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Apple updates iOS 12 beta one more time as launch nears

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Apple on Thursday released the iOS 12 developer beta build number 10, and build number 8 for public beta participants.

The update comes on the heels of Monday’s beta 9, and beta 7 update for developers and public beta testers, respectively. On the iPhone X, the update was just shy of 70MB, indicating very few changes.

It’s not often Apple releases 10 beta builds of an upcoming OS, with last year’s beta of iOS 11 being the only other time it occurred.

The build numbers for iOS 12 are misleading, however, as Apple original released and then pulled iOS 12 beta 7 within a few hours due to performance issues.

The latest release could very well be the last release we see from Apple ahead of its anticipated iPhone event, currently rumored to take place on Sept. 12. The company typically announces new iPhones and releases the final test version – often referred to as the GM build – of the latest iOS update at that time.

iOS 12 brings new features to help users monitor and limit how much time he or she spends on an iPhone or iPad, a new animated character feature called Memoji that uses the iPhone X’s front-facing camera, and a Siri Shortcuts.

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Twitter Blue introduces ‘Labs’ to give users early access to new features – TechCrunch

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Twitter is rolling out a new feature called ‘Labs’ for Twitter Blue, its premium subscription service. Labs will give Twitter Blue subscribers early access to features that Twitter is testing as a part of that bundle, which is currently only available in Canada and Australia.

Now, Labs subscribers now have the ability to upload videos that are up to 10-minutes long from their desktop. Standard users currently only have the option to upload videos that are up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds long. Additionally, iOS users can now swipe to pin their favorite conversations to the top of their direct message inbox.

Twitter says features that are released via Labs may eventually roll out to the rest of Twitter, become a static feature of Twitter Blue, or be scrapped altogether based on feedback it hears from subscribers.

“Labs also provides an opportunity for other internal product teams to submit features, get early quantitative and qualitative data, and then later release to a wider audience. What’s featured in Labs will change as we develop new features,” the company said in a statement.

Twitter had said last month it planned to be more experimental as it released new products, noting that it would share its progress publicly along the way and scrap ideas that didn’t work — as it recently did with Fleets.

“We believe that if we’re not winding things down every once in a while, then we’re not taking big enough bets,” said Twitter Head of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour at the time.

In Canada and Australia, a Twitter Blue subscription currently costs $3.49 CAD or $4.49 AUD, respectively. The subscription gives Twitter users access to premium features, including tools to organize bookmarks and an “Undo Tweet” feature, which seems to be the closest thing Twitter will offer in relation to the long-requested “edit” button. Twitter Blue also comes with a reader mode feature.

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Hinge launches a new ‘Voice Prompts’ feature to give users a new way to interact – TechCrunch

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Hinge is rolling out a new ‘Voice Prompts’ feature to give its users a new way to connect with their matches. Voice Prompts will allow users to answer a prompt through a 30-second voice recording. The new feature is rolling out globally starting today.

Hinge says the new feature allows people to give others a glimpse into their personality and perhaps hint at what a first date would be like. The feature will prompt users to discuss a certain topic or share a specific fun story. For instance, the prompts may ask users to discuss their biggest date fail or share a random fact that they love.

The company says 65 percent of its users say they believe hearing someone’s voice would help them determine interest in a match, as 75 percent of users said it’s difficult to feel connected with a match when their conversation is limited to just text and photos.

Hinge also plans to launch a new ‘Voice Notes’ feature later this fall. Voice Notes will make it possible for users to have a conversation that captures their personality while messaging each other. Hinge says both Voice Notes and Voice Prompts will allow people to better showcase who they are at different points in their dating journey.

Additionally, Hinge is updating its algorithm to help non-binary users better represent themselves while connecting with others on the app. To do this, Hinge will offer a “non-binary” gender category to ensure that their gender is acknowledged.

It’s worth noting that Hinge isn’t the only dating app to add voice features, as audio options are becoming more popular in the space. For instance, Bumble and Happn both have voice note features. Additionally, a new app called String lets users only communicate through voice notes. It’s clear that dating apps are looking to leverage the convenience of voice notes to retain and garner more users, as the feature takes away the awkwardness of a phone call but takes the conversation a step further than texts.

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Instagram now lets all users share links in Stories via Link Stickers – TechCrunch

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Instagram announced on Wednesday that all users now have access to its Link Sticker feature in Instagram Stories. The expansion comes as the company recently ditched the “swipe-up” link in Instagram Stories in favor of the new Link Stickers. Both the previous “swipe-up” link and new Link Stickers have been historically limited to businesses and high-profile creators.

The company says link sharing is helpful in many ways to accounts of all sizes and types, which is why it’s expanding access to enable everyone to share what they want in their Stories. In the past, link sharing has been largely used by creators and businesses to direct their viewers to a website to learn more about a product, read an article, sign up for a service, and more.

“We made this decision based on feedback we heard from the community about how impactful it would be for creators and businesses of all sizes to benefit from link sharing to grow in the same way larger accounts do,” Instagram said in a statement.

You can access the feature by selecting the sticker tool from the top navigation bar when you capture or upload content to your Story. After selecting the “Link Sticker,” you can add your chosen link and then tap “Done.” From there, you can place the sticker anywhere on your Story and tap on it to see the other color variations.

Instagram previously noted that the decision to expand Link Sticker access to everyone had to be made carefully, as it could impact the app’s integrity and safety. For instance, if Link Stickers were to be adopted by bad actors, they could be used to spread misinformation or post spam. It’s worth noting that accounts that share misinformation and hate speech will be blocked from using Link Stickers.

Today’s expansion is the first step in broadening access to link sharing on Instagram for all users. It’s worth noting that Instagram still doesn’t allow direct linking in posts, which is why “link in bio” platforms like Linktree, Shorby, and Linkin.bio have become popular over the past few years. However, with this latest expansion, users now have an additional way to share links through their accounts.

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