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WhatsApp ‘Archived Chats’ Relocated, ‘Ignore Archived Chats’ Feature Spotted Testing

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WhatsApp was spotted testing a new feature called “Vacation Mode” back in October last year that would provide users with more control over archiving a conversation. While the “Vacation Mode” feature is yet to arrive, it has again been spotted in testing in the latest Android beta build of WhatsApp under the name “Ignore archived chats”. Moreover, the latest WhatsApp beta update for Android (version 2.19.101) also adds a dedicated “Archived chats” tool under the main menu on the app’s homepage. The change is now live for all users who’ve downloaded the latest WhatsApp beta update for Android.

The new beta update for WhatsApp’s Android client does not bring any major change or new features to the table. The only noticeable change is that the “Archived chats” tool can now be accessed from the home page by tapping on the three-dot icon at the top. Thanks to the relocation, users no longer have to scroll all the way down in the chat feed to locate the archived chats. Users can now tap the “Archived chats” option to access their archived chats.

As per a report by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is also testing the erstwhile ‘Vacation mode” under a new name called “Ignore archived chats”. This feature will prevent archived chats from getting automatically unarchived when a new message arrives. The “Ignore archived chats” feature can be activated by following this path: Settings > Notifications > Ignore archived chats. However, this feature is reportedly under development and is not visible to users who have downloaded the latest beta update.

Notably, the “Ignore archived chats” feature is slightly different from the “Vacation mode” that was spotted testing back in October last year. The “Vacation mode” could only prevent an archived chat from being unarchived if was muted. However, “Ignore archived chats” will prevent both muted and non-muted chats from being unarchived if they were archived in the past.


We discussed what WhatsApp absolutely needs to do in 2019, on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Google eyes TaskMate global launch after Kenya rollout – TechCrunch

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Google has today launched TaskMate in Kenya, a crowdsourcing app that lets people use smartphones to do tasks and get paid, tapping the growing gig economy. The tech giant said it has rolled out the beta version after a year-long experiment in the East African country, and is preparing to introduce it to other countries across the continent. The app is available in India too, where it’s also in the pilot stage.

TaskMate mobile app users fulfill skilled and unskilled tasks such as translation or photography for businesses – that are approved by Google to post on the platform– world-over. 

TaskMate joins a growing list of apps and services launched by Google that offer people payment for services carried out. They include a rewards app that lets people get paid for filling out surveys and local services ads that link businesses, at a fee, with clients within their vicinity.

“Today we have launched TaskMate, and it’s the first time we have opened it in Africa and across the world,” said TaskMate product manager, Mike Knapp.

The pilot started in Kenya late last year and users were able to carry-out different tasks including taking photos of plants for a research project carried out by Penn State University. ​​The app’s gigs are defined as either sitting or field tasks.

“We went to a pilot phase where we had 1000 people use the app, and they gave very positive feedback. And so now we’ve moved to the beta phase. And we’re really experimenting at a bigger level at this point,” said Knapp.

“And we’re looking for businesses and startups, to come and experiment with us on the platform, to see how this can help them solve the difficult problems that they’re working on,” he said.

Businesses posting tasks on the platform have the option of making it available to a select group of people or can invite specific people to carry it out. TaskMate users in Kenya withdraw the money earned through mobile-money payment platform M-Pesa, run by Safaricom, the biggest telecommunication company in the East Africa region.

“This is a crowdsourcing platform that simplifies the distribution and accomplishments of tasks from business, for businesses and organizations. It is also an app that provides opportunities to Kenyans, whether it’s community building or earning extra taxes. This is Google’s commitment to build for and with Africa, and its digital transformation journey,” he said. 

The launch happened as Google announced that it had disbursed $10 million in loans to help small businesses across Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa make economic recovery brought about by the COVID pandemic. Google is disbursing the loans through Kiva, a San-Francisco based nonprofit lending organization. The funding is part of the $1 billion it said a fortnight ago it will invest in Africa.

Google’s investment will include a subsea cable, which will cut across South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria and St Helena, connecting Africa and Europe. It will offer faster internet and create about 1.7 million jobs in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025 as the digital economy grows, they said.

