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Snapchat will power Stories & ads in other apps – TechCrunch

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Snapchat has found an answer to the revenue problem stemming from its halted growth: it will show its ads in other apps with the launch of Snapchat Ad Kit and the Snapchat Audience Network. And rather than watching as other apps spin up their own knock-off versions of its camera and Stories, it will let apps like Tinder and Houseparty host Stories inside their own products that users can share to from the Snapchat camera with Stories Kit. They’ll both be launching later this year, and developers interested in monetization and engagement help can apply for access.

Snapchat debuted the big new additions to its Snap Kit at its first-ever press event in Los Angeles, the Snap Partner Summit, where it also announced a new augmented reality utility platform called Scan, and its new multiplayer games platform. More than 200 apps have already integrated the privacy-safe Snap Kit that lets users log in to other apps with Snapchat, bring their Bitmoji, view Our Stories content and share stickers back to Snapchat.

But later this year, developers will be able to earn money off of Snap Kit with Ad Kit. Developers will integrate Snapchat’s SDK, and then Snap’s advertisers will be able to extend their ad buys to reach both Snapchat users and non-users in other apps. Snapchat will split the ad revenue with developers, but refused to hint at what the divide will be, as it’s still gauging developer interest. The move is straight out of Facebook’s playbook, essentially copying the functionality and name of Facebook’s Audience Network.

There are still big questions about exactly how Snapchat will reach and track ad views of non-users, and how it will be able to provide brands with the analytics they need while maintaining user privacy. But simply by making Snapchat’s somewhat proprietary vertical video ad units reusable elsewhere, it could prove it has a scale to be worth advertisers’ time. The lack of scale has often scared buyers away from Snapchat. But Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says that “In the United States, Snapchat now reaches nearly 75 percent of all 13 to 34-year-olds, and we reach 90 percent of 13 to 24-year-olds. In fact, we reach more 13 to 24-year-olds than Facebook or Instagram in the United States, the U.K., France, Canada and Australia.”

To keep those users engaged even outside of Snapchat, it’s adding App Stories through Story Kit. Snapchat users will see an option to share to integrated apps after they create a photo or video. Those Stories will then appear in custom places in other apps. You’ll see Snaps injected alongside people’s photos when you’re browsing potential matches in Tinder. You can see what friends on group chat social network Houseparty are doing when they are not on the app. And you can see video recommendations from explorers on AdventureAide.

For now, Snapchat won’t run ads between Stories in other apps, but that’s always a possibility. We’ll have to see how long it takes Instagram and Facebook to try to copy Stories Kit and distribute their own versions to other apps.

Snap also has some other fun new integrations and big-name partnerships. Bitmoji Kit will bring your personalized avatar off your phone and onto Fitbit’s smart watches and Venmo transactions. Netflix will let you share preview images (but not trailers) from its shows to your Snapchat Story. A new publisher-sharing button for the web will let you share articles from The Washington Post and others to your Story.

By colonizing other apps with its experience, Snapchat decreases the need for them to copy it. Instead they get the original, and a lot less development work. And the platform makes your Snapchat account more valuable around the web. These integrations might not grow Snapchat too much, but it could help it keep its existing users happy and squeeze more cash out of them.

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Google launches a website version of its Read Along education app for children – TechCrunch

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Google has launched a website for its Read Along app for encouraging young children to practice reading. The website, which is introduced as a public beta, works with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers on Desktop and Android, with support for iOS and more browsers such as Safari coming soon.

The concept of the website is similar to the app: children can learn to speak languages like English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, and Urdu by reading stories using Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech text. A virtual assistant named Diya helps the children pronounce words if it detects they are struggling. Children can also ask Diya for help in speaking unknown words.

The company claimed that just like the app, all the speech recognition process takes place on the browser locally and no data is sent to its servers to protect children’s privacy. Plus, the whole experience is ad-free.

