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WhatsApp Stickers Now Official Along With a Dedicated Stickers Store

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After months of anticipation and some initial rumours and leaks, WhatsApp has now finally brought stickers. The sticker integration is initially limited to WhatsApp for Android beta version 2.18.329, though you can also receive stickers after updating WhatsApp on your iPhone to version 2.18.100. 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.

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.

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 WhatsApp for iPhone version 2.18.100. However, we weren’t able to spot the ability to send stickers using the latest WhatsApp for iPhone. Folks at WABetaInfo report that the feature is rolling on iPhone slowly, though it is designed to work on all iPhone models running iOS 7.0 and later. 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. “Voice and video calling are very popular on WhatsApp, and we’re excited to share that group calling will be coming in the months ahead. Stickers are also coming to WhatsApp soon,” the company had said in a blog post.

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Twitter shuttering NY, SF offices in response to new CDC guidelines – TechCrunch

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Just two weeks after reopening its New York and San Francisco offices, social media giant Twitter said Wednesday that it will be closing those offices “immediately.”

The decision came “after careful consideration of the CDC’s updated guidelines, and in light of current conditions,” a spokesperson said.

“Twitter has made the decision to close our opened offices in New York and San Francisco as well as pause future office reopenings, effective immediately. We’re continuing to closely monitor local conditions and make necessary changes that prioritize the health and safety of our Tweeps,” the spokesperson added.

The company initially just reopened those offices on July 12. It declined to reveal headcount per office.

The CDC this week recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid transmission rates amid concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant.

Earlier today, TechCrunch’s Brian Heater reported that Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company will require employees to be vaccinated before returning to work on-site. It was part of a larger letter sent to Google/Alphabet staff that also noted the company will be extending its work-from-home policy through October 18, as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep through the global population.

In a message to TechCrunch, Facebook’s VP of People, Lori Goler, confirmed a similar policy for the social media behemoth.

Amazon also responded to TechCrunch’s inquiry on the matter, noting, “We strongly encourage Amazon employees and contractors to be vaccinated as soon as COVID-19 vaccines are available to them.”

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Snapchat adds My Places feature to Snap Map, recommending spots to visit – TechCrunch

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As more people are venturing out into the world this summer (safely, we hope!), Snapchat wants to make it easier for people to find restaurants, stores, parks and other interesting spots in their neighborhood. Today, Snapchat is starting to roll out the My Places feature on its Snap Map, which connects users with over 30 million businesses. Users can log their favorite spots, send them to friends, and find recommendations.

My Places has three main tabs: visited, favorites and popular. Visited lists places you’ve checked into on Snapchat, and favorites saves, well, your favorites. But the popular tab is particularly interesting because it marks the first time that Snapchat is using an algorithm to provide personalized recommendations to help people engage with the world around them. The algorithm considers where you are, what you’ve tagged or favorited already, and where your friends and other Snapchatters have visited.

This further differentiates the social-forward Snap Map from more established resources like Google Maps and Apple Maps, which you can’t really use to find out what restaurants your friends like. Sure, Snapchat can’t give you directions to that trendy sushi bar, but it’s not meant to, just like how Google Maps isn’t meant to show you what bar all your friends went to without you last night.

Image Credits: Snapchat

Snapchat shared survey results indicating that its users are more likely on average to engage in “post-pandemic” activities (is that a good thing?) and added that 44% of Snapchatters turn to the Snap Map to find places around them that they’re interested in.

With over 250 million monthly active users on Snap Map, the company announced an update in May called Layers, which lets partner companies add data directly to their own map. So far, Snapchat has collaborated with Ticketmaster and The Infatuation, a restaurant recommendation website — these partnerships help users see where they can find live entertainment, or what great restaurants are hidden in plain sight. Snapchat plans to further integrate Layers into Snap Map and My Places later this year.

Last week, Snap announced that during Q2 this year, it grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates it has achieved in the last four years. Year over year, the app grew 23%.

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Facebook warns of ‘headwinds’ to its ad business from regulators and Apple – TechCrunch

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Facebook posted its second quarter earnings Wednesday, beating expectations with $29 billion in revenue.

The world’s biggest social media company was expected to report $27.8 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 50 percent increase from the same period in 2020. Facebook reported earnings per share of $3.61, which also bested expectations. The company’s revenue was $18.6 billion in the same quarter of last year.

In the first financial period to really reflect a return to quasi-economic normalcy after a very online pandemic year, Facebook met user growth expectations. At the end of March, Facebook boasted 2.85 billion monthly active users across its network of apps. At the end of its second quarter, Facebook reported 2.9 billion monthly active users, roughly what was expected.

The company’s shares opened at $375 on Wednesday morning and were down to $360 in a dip following the earnings report.

In spite of a strong quarter, Facebook is warning of change ahead — namely impacts to its massive ad business, which generated $28.5 billion out of the company’s $29 billion this quarter. The company specifically named privacy-focused updates to Apple’s mobile operating system as a threat to its business.

“We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, which we expect to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter,” the company stated its investor report outlook.

On the company’s investor call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed to Facebook’s plans to reduce its reliance on ad revenue, noting the company’s expanded efforts to attract and support content creators and its e-commerce plans in particular. “We want our platforms to be the best place for creators to make a living,” Zuckerberg said, adding that the company plans to monetize creator tools starting in 2023.

Zuckerberg also emphasized Facebook’s grand aspirations for social experiences in VR. “Virtual reality will be a social platform, which is why we’re so focused on building it,” Zuckerberg said.

No matter what Facebook planned to report Wednesday, the company is a financial beast. Bad press and user mistrust in the West haven’t done much to hurt its bottom line and the company’s ad business is looking as dominant as ever. Short of meaningful antitrust reform in the U.S. or a surging competitor, there’s little to stand in Facebook’s way. The former might still be a long shot given partisan gridlock in Congress, even with the White House involved, but Facebook is finally facing a threat from the latter.

For years, it’s been difficult to imagine a social media platform emerging as a proper rival to the company, given Facebook’s market dominance and nasty habit of acquiring competitors or brazenly copying their innovations, but it’s clear that TikTok is turning into just that. YouTube is huge, but the platforms matured in parallel and co-exist, offering complementary experiences.

TikTok hit 700 million monthly active users in July 2020 and surpassed three billions global downloads earlier this month, becoming the only non-Facebook owned app to do so, according to data from Sensor Tower. If the famously addictive short form video app can successfully siphon off some of the long hours that young users spend on Instagram and Facebook’s other platforms and make itself a cozy home for brands in the process, the big blue giant out of Menlo Park might finally have something to lose sleep over.

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