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TikTok owner ByteDance’s long-awaited chat app is here – TechCrunch

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In WeChat -dominated China, there’s no shortage of challengers out there claiming to create an alternative social experience. The latest creation comes from ByteDance, the world’s most valuable startup and the operator behind TikTok, the video app that has consistently topped the iOS App Store over the last few quarters.

The new offer is called Feiliao (飞聊), or Flipchat in English, a hybrid of an instant messenger plus interest-based forums, and it’s currently available for both iOS and Android. It arrived only four months after Bytedance unveiled its video-focused chatting app Duoshan at a buzzy press event.

Screenshots of Feiliao / Image source: Feiliao

Some are already calling Feiliao a WeChat challenger, but a closer look shows it’s targeting a more niche need. WeChat, in its own right, is the go-to place for daily communication in addition to facilitating payments, car-hailing, food delivery and other forms of convenience.

Feiliao, which literally translates to ‘fly chat’, encourages users to create forums and chat groups centered around their penchants and hobbies. As its app description writes:

Feiliao is an interest-based social app. Here you will find the familiar [features of] chats and video calls. In addition, you will discover new friends and share what’s fun; as well as share your daily life on your feed and interact with close friends.

Feiliao “is an open social product,” said ByteDance in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We hope Feiliao will connect people of the same interests, making people’s life more diverse and interesting.”

It’s unclear what Feiliao means by claiming to be ‘open’, but one door is already shut. As expected, there’s no direct way to transfer people’s WeChat profiles and friend connections to Feiliao, and there’s no option to log in via the Tencent app. As of Monday morning, links to Feiliao can’t be opened on WeChat, which recently crossed 1.1 billion monthly active users.

On the other side, Alibaba, Tencent’s long-time nemesis, is enabling Feiliao’s payments function through the Alipay digital wallet. Alibaba has also partnered with Bytedance elsewhere, most notably on TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin where certain users can sell goods via Taobao stores.

In all, Flipchat is more reminiscent of another blossoming social app — Tencent-backed Jike — than WeChat. Jike (pronounced ‘gee-keh’) lets people discover content and connect with each other based on various topics, making it one of the closest counterparts to Reddit in China.

Jike’s CEO Wa Nen has taken noticed of Feiliao, commenting with the 👌 emoji on his Jike feed, saying no more.

Screenshot of Jike CEO Wa Ren commenting on Feiliao

“I think [Feiliao] is a product anchored in ‘communities’, such as groups for hobbies, key opinion leaders/celebrities, people from the same city, and alumni,” a product manager for a Chinese enterprise software startup told TechCrunch after trying out the app.

Though Feiliao isn’t a direct take on WeChat, there’s little doubt that the fight between Bytedance and Tencent has heated up tremendously as the former’s army of apps captures more user attention.

According to a new report published by research firm Questmobile, ByteDance accounted for 11.3 percent of Chinese users’ total time spent on ‘giant apps’ — those that surpassed 100 million MAUs — in March, compared to 8.2 percent a year earlier. The percentage controlled by Tencent was 43.8 percent in March, down from 47.5 percent, while the remaining share, divided between Alibaba, Baidu and others, grew only slightly from 44.3 percent to 44.9 percent over the past year.

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Elon Musk Doubles Down On Twitter Bots, Says ‘Deal Cannot Move Forward’ Without Proof

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The Tesla chief claims that his offer to purchase Twitter was based on the company’s SEC filing, which allegedly mentioned that the percentage of spam accounts is five percent or lower, but the company hasn’t shown tangible proof of that being the case. If Musk’s latest words are to be taken at face value, he might pull out of the deal citing misleading disclosures by Twitter.

Experts claim that this is one of Musk’s tactics to strong-arm his way into lowering the deal’s final value of roughly $44 billion. Musk himself has expressed similar intentions. As per a Bloomberg report, he recently remarked at an event that lowering the price “won’t be out of the question.” “You can’t pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed,” Musk was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

Musk’s latest bombshell comes merely days after he claimed that the Twitter deal was on hold owing to the uncertainty around the spam account disclosure, but he quickly replied that he was still committed to the acquisition. A few days ago, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tried to offer some clarity on the bot situation, and how the company tries to tackle the menace. Musk, on the other hand, replied with a poop emoji on the last tweet of the thread.

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Apple Just Figured Out A Killer Use-Case For AR

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Live Captions were revealed by Apple for iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers. Deaf and hard-of-hearing users can use Live Captions on audio-only phone calls, FaceTime calls, video meetings, social media, and streaming media. The size of the font with Apple’s Live Captions feature will be adjustable for easy reading, and it’ll all also work in reverse — so to speak. Users will also be able to type responses in real-time and have their text spoken aloud to a recipient — that’s effectively text-to-speech (TTS), a feature that’s always been a fan favorite on every platform on which it’s been made available in the past. Apple suggested that the Live Captions feature will always maintain users’ privacy and that when the feature is deployed, no other users will know. Additionally, VoiceOver — Apple´s screen reader — will add 20 new locales and languages.

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The Real Life Inspiration Behind Maserati’s Famous Logo

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Since the company got its start in Bologna, Italy, Mario was inspired by a statue erected in the city’s Piazza Maggiore in the 16th century (via Mermaids of Earth). The Fountain of Neptune (aka “The Giant”) is a looming statue of the Roman god of the sea. He holds a trident in his right hand, while his left extends outward to calm the waters. Below him are four cherubs, each representing the rivers Nile, Amazon, Danube, and the Ganges. The masterpiece was created by Flemish sculptor Jean de Boulogne (aka Giambologna) between 1563 and 1567.

The statue of bronze and stone comes with an intriguing and controversial legend. Commissioned by Pius IV to symbolize his power and reign, the Pope became worried by the size of the statue’s genitals and ordered Giambologna to make them smaller. The sculptor begrudgingly complied, or so everyone thought. If you stand behind and to the statue’s right, Neptune’s thumb protrudes out past his leg in a peculiar way that makes the god’s manliness appear bigger. 

All that aside, Mario saw the Trident as a mythological symbol of strength and vigor. The red and blue colors that adorned the original logo derived from Bologna’s city banner, and the rest, as they say … is history.

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