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Account linking could make Instagram the heir to Facebook Login – TechCrunch

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Teens’ aversion to Facebook jeopardizes not only the company’s feed ad revenue, but its dominance as an identity provider. The Facebook Login platform keeps people tied to the social network in order to easily access other apps without a separate username and password. But for younger users who ditch or neglect Facebook in favor of Instagram, the tech giant stands to lose one of its most powerful wedges into our lives. Meanwhile, Instagram loyalists are forced to juggle multiple sets of login credentials to manage their personal, Finsta and business accounts.

But a new feature in development could make it easy to operate multiple Instagram handles while poising the app as a successor to Facebook Login. Instagram has prototyped the “Main Account” feature that would let users set one of their profiles as a primary account and then link their other accounts to it. Logging into the main account would instantly log them in to the rest, as well. From then on, users would only need to remember a single email/username and password combo. Simpler login could get people switching accounts, posting and engaging more with Instagram.

Account linking could also power up Instagram’s existing login platform. Currently, third-party apps use it to let you compose feed posts and Stories and then share them to Instagram, or to measure the activity and mentions of business accounts. But Instagram could potentially expand the login platform to let you bring more of your identity or profile info to other apps similar to Facebook Login. That might work better if you could log in through your main Instagram account and then choose which profile you wanted to use or share back to from another app.

TechCrunch was tipped off to code for “Account Linking” in the Instagram for Android alpha version’s APK files by social media researcher Ishan Agarwal. The code explains “Quickly and securely log in to all of your Instagram accounts with one ID and password . . . Make one of your accounts your main account and use it to log in to all of your other accounts at once . . . Your accounts will remain separate but logging in will be fast and simple . . . Anyone who has the password for your main account will have access to the accounts connected to it.”

Instagram declined to comment regarding the feature. That’s standard for the company when it has prototyped something it is trying out with employees but hasn’t done any external testing. But many features first spotted in the app’s code at this stage go on to be fully rolled out, like Instagram video calling, nametags and soundtracks.

Facebook colonized the web using its login platform, scattering buttons with its logo on sites as an alternative to having to create a new account for every service. This helped grow Facebook’s user base, lock in users so it’d be harder for them to deactivate, develop new sources of feed content and gather data on what people did around the web. Many users who’ve stopped heavily posting to or reading Facebook still maintain a connection with the social network because they rely on it to log in to Spotify, Netflix and other services.

In fact, Facebook’s login platform is one of its most valuable features, where it lacks strong competition. Google runs its own identity platform, but with people increasingly using two-factor authentication and other security to protect their Gmail accounts, it can sometimes be a bit clumsy. Snapchat is trying to build up its own Snap Kit login platform with partners like Poshmark, but few mainstream apps have implemented it for account creation.

Instagram has been tinkering with other features around the concept of identity. It launched Close Friends for sharing Stories just with your besties, rolled out its own two-factor authentication option and is adding a way to syndicate your feed posts to multiple accounts you control. Getting users to establish a main account could also smooth Facebook’s plan to offer encrypted cross-app messaging between itself, Instagram and WhatsApp. Your main account might be a stand-in for your real identity as Instagram doesn’t force a real-name policy on users like Facebook does.

If you start to think of Instagram as not just a parallel social network to Facebook but as either an escape pod or heir to the throne, it’s important to consider how Facebook’s core assets will weather the transition. Recent profile redesigns have already tried to make your Instagram profile the center of your online personality. Uniting the prismatic shards of your identity through account linking could let you carry that personality with you across the web.



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U.S. shopping app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8M installs – TechCrunch

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Many U.S. consumers spent this year’s Black Friday sales event shopping from home on mobile devices. That led to first-time installs of mobile shopping apps in the U.S. to break a new record for single-day installs on Black Friday 2020, according to a report from Sensor Tower. The firm estimates that U.S. consumers downloaded approximately 2.8 million shopping apps on November 27th — a figure that’s up by nearly 8% over last year.

