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Chat app Line is adding Snap-style disappearing stories – TechCrunch

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Facebook cloning Snap to death may be old news, but others are only just following suit. Line, the Japanese messaging app that’s popular in Asia, just became the latest to clone Snap’s ephemeral story concept.

The company announced today that it is adding stories that disappear after 24-hours to its timeline feature, a social network like feed that sits in its app, and user profiles. The update is rolling out to users now and the concept is very much identical to Snap, Instagram and others that have embraced time-limited content.

“As posts vanish after 24 hours, there is no need to worry about overposting or having posts remain in the feed,” Line, which is listed in the U.S. and Japan, wrote in an update. “Stories allows friends to discover real-time information on Timeline that is available only for that moment.”

Snap pioneered self-destructed content in its app, and the concept has now become present across most of the most popular internet services in the world.

In particular, Facebook added stories to across the board: to its core app, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, the world’s most popular chat app with over 1.5 billion monthly users. Indeed, Facebook claims that WhatsApp stories are used by 500 million people, while the company has built Instagram into a service that has long had more users than Snap — currently over one billion.

The approach doesn’t always work, though — Facebook is shuttering its most brazen Snap copy, a camera app built around Instagram direct messages.

China’s top chat app WeChat added its own version earlier this year, and while it said in its earnings this week that users upload “hundreds of millions of videos each day” to its social platforms, it didn’t give numbers on its Snap-inspired feature.

Line doesn’t have anything like the reach of Facebook’s constellation of social apps or WeChat, but it is Japan’s dominant messaging platform and is popular in Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia.

The Japanese company doesn’t give out global user numbers but it reported 164 million monthly users in its four key markets as of Q1 2019, that’s down one million year-on-year. Japan accounts for 80 million of that figure, ahead of Thailand (44 million), Taiwan (21 million) and Indonesia (19 million.)

While user growth has stagnated, Line has been able to extract increase revenue. In addition to a foray into services — in Japan its range covers ride-hailing, food delivery, music streaming and payments — it has increased advertising in the app’s timeline tab, and that is likely a big reason for the release of stories. The new feature may help timeline get more eyeballs, while the company could follow the lead of Snap and Instagram to monetize stories by allowing businesses in.

In Line’s case, that could work reasonably well — for advertising — since users can opt to follow business accounts already. It would make sense, then, to let companies push stories to users that opted in follow their account. But that’s a long way in the future and it will depend on how the new feature is received by users.

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Apple urges WatchOS update after “actively exploited” flaw

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Apple has released watchOS version 7.6.1, an update the company says is important as it addresses a potential security problem. The update is available for the Apple Watch 3 and later models, with the patch arriving only days after the big 7.6 update was released to the public. Users should update their watches as soon as possible.

READ: Apple Watch Series 6 Review: Six months of Pandemic Intervention

According to Apple, the update addresses “a memory corruption issue” by introducing “improved memory handling.” The problem, the watchOS update notes, could potentially allow an app to “execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges.”

The patch notes go on to explain, “Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.”

Overall, this is a minor update for watchOS 7, which first hit Apple Watch devices back in September. If you own a supported Apple Watch model, you can update it by launching the Apple Watch app on iOS and heading into the Software Update menu. You’ll need to charge your watch’s battery before the update will start.

A few days ago, Apple released the macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 update for Mac computers that addresses the same IOMobileFrameBuffer issue. If you own a Mac that runs Big Sur, be sure to intall this update, as well, to help ensure your device’s security.

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Huawei P50 and P50 Pro pack Dual-Matrix cameras for high-end photography

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Following multiple leaks, Huawei has officially unveiled its P50 and P50 Pro smartphones. The new mobile series expands Huawei’s P Series lineup, offering consumers a high-end mobile photography experience in a sleek package. The new P50 offerings include the company’s XD Fusion Pro Image Engine alongside Huawei XD Optics and True-Chrome Shot.

