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WhatsApp Announces Stickers Rollout, Will Be Available to All Android, iPhone Users Over ‘Coming Weeks’

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WhatsApp on Friday announced that stickers will be rolling out to Android and iPhone users over the coming weeks. We were able to see the features on stable iPhone version 2.18.100, however, Android v2.18.327 didn’t yet have it. The company has also detailed how users can create their own sticker pack apps. However, if you’re an impatient Android user, and don’t yet have the functionality, you can try WhatsApp for Android beta version 2.18.329 or higher versions – we see the functionality on v2.18.330 as well.

The introduction of stickers comes after months of anticipation and some initial rumours and leaks. Alongside giving a handful of default stickers, WhatsApp has provided a dedicated Stickers Store from where you can download new sticker packs for free. There are 12 sticker packs provided by WhatsApp. Additionally, there is a link to download distinguished sticker packs directly from Google Play. You can also use stickers directly from the WhatsApp Web after you’ll get it on your smartphone.

“From emoji and camera features to Status and animated GIFs, we’re always looking to add new features that make communicating with friends and family on WhatsApp easy and fun. Today, we’re excited to introduce a new way for people to express themselves with stickers,” the company said in a blog post.

To use a sticker in one of your chats, you need to tap the emoji button from the chat bar and then tap the stickers icon from the bottom bar. There is there a history tab available to show all the previously used stickers in one place. Similarly, there is a favourites tab that includes all the stickers that you’ve marked as favourite by pressing the star option after selecting your favourite sticker in a particular chat. WhatsApp has also provided a sticker category tab from where you can select the available stickers. Furthermore, there is a plus button that takes you directly to the Stickers Store.

You can visit the Stickers Store to find appropriate sticker packs for your chats. There is an All Stickers tab that lists all the available sticker packs. You can pick one of the sticker packs. You just need to hit the download button available on the right of the sticker pack to download it on your device. Also, you can tap any of the listed sticker packs to view all its available stickers. You can additionally view all the downloaded stickers by tapping the My Stickers tab from the Stickers Store. Moreover, you can download sticker packs other than the ones listed on the Stickers Store by tapping the Get More Stickers button from the bottom of the All Stickers tab.

If you don’t want a downloaded sticker pack, you can remove it directly from the My Stickers tab available on the Stickers Store. You can also rearrange the downloaded sticker packs by holding the button available at the rightmost corner of the sticker pack. Users will also be able to create their own sticker apps for WhatsApp, to publish on Google Play and the App Store. Full details on how to do that have been provided by the company.

Apart from giving a way to have a collection of stickers to communicate with other users, WhatsApp has provided you with a way to send grouped stickers. You only need to send multiple stickers from your device and those will be available in the grouped form on the recipient’s device. This looks similar to the photo albums available on WhatsApp that come once you send multiple photos at once.

WhatsApp lets you access your stickers not just on your smartphone but also on the WhatsApp Web. You only need to access the WhatsApp Web from your browser to start using stickers that are available on your WhatsApp. If in case you won’t see stickers on the WhatsApp Web version, you need to clear the cache on your browser and then restart the webpage.

To get stickers, you need to have WhatsApp for Android beta version 2.18.329 or later. You can download the latest beta directly from the Google Play beta programme or in an APK file form via APK Mirror.

It is worth noting here that WhatsApp stickers can also be received on an iPhone after downloading However, we weren’t able to spot the ability to send stickers using the latest WhatsApp for iPhone. The rollout was first reported by WABetaInfo, which added that apart from WhatsApp for Android beta users, WhatsApp for iPhone version 2.18.100 users also have the functionality. In our testing, while that version received stickers, it didn’t have the ability to send them. That should change soon. WABetaInfo adds that users will be able receive stickers as far back as Android version 2.18.310.

Prior to the fresh update, users were able to send stickers on WhatsApp using third-party keyboards such as Gboard. But those stickers were sent as an image. Therefore, the new change is likely to encourage users to send stickers alongside communicating using voice, video, text, and GIFs on the instant messaging app that has over 1.5 billion users worldwide.

Facebook formally revealed the arrival of stickers on WhatsApp back in May, following the announcement of group video calling support on the instant messaging app at the F8 developers’ conference.

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Geek+ raises another $100M for its warehouse robots – TechCrunch

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Two things are for certain: 1) There continues to be a lot of excitement around warehouse robotics and 2) Geek+ is extremely good at raising money based on that fact. The Beijing-based warehouse robotics firm just raised another $100 million in funding, labeled a “Series E1,” with participation from Intel Capital, Vertex Growth and Qingyue Capital Investment.

The last time we wrote about the company was still fairly early on in the pandemic — June 2020 — when it had just raised a $200 million Series C. Meantime, the company raised an undisclosed Series D last year. Certainly there’s no lack of investor interest in the firm at the moment, with this most recent round valuing Geek+ at somewhere around $2 billion.

I’d say it’s probably a good idea to get funding while the funding’s good. While the space will almost certainly continue to grow, there’s likely to be a bit of a correction here, as investments respond to broader market trends. Meanwhile, Geek+ is posting impressive numbers, including $150 million in revenue last year, coupled with $300 million in orders. As pandemic waves continue to result in shutdowns in China and elsewhere, it’s easy to see why companies continue investing in these technologies.

Geek+ mentions “global expansion” as one of the primary motivators for its seeking additional funding. Notably, fellow Beijing-based firm, ForwardX Robotics expanded into the U.S. earlier this month, on the heels of its own Series C. In July, Geek+ announced deployments in both North and South America. The firm also has multiple partner deals in Europe.