However, this number doesn’t necessarily represent faster growth than in 2019, which also saw about an 8% year-over-year increase in Black Friday shopping app installs, the report noted. This could be because mobile shopping and the related app installs are now taking place throughout the month of November, though, as retailers adjusted to the pandemic and other online shopping trends by hosting earlier sales or even month-long sales events.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

The data seems to indicate this is true. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 29, U.S. consumers downloaded approximately 59.2 million shopping apps from across the App Store and Google Play — an increase of roughly 15% from the 51.7 million they downloaded in Nov. 2019. That’s a much higher figure than the 2% year-over-year growth seen during this same period in 2019.

Another shift taking place in mobile shopping is the growing adoption of app from brick-and-mortar retailers. During the first three quarters of 2020, apps from brick-and-mortar retailers grew installs 27%. This trend continued on Black Friday, when 5 out of the top 10 mobile shopping apps were those from brick-and-mortar retailers, led by Walmart.

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

Walmart saw the highest adoption this year, with around 131,000 Black Friday installs, followed by Amazon at 106,000, then Shopify’s Shop at 81,000. Combined, the top 10 apps saw 763,000 total new installs, or 27% of the first-time downloads in the Shopping category.

Because the firms are only looking at new app installs, they aren’t giving a full picture of the U.S. mobile shopping market, as many consumers already have these apps installed on their devices. And many more simply shop online via a desktop or laptop computer.

To give these figures some context, Shopify reported on Saturday it had seen record Black Friday sales of $2.4 billion, with 68% on mobile. And today, Amazon announced its small business sales alone topped $4.8 billion from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, a 60% year-over-year increase, but it didn’t break out the percentage that came from mobile.

Sensor Tower and rival app store analytics firm App Annie largely agreed on the top 5 shopping apps downloaded this Black Friday. They both saw Walmart again beating Amazon to become the most-downloaded U.S. shopping app on Black Friday — as it did in 2019. The two firms reported that Amazon remained No. 2 by downloads, followed by Shopify’s Shop app, then Target. However, Sensor Tower put Best Buy in 5th place, followed by Nike, while App Annie saw those positions swapped.

Image Credits: App Annie

The rest of Sensor Tower’s top 10 included SHEIN, Sam’s Club, Klarna, then Offer Up, while App Annie’s list was rounded out by SHEIN, Sam’s Club, Wish, then Offer Up.

The pandemic’s impact may not have been obvious given the growth in online shopping this year, but the recession it triggered has played a role in how U.S. consumers are paying for their purchases. “Buy Now, Pay Later” apps like Klarna were up this year, even breaking into the top 10 per Sensor Tower’s data. The firm also noted that many new shopping apps launched this year focused on discounts and deals and retailers ran longer sales this year, as well.

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Qualcomm announces the new Snapdragon 888 chip – TechCrunch

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Qualcomm kicked off an all-virtual version of its annual summit this morning by announcing the launch of the the Snapdragon 888 platform. The chipmaker is clearly saving some key information for later in the virtual event, because it has yet to reveal a ton about its next SoC.

We do, however, have an extremely modest quote from Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon to go on: “Creating premium experiences takes a relentless focus on innovation. It takes long-term commitment, even in the face of immense uncertainty. It takes an organization that’s focused on tomorrow, to continue to deliver the technologies that redefine premium experiences.”

Granted, that’s more self-congratulatory than legitimately helpful. We do know that some key device makers have signed up to include the chip on future handsets, including ASUS, Black Shark, LG, MEIZU, Motorola, Nubia, realme, OnePlus, OPPO, Sharp, vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE.

Also, Qualcomm when ahead and blew past the expected 875. The company tells TechCrunch,

8 has always been a special number for Snapdragon. For over a decade, the number 8 has stood for premium. The Snapdragon 8-series is comprised of our premium tier mobile platforms, which is where we debut our latest technology innovations that will power the next generation mobile experiences. Year after year, these advancements are not only firsts for Snapdragon, but also for the mobile industry. Especially this year, 5G is rapidly expanding globally and creating new experiences and new opportunities, which are far beyond the industry’s expectation. Snapdragon is the platform of choice to deliver those 5G experiences to more consumers worldwide.

The number 8 is also a lucky number around the world. For some, it signifies infinity, success or inner wisdom, while for others it symbolizes luck. For example, in India the number 8 is known as Ashtha, Asta, or Ashta in Sanskrit and is the number of wealth and abundance. While in Chinese numerology 888 is a representation of triple luck.

