many groups a message can be sent on to.
Originally, users could forward messages on to multiple groups, but a new trial will see that forwarding limited to 20 groups worldwide. In India, however, which is WhatsApp’s largest market with 200 million users, the limit will be just five. In addition, a ‘quick forward’ option that allowed users to pass on images and videos to others rapidly is being removed from India.
“We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” the company said in a blog post.
The changes are designed to help reduce the amount of information that goes viral on the service, although clearly this isn’t a move that will end the problem altogether.
The change is in direct response to a series of incidents in India. The BBC recently wrote about an incident which saw one man dead and two others severely beaten after rumors of their efforts to abduct children from a village spread on WhatsApp. Reportedly 17 other people have been killed in the past year under similar circumstances, with police saying false rumors had spread via WhatsApp.
In response, WhatsApp — which is of course owned by Facebook — has bought full-page newspaper ads to warn about false information on its service.
Beyond concern about firing up vigilantes, the saga may also spill into India’s upcoming national general election next year. Times Internet today reports that Facebook and WhatsApp plan to introduce a fake news verification system that it used recently in Mexico to help combat spam messages and the spreading of incorrect news and information. The paper said that the companies have already held talks with India’s Election Commission.


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WhatsApp limits message forwarding in bid to reduce spam and misinformation

Samsung and Xiaomi had record smartphone shipments in India

India has quickly become ground zero for the smartphone wars. Last year, the country surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s No. 2 smartphone market, and manufacturers are falling over themselves to plant a flag.
Samsung and Xiaomi have been the two biggest winners in recent quarters, battling it out for the top spot. Earlier this year, the latter edged out the former, but the battle has remained neck and neck for the huge — and growing — market. According to new numbers from Canalys, both companies shipped 9.9 million smartphones for Q2 2018.
Xiaomi held onto the top spot — though just barely, with Samsung growing 47 percent year-over-year. That’s the Korean manufacturer’s biggest growth spurt in the country since late-2015. Look, here’s a graph.

Combined, the two manufacturers comprise 60 percent of shipments in India for the quarter. Vivo and Oppo round out the top four, making Samsung the only non-Chinese company vying for a top spot. The company announced recently that it will be doubling down its efforts in the country with a factory it’s deemed the world’s largest.
ASUS has seem some growth in the country, as well, tripling since the previous quarter. Apple’s shipments, meanwhile, have dipped around 50 percent year-over-year, according to the firm, as the company adjusts its strategy in the country.
“Apple’s paring back of distributor partners and move to a ‘brand-first, volume-next’ strategy will reap rewards as it will ensure better margin per device,” says Rushabh Doshi of Canalys. “Getting priorities right will be important to smartphone vendors, and it will be a choice between profitability and volume growth.”


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Samsung and Xiaomi had record smartphone shipments in India