While the app had the advantage of offline usage, the website can help people who have low storage on the phone or schools that have desktop computers. One of the other major differentiators between the website and the app is that the latter works without any sign-in. The new website mandates Google account sign-ins on the same device to keep track of the progress of different children.

Google first launched the app as Bolo in India in 2019 with support for Hindi and English and renamed it Read Along with additional language support for a wider audience in 2020. The search giant noted that since its launch the app has helped more than 30 million kids read over 120 million stories.

The company said it’s partnering with new content providers to add more stories to the platform.

“In addition to the website launch, we are also adding some brand-new stories. We have partnered with two well-known YouTube content creators, ChuChu TV, and USP Studios, to adapt some of their popular videos into a storybook format,” it said in a statement.

The firm is also working India-based Kutuki learning app to adopt their English and Hindi alphabet books and phonics books for kids as stories in the Read Along app, which will be available later this year.

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WhatsApp extends time limit to delete a message to 60 hours – TechCrunch

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WhatsApp now allows you to delete a message for up to two days and 12 hours (60 hours in total), so you can remove an accidentally sent chat even after hours. Previously, this limit was 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 16 seconds — yep, there were seconds involved.

The company’s tweet about this feature just mentioned “little over two days,” but didn’t specify the 12-hour part.

WhatsApp first introduced the unsend feature back in 2017 with a time limit of just seven minutes but later increased it to one hour and eight minutes. Last year, WABetaInfo noted that the company might consider introducing a seven-day limit, but with this new update, it has chosen a rather odd time frame of two and a half days.

In comparison, rival chat app Telegram has no limit on deleting a message, so you can remove a chat years after sending it. Apple is moving in the other direction; after introducing the unsend feature for iOS 16 at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, the company reduced the limit from 15 minutes to two minutes in the fourth version of the iOS 16 developer beta last month.

WhatsApp is also introducing new privacy features to its app including blocking screenshots for “view-once messages” and the ability to leave a group silently.

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HBO Max attempts to fix its notoriously buggy app with oft-requested features – TechCrunch

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For years, HBO Max has been under fire for its buggy app. Today, the streaming service’s re-platformed app completed its global rollout on desktop, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire tablets. New features include a shuffle button on mobile, SharePlay support for iPhone and iPad users in the U.S., a dedicated home for downloaded content, and more.

With the shuffle button now on mobile devices in addition to desktop and connected TV apps, users can randomize which episode to play for select series on the streaming service. U.S. subscribers with an ad-free subscription can use SharePlay on their iPhone or iPad to watch HBO Max content in sync with friends or family while on FaceTime.

Other updates include:

  • A dedicated home for downloaded content
  • Tablet support for both landscape and portrait orientations
  • Chromecast stability improvements
  • An updated screen reader experience with better navigation elements and functionality
  • The ability to split screens with other apps on devices that allow that

The company also said that it upgraded the navigation and is giving users a “refined design and visual styling to let content shine.”

“The changes give our users more of the features they care most about, along with improved navigation and a more immersive canvas for storytelling, helping them click play on their favorite content faster and with less friction,” Kamyar Keshmiri, SVP, Product Design, Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming, said in an official statement.

The revamped mobile and desktop apps mean that the company has finished updating apps across all platforms.

The changes began last fall when the company replaced connected TV apps with a new, “more performant tech stack.” In April, HBO Max launched an updated app for Apple TV users that aimed to bring stability and improved performance to the app. Roku, PlayStation, Android, Samsung, LG, Vizio, and more smart TV apps also use the new tech stack.

With a loss of 300,000 domestic subscribers in Q2, the company has a lot of work to do. Especially since its new streaming service is coming next year, merging Discovery+ and HBO Max content. So, while the new HBO Max app will be gone in 2023, this could help the company create a better successor app and improved experience for its combined subscribers.

Also, the new app comes just in time for the “Game of Thrones” prequel “The House of the Dragon,” premiering on August 21.

 

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