“With the first-mover advantage, Geek+ has already developed a solid competitive advantage in global markets, bringing in a constant driving force for business development,” Geek+ founder and CEO Yong Zheng said in a release. “This, coupled with our three technology pillars of robotics, systems, and algorithms, has not only allowed Geek+ to develop a full product line, but also improve R&D efficiency while reducing R&D costs.”

Of course, stateside expansion finds the companies competing with an already crowded market of domestic warehouse robotics firms that offer a variety of both greenfield and brownfield solutions for automating the warehouse space. Geek+ produces a variety of different robotics systems, though at its core, the company offers a Kiva-style wheeled robot designed to cart around inventory shelves.

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WhatsApp is adding new privacy options, including screenshot blocking and a stealth mode – TechCrunch

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WhatsApp is introducing a small flurry of privacy-minded tweaks into the messaging app, the company announced on Tuesday. The Meta-owned globally ubiquitous messaging service says the changes aim to give users more control over their experience while introducing “added layers” to protect their private communications.

WhatsApp will introduce an option for users to privately use the app without being visibly online, something it calls “online presence control.” The feature, which rolls out to everyone this month, will let WhatsApp users curate which contacts can see their online status while hiding it from others. The list of contacts who can view your online status doesn’t have a cap and you can swap people in and out at any time. The company says that the update will come to both its desktop and mobile app offerings.

The company is also testing screenshot blocking for “view once” messages, which disappear after being opened a single time. WhatsApp introduced a disappearing media option a year ago, reminding users at the time that they wouldn’t be able to know if the recipient was saving any shared photos and videos as screenshots. The feature is in testing for now but the company hopes to get it out to users broadly “soon.” (It’s worth remembering that anyone can still take a photo of their screen with a different device, which should make you think twice about getting too comfy on apps with disappearing messaging.)

The last change is another small quality of life update, but a notable enough one. This month, WhatsApp will allow users to leave groups privately without sending out a mass notification that they bailed. Group admins will still get notified, but generally this change should make moving through groups on the app more fluid and less awkward. This change will also roll out to both the desktop and mobile version of the app.

WhatsApp Head of Product Ami Vora described the additions as a boost to the app’s “interlocking layers of protection,” which aim to bolster its status as a prominent encrypted messaging option.

The company has made other efforts over the years. Last fall, it closed one possible weak spot in its encrypted messaging service, adding end-to-end encryption for backups stored in the cloud.

“We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversation,” Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said of the new features.

The company’s own messaging isn’t always as tight though: A confusing privacy policy update in early 2021 prompted a backlash, sending users to rival apps. That same update is still reverberating more than a year later, and the European Commission launched a formal investigation into its concerns about the app’s consumer protections earlier this year.

 

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Big funds ‘screwing with Series A market but not seed market’ says veteran VC Mike Hirshland – TechCrunch

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Mike Hirshland is enjoying 2022. Despite the market’s zigs and zags, he has spent much of his time this past summer in Rhode Island, where relatives from afar have gathered on and off for an extended family reunion. He and partner Raanan Bar-Cohen were also able to close their fifth fund with $150 million in capital commitments at winter’s end —  ahead of the stock market collapse that would follow. Indeed, the two now have around $375 million in assets under management at their 11-year-old venture firm, Resolute Ventures.

Yet another reason to feel cheery is what’s happening at their stage of the market, where after a rapid run-up, valuations are slowly but surely coming back down to earth, suggests Hirshland. He says that while Resolute’s pace has been “remarkably consistent,” leading to roughly 10 investments each year that draw initial checks from the firm in the $1 million to $1.5 million range, the “biggest departure” in its history was last year. It was then that both round sizes and valuations ballooned, prompting the firm to write bigger checks while also forcing it to walk away from “really big, really pricey seed rounds” with valuations so lofty that Hirshland feared their next round would be problematic.

That’s not to say it’s all been a walk in the park. Some of Resolute’s best-performing portfolio companies, including Opendoor and Bark & Co., have had their struggles since going public through tie-ups with special purpose acquisition companies.

Another of Resolute’s bets, Clutter — which is also backed by Sequoia Capital and SoftBank — has also found it harder to grow its business than it might have imagined earlier. The outfit merged with a rival in February to bolster its odds of succeeding, but Hirshland, who remains “quite bullish” on Clutter, admits that it isn’t always easy to profitably “move atoms.”

What is not a concern for Hirshland, he insists, is competition. He says Resolute backs founders based largely on their vision and the firm’s belief that the team can build something compelling. (“I’m essentially indifferent if it’s day 1 or day 365, when they can show me some code,” he says.) He argues that other firms, no matter their public messaging, aren’t quite as open-minded, especially not right now.

In fact, asked about later-stage firms like Tiger Global and Insight Partners that have been shifting more of their attention to younger startups, Hirshland, talking with TechCrunch over Zoom, shrugs his shoulders. “Big funds are really screwing with the Series A market,” he says, “but in the seed market, we’re not seeing these guys come that far down.”

Even if they did, adds Hirshland, it wouldn’t last long. “You always see firms announce these big seed initiatives because when things get competitive, people move earlier. But when the shit hits the fan, they go back to focusing on their bread and butter and the cycle just continues.”

Resolute has so far invested roughly $10 million in initial checks from its newest fund. Some of its more recent investments include Signl, a startup that sells business intelligence tools to investors and whose founders sold an earlier company, Bitium, to Google in 2017.

Resolute also recently invested in Nobl9, a so-called service level objective platform whose founders also sold a previous company (Orbitera) to Google.

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