You might think it’s redundant with Instagram Stories, or just don’t want to see high school friends’ boring lives, but ephemeral Snapchat-style Stories now have 500 million daily users across Facebook and Messenger. WhatsApp’s Stories feature Status has 500 million dailies too, and Instagram hit that milestone three months ago. That’s impressive, because it means one-third of Facebook’s 1.56 billion daily users are posting or watching Stories each day, up from zero when Facebook launched the feature two years ago.
For reference, Stories inventor Snapchat has just 190 million total daily users.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new stats on today’s Facebook Q1 2019 earnings call, which showed it’s user growth rate had increased but it had to save $3 billion for a potential FTC fine over privacy practices.
Facebook isn’t just using Stories to keep people engaged, but to squeeze more cash out of them. Today COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that 3 million advertisers have now bought Stories ads across Facebook’s family of apps. I’d expect Facebook to launch a Stories Ad Network soon so other apps can show Facebook’s vertical video ads and get a cut of the revenue.
Facebook’s aggressive move to clone Snapchat Stories not just in Instagram but everywhere might have pissed users off at first, but many of them have come around. If you give people a place to put their face at the top of their friends’ phones, they’ll fill it. And if someone dangles a window into the lives of people you know and people you wish you did, you’ll open that window regularly.
Samsung opens beta on Galaxy Upcycling to breathe new life into old phones – TechCrunch
Samsung announced Galaxy Upcycling a few years back, but has largely been quiet on that front, aside from some stage time at CES back in January. Today the company announced that Upcycling at Home is being opened to beta today for users in the U.S., Korea and the U.K.
It’s a pretty novel program, in a world where consumers are encouraged to scrap their old devices every two to three years for something shiny and new. The program is designed to breathe new life into handsets that might otherwise be tossed in a landfill or stashed away in a drawer.
“We are rethinking how we use existing resources, and we believe the key to upcycling is to enable solutions that transform old technology into something new by adding value,” VP Sung-Koo Kim said in a release tied to the news. “We are committed to integrating sustainable practices into our day-to-day lives, and through Galaxy Upcycling at Home, users can join our journey toward a more sustainable future.”
Specifically, the products can be revamped into smart home devices, like childcare and pet monitors.
The feature can be accessed within the SmartThings Labs feature found in Samsung’s SmartThings App. When enabled, the product can send alerts when things like a crying baby or barking dog are detected. The recorded sound will be sent as part of the alert. Another feature uses built-in sensors to turn on a room’s lights when things get dark. The service will optimize device battery so it can operate for an extended period while detecting these inputs.
UK’s IoT ‘security by design’ law will cover smartphones too – TechCrunch
Smartphones will be included in the scope of a planned “security by design” U.K. law aimed at beefing up the security of consumer devices, the government said today.
It made the announcement in its response to a consultation on legislative plans aimed at tackling some of the most lax security practices long-associated with the Internet of Things (IoT).
The government introduced a security code of practice for IoT device manufacturers back in 2018 — but the forthcoming legislation is intended to build on that with a set of legally binding requirements.
A draft law was aired by ministers in 2019 — with the government focused on IoT devices, such as webcams and baby monitors, which have often been associated with the most egregious device security practices.
Its plan now is for virtually all smart devices to be covered by legally binding security requirements, with the government pointing to research from consumer group “Which?” that found that a third of people kept their last phone for four years, while some brands only offer security updates for just over two years.
The forthcoming legislation will require smartphone and device makers like Apple and Samsung to inform customers of the duration of time for which a device will receive software updates at the point of sale.
It will also ban manufacturers from using universal default passwords (such as “password” or “admin”), which are often preset in a device’s factory settings and easily guessable — making them meaningless in security terms.
California already passed legislation banning such passwords in 2018 with the law coming into force last year.
Under the incoming U.K. law, manufacturers will additionally be required to provide a public point of contact to make it simpler for anyone to report a vulnerability.
The government said it will introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Commenting in a statement, digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman added: “Our phones and smart devices can be a gold mine for hackers looking to steal data, yet a great number still run older software with holes in their security systems.
“We are changing the law to ensure shoppers know how long products are supported with vital security updates before they buy and are making devices harder to break into by banning easily guessable default passwords.
“The reforms, backed by tech associations around the world, will torpedo the efforts of online criminals and boost our mission to build back safer from the pandemic.”
A DCMS spokesman confirmed that laptops, PCs and tablets with no cellular connection will not be covered by the law, nor will secondhand products. Although he added that the intention is for the scope to be adaptive, to ensure the law can keep pace with new threats that may emerge around devices.
Watch Apple’s Spring Loaded event light right here – TechCrunch
Today, Apple is holding a (virtual) keynote at 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris). And you’ll be able to watch the event right here as the company is streaming it live.
Rumor has it that Apple plans to unveil a brand new iPad Pro. In particular, Apple’s tablet could get a big display update as the company could switch to mini-LED displays. You can expect some better specifications as well.
But that’s not all, we expect to see a refreshed iPad mini. Apple could also be ready to release AirTags after many months of rumors and leaks. As always, the only way to find out is by watching the event.
You can watch the live stream directly on this page, as Apple is streaming its conference on YouTube.
If you have an Apple TV, you don’t need to download a new app. You can open the Apple TV app and find the Apple Events section. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old ones.
And if you don’t have an Apple TV and don’t want to use YouTube, the company also lets you live stream the event from the Apple Events section on its website. This video feed now works in all major browsers — Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.
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