Africa’s digital economy is expected to grow as integration continues, offering newer growth opportunities as more people get connected. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 303 million, 28 percent of the population, are currently connected to the mobile internet according to the 2021 GSMA mobile economy report. This number is expected to grow to about 40% by 2025, offering a bigger market to internet-based businesses and services such as TaskMate that are tapping internet connectivity and Africa’s youthful population.

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Clubhouse gives musicians a new high quality audio mode – TechCrunch

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Clubhouse added a new “music mode” this week, doubling down its commitment to centering social audio in all its permutations. The new music mode will give musicians who play live on the social network their own special set of tools to optimize sound quality and will hit iOS first before rolling out to Android.

Clubhouse didn’t get too into the audiophile weeds with the announcement, but the company said the new feature would allow users to “broadcast with high quality and great stereo sound” — prerequisites for a rich listening experience. The company says that music mode will also make it possible to hook pro-level audio equipment like mixing boards and mics into Clubhouse.

Image Credits: Clubhouse

In late August, Clubhouse made another investment in audio quality with spatial audio, a feature that gives listeners a sense that different speakers in one of its group audio rooms are speaking from different physical locations — an effect more akin to how we’d perceive a real-life social interaction.

To turn on music mode as a speaker, tap the three dots in the upper right corner and choose “audio quality” then select “music.” Clubhouse’s replayable clips will also support the higher quality audio in their recordings. Beyond music mode, Clubhouse is moving its search bar to the top of the feed, and users can now wave at each other through the search bar on iOS.

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Core might be the Vegas of the metaverse – TechCrunch

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A self-described “endless arcade,” Core feels like a 90s cyberpunk fever dream come to life. Half playable game library, half no-code game creator, all neon lights, the new platform is a surprisingly well-realized vision of this metaverse thing everyone sure seems to be talking about lately.

Billing itself as your “portal to the multiverse,” Core is primed to test the age-old proposition If you build it, they will come. Giant companies like Roblox and Facebook might have huge established platforms, but Core has laid some very compelling groundwork for creators and players alike.

Logging in, players are transported to Core’s central hub, a fitting cross between a theme park, a high-tech mall and a casino, with entertainment and shopping a few gravitationally unburdened strides away in every direction. Giant neon signs beckon, enticing players to hop into myriad user-generated virtual worlds. Swapping out clothing and in-game gear or inviting a friend to jump in with you takes only a few clicks and just cruising around and people watching is plenty interesting.

If Core looks a lot like Fortnite, that’s not a coincidence. Core, made by Manticore Games, runs on Fortnite-maker Epic’s Unreal engine. And those ties are even deeper: Epic led a $15 million round of investment in the company last year and the platform is exclusively available through the Epic Games Store for PC. In March, Manticore raised $100 million more from a grab bag of major investors and took its creator platform live.

Core might not be a household name yet, but it’s already nailed one of the challenges that any metaverse aspirant has to crack. In my time playing around with Core, the experience of getting from one place to another was often so seamless I wound up in the wrong place by accident. Chalk this up to user error, but instantly being transported — to a Deadmau5 show, to an overgrown dystopian wasteland, to a isometric pirate game — after walking through various portals was one of the more seamless online multiplayer experiences I’ve had more than a decade of those games.

Core looks great. That’s one strike against Roblox, one of the most successful companies building out a vision for the metaverse. Much like Fortnite, Core’s graphics are cartoony but not too cartoony. Roblox’s under-13 crowd is aging up — a factor that company is actively planning around — and those not-so-young players will be looking for a new virtual home. Any aspiring edgelord would be able to take themselves plenty seriously with Core’s wide selection of custom outfits and avatars. Or you could be a kitty.

Deadmau5, metaverse resident

Most of Core’s content is UGC, a.k.a. user-generated content, a new-ish name for an era-defining online phenomenon (don’t blame yourself if the acronym evokes mixed martial arts). But Manticore also has plenty of room to partner up with musicians and brands for elaborate themed in-game experiences.

This week, DJ and EDM festival perennial Deadmau5 launched his own, a sprawling, colorful series of experiences described as a “permanent residency in the metaverse.” Core is mostly home to user-made games, but it’s also a natural fit for entertainment and even education — the team noted that some users started hosting game development classes.

Unlike recent shows in other virtual worlds like Lil Nas X in Roblox or Ariana Grande in Fortnite, the Deadmau5-themed content will stay live after it debuts for anyone to explore. The team at Manticore likened this to how performers like Penn and Teller camp out in Las Vegas for ongoing shows, and the metaphor is very appropriate. But unlike Vegas, performers can be in two places at once: Deadmau5 also announced he’d participate in a music festival hosted on the Ethereum-based virtual platform Decentraland this week.