So, not dissimilar from moves we’ve seen from handset makers like OnePlus. Naturally, 5G is on board. The chip will sport the company’s third-gen X60 5G modem, which sports both sub-6 and mmWave 5G bands. There’s also a 6th-gen AI Engine, capable of performing 26 tera operations per second (TOPS) with improved power efficiency.

Imaging is, naturally, a big piece of the puzzle, as well. The 888 features an up to 35% faster ISP, with support for up to 2.7 gigapixels per second (~120 12-megapixel photos). Gaming performance has also been improved, courtesy of an update to its Elite Gaming platform. More info — including the first few smartphones to sport the new SoC — soon, no doubt.

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Google Play’s Best of 2020 Awards highlight the stressful year it’s been – TechCrunch

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Continuing its annual tradition, Google today announced its Best of 2020 awards — the company’s list of the best apps, games, movies and books for the year. Not surprisingly, the top apps picked by both Google Play users and editors reflect the stressful year that 2020 has been, with a top sleep app, Loóna, winning the title of “Best App” of 2020. Meanwhile, Google Play users picked streaming service Disney+ as their choice.

Loóna is a fitting app to win the award this year. The sleep aid promises a mood-altering experience that helps its users deal with the negative emotions that accumulate during the day and are then processed during sleep. As anxiety and stress grow, people’s sleep patterns and REM sleep be disrupted, Loóna explains. To combat this, its app offers nightly “sleepscapes,” that combined activity-based relaxation, storytelling and sounds to help people shut out their stress and relax.

Unlike other sleep or meditation apps where users close their eyes and drift off, Loóna is intended to help people wind down while still on their phones. Users tap to color images while the sleep story plays. The company also this year introduced music playlists, called soundscapes.

Image Credits: Loóna

In October, the company reported its app — which is also available on iOS — was seeing daily average time spent of 34 minutes from its subscribers. And its average conversion rate from trial to paid subscriber was 52.5%. With version 2.0, Loóna plans to reposition its app from being solely focused on bedtime relaxation to become a broader mood management app that also covers the sleep to wake up cycle, among other things. It also plans to add personalized content recommendations.

In addition to Loóna, Google Play editors selected the free-to-play action role-playing game Genshin Impact as the year’s best game for giving players a “wondrous world to explore” while unraveling mysteries. The game, miHoYo’s first-ever open-world game, features battles with elemental magic, character switching, and gacha game monetization for obtaining new characters, weapons, and other additions.

Google Play users, however, selected SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off as the year’s best game.

Another app that benefitted from coronavirus lockdowns was Disney+, which won this year’s User’s Choice award for Best App. The streaming service helped families stuck at home to keep their kids entertained. Plus, with new shows like the “The Mandalorian,” the service has been a hit for adults in the family, too.

In addition to the top winners, Google gave a shout-out to a few other notable titles in its announcement, including Chris Hemsworth’s training app Centr, behavioral modification app Intellect, as well as games like The Gardens Between, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, and Sky: Children of the Light.

The Play Store also awarded various gaming subgenres with awards of their own, like best competitive games, best indies, best pick up and play, and best game changers. These winners include Brawlhalla, Bullet Echo, GWENT: The Witcher Card Game, Legends of Runeterra, The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, Cookies Must Die, GRIS, inbento, Maze Machina, Sky: Children of Light, Disney Frozen Adventures, DreamWorks Trolls Pop, EverMerge, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, Fancade, Genshin Impact, Minimal Dungeon RPG, Ord., and The Gardens Between.

Other top apps won awards in categories like best everyday essentials, best for personal growth, best hidden gems, best for fun, and best apps for good. These app winners include Calmaria, Grid Diary, The Pattern, Whisk, Zoom, Centr, Intellect, Jumprope: How-to Videos, Paird: Couples App, Speekoo, Cappuccino, Explorest, Loóna, Paperless Post, Tayasui Sketches, Bazaart, Disney+, Dolby On, Reface, Vita, GreenChoice, Medito, and ShareTheMeal.

Movies that won “Best of” for 2020 included Bill & Ted Face the Music, Just Mercy, Miss Juneteenth, Onward, and Parasite; while book winners included A Promised Land by Barack Obama, The City We Became by N.K. Jesmin, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, and You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria,

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