Huawei puts the emphasis on the P50 Series phones’ camera capabilities, noting that the new lineup ushers in its new Dual-Matrix Camera design boasting “true to life” image quality. This is the first P Series model to feature “computational capabilities,” according to Huawei, which work at the software level to fix any optical errors introduced into the images.

Huawei claims this computational system can exceed what is possible from optical design alone, offering up to 25-percent more image detail compared to a similar setup lacking the restoration tech. Beyond that, the P50 models build upon the photo engine introduced with the P40 series, instead offering the XD Fusion Pro Image Engine with new Super HDR tech, a Super Color Filter system, and the True-Chroma Image Engine.

Among other things, Huawei boasts the P50 Pro’s camera offers what it claims is unprecedented zoom capability with a 200x range. The company says that images captured at up to 100x are “incredibly clear,” while images up to 200x still retain ample detail. Users also get ultra-wide-angle shots with a lens equivalent of 13mm, plus a macro photography capability that can focus as close as 2.5cm to an object.

As far as image recording is concerned, the P50 smartphones support up to 4K capture with full focal range support. The phones pack a new AIS Pro image stabilization system that helps keep videos clear, particularly when the user has zoomed in on a subject.

As expected, the new phones feature Huawei’s HarmonyOS 2 software launched in early June. The P50 Pro model, the most notable of the two handsets, features a 6.6-inch OLED display with up to a 120Hz refresh rate, 2700 x 1228 resolution, and 450ppi. Other features include the Snapdragon 888 4G, 8GB of memory, 256GB storage, a 13MP front-facing camera, 4360mAh battery, SuperCharge support, and an IP68 rating.

The P50 series marks Huawei’s first flagship launch featuring its HarmonyOS mobile operating system. Because of US sanctions against the company, the P50 and P50 Pro lack Google services and apps. Likewise, Huawei doesn’t include 5G support for either model, with the company’s CEO Richard Yu citing the US sanctions as the reason for this decision.

Huawei will begin selling the P50 Series in China with a starting price of around $900. It’s unclear whether the company will ever launch the phones in other markets, however.

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New Galaxy Z Flip 3 case leak shows wild, wonderful foldable future

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 leaked today in the form of a set of official Samsung protective cases. Normally this would not be a major news event, but the style and color schemes delivered with these bits of hardware have caught our attention in ways that achieve more than the average case. What better way to accentuate the unique nature of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, with its foldable display panel, than to deliver cases that wouldn’t otherwise function on a device with a more traditional form?

With the cases leaked by 91mobiles today, we see leather, clear, and silicone cases. We see spaces left open for the back or out-facing cameras, LED flash, and touchscreen. We see a keychain style hook, a fabric pull with a euro punch style hook, and we see colors that should match the first wave of Galaxy Z Flip 3 devices very nicely.

Samsung’s not one to shy away from bright colors and deep contrast in device casings or official protective cases for devices. If you’re going to pay hundreds of dollars for a smart device you’ll use every day of your life for the next several years, you’re going to want that device to be distinctive in its outward appearance, yes?

The cases shown in leaks today cover Blue, Purple, Yellow (dark yellow, almost mustard yellow), black, and possibly gold. There’s also the clear (transparent) option – as is generally the case with cases.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is expected to be fitted with a 1.9-inch display on its back (near the back-facing or out-facing camera array). It’s expected to have a 6.7-inch display inside that folds in the middle. The external camera are both tipped to be 12MP, while the inside (front-facing) camera is tipped to be 10MP.

These specifications are very similar to what’s expected of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, with its 3x 12MP cameras on the back side and 10MP front-facing camera (with another 4MP camera inside). Both devices are rumored to be released with IPX8 resistance to water.

These devices and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Watch 4 will likely appear at the next Samsung event. The Samsung Unpacked event of which we speak is set to take place on August 11, 2021. The release date for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 will very likely be mid to late August, 2021.

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