I watched the show with Deadmau5, né Joel Zimmerman, for an early sneak preview. He wore one of his signature giant animal helmets (I think a cat?) and cyborg angel wings, while I opted for an understated black hoodie, the little black dress of the metaverse.

“I think what drew me to it was the modularity of it all and how it gives more tools to creators,” Zimmerman told me, hopping around wildly in Core while reclining IRL in a gaming chair emblazoned with the Deadmau5 mouse.

Like we’ve come to expect from virtual concerts, the interactive performance is well-stocked with melting psychedelic visuals, mini games and a menacing Chain Chomp-esque mouse with turntable ears. Zimmerman and Core co-founders Frederic Descamps and Jordan Maynard who also ran around the show with me had seen it at least 10 times, but everyone still seemed to genuinely be having fun.

At some point I either fell into lava or got smashed on a conveyer belt by a massive metal fist while a Deadmau5-themed villain loomed nearby. “I think it’s the only interactive concert you can die in,” Maynard said. The show was visually a lot of fun, creatively interactive and ultimately a lot like concerts in Fortnite, which sets a high bar for this stuff.

The elaborate virtual experience, called Oberhasli, also showcases some unique worlds created by fans with no prior game dev experience, from an eerie jungle ruin to a spooky world full of floating space debris. The Core Deadmau5 performance kicks off on Friday at 3 PM PT. It’ll replay over the weekend and be available on demand afterward, for anyone else who’d like to be smashed into an EDM pancake.

Core for creators

Later on our call, held on Discord, the Core tour devolved into everyone running through a secret gate behind a destructible wall and world-hopping wildly through game genres, each remarkably polished for something that doesn’t require any code or game development experience. Moving from one game world to another took seconds even with a terrible wifi connection, including the time I ran through something that looked like World of Warcraft’s dark portal and wound up sailing an isometric pirate ship.

The WoW nod is probably not a coincidence. Descamps waxed nostalgic about the heyday of WoW machinima, narrative movies built through captured gameplay, like only a serious longtime player could. Descamps and Maynard also previously worked on Rift, another fantasy MMO that still commands a loyal following a decade on. (Maynard was employee number seven.) Everyone is raving about the metaverse these days, but surprisingly few companies in the space trace their roots back to the seamless virtual gaming worlds that have brought people together for years.

Core screenshot gameplay

Image Credits: Manticore

To underline how easy it is to make stuff in Core, Maynard quick-built a first-person shooter for us to play, a drag-and-drop process that took maybe two minutes of dipping into Core’s huge library of original in-game assets that were created using its system. Grab a handful of 3D objects and pick a game mode from the template choices (battle royale, racing or dungeon crawler?) and you’re most of the way to a polished-looking playable game built in Core’s modular sandbox. Setting your game in a chilly snowscape or a barren desert is also as simple as dragging and dropping, lending the environments an expansive feel.

Gameplay aside, out of the box Core games look light years better than the UGC you’d run across in Roblox, though that platform’s users have never seemed to mind. The breadth of visual styles and game genres is also mind-boggling for anyone who’s bounced out of samey UGC on other platforms.

Core users who create content have a pretty good swath of monetization options, which Manticore calls “perks.” That includes offering in-game cosmetic items, but also charging for premium games, selling Fortnite-like battle passes or implementing a subscription model. The revenue split is 50/50, which looks generous next to the 25% that Roblox passes on to creators. And in Core, like in other modular game-making platforms, everyone is a creator — no development experience needed.

Core is PC-only for now, but Manticore plans to bring it to other platforms, including iOS, starting next year. Game creation will likely stay limited to PC, but the idea is that anyone could play Core games anywhere, a platform agnostic vision that certainly boosted Fortnite early on and Roblox more recently.

“[Game development] is kind of like baking: a very precise formula, technical, can take weeks to iterate,” Descamps said. But in Core, the technical stuff gets out of the way and a process that would normally drag on can happen in minutes, leaving the rest of the time for experimentation and play.

“What if you put a portal gun into Mario Kart?” Maynard asked, and I’m fairly certain we could have found out right then.

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