First look at Instagram’s self-policing Time Well Spent tool

Are you Overgramming? Instagram is stepping up to help you manage overuse rather than leaving it to iOS and Android’s new screen time dashboards. Last month after TechCrunch first reported Instagram was prototyping a Usage Insights feature, the Facebook sub-company’s CEO Kevin System confirmed its forthcoming launch. Tweeting our article, Systrom wrote “It’s true . . . We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram – any time should be positive and intentional . . . Understanding how time online impacts people…

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Venmo is discontinuing web support for payments and more

PayPal-owned, peer-to-peer payments app Venmo is ending web support for its service, the company announced in an email to users. The changes, which are beginning to roll out now, will see the Venmo .com website phasing out support for making payments and charging users. In time, users will see even less functionality on the website, the company says. The message to users was quietly shared in the body of Venmo’s monthly transaction history email. It reads as follows: NOTICE: Venmo has decided to phase out some of the functionality on…

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Gmail proves that some people hate smart suggestions

Gmail has recently introduced a brand new redesign. While you can disable or ignore most of the new features, Gmail has started resurfacing old unanswered emails with a suggestion that you should reply. And this is what it looks like: The orange text immediately grabs your attention. By bumping the email thread to the top of your inbox, Gmails also breaks the chronological order of your inbox. Gmail is also making a judgement by telling you that maybe you should have replied and you’ve been procrastinating. Social networks already bombard…

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Zelle forecast to overtake Venmo this year

Despite some concerns over its adoption by scammers, new payment service Zelle is shaping up to overtake rival Venmo this year, according to a new forecast from eMarketer. The firm expects Zelle to grow more than 73 percent in 2018, to reach 27.4 million users in the U.S., ahead of Venmo’s 22.9 million. Square Cash will trail with 9.5 million users. This growth isn’t necessarily chalked up to user preference, but rather, ubiquity. Zelle is backed by a network of over 30 U.S. banks, as their means of winning over…

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Snapchat launches privacy-safe Snap Kit, the un-Facebook platform

Today Snapchat finally gets a true developer platform, confirming TechCrunch’s scoop from last month about Snap Kit. This set of APIs lets other apps piggyback on Snap’s login for sign up, build Bitmoji avatars into their keyboards, display public Our Stories and Snap Map content, and generate branded stickers with referral links users can share back inside Snapchat. Snap Kit’s big selling point is privacy — a differentiator from Facebook. It doesn’t even let you share your social graph with apps to prevent a Cambridge Analytica-style scandal. Launch partners include…

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Musical.ly kills its standalone live-streaming app Live.ly

Musical.ly is merging the functionality from its two-year old live-streaming platform Live.ly into its main app, and has disabled Live.ly’s standalone app as part of the transition process. The Live.ly app will eventually be pulled from the App Store and Google Play, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. Instead of being able to go live, Live.ly users are presented with a message about the changes, informing them that live streaming has now moved over to Musical.ly. This change is also confirmed via Live.ly’s App Store update text, which says: Live.ly is…

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Safety app Watch Out acquires paywall startup BitWall

BitWall, a Bitcoin-focused startup promising to help online publishers make money, has been acquired. Its new owner is Watch Out, the company behind an app that sends alerts about things like product and food recalls and weather-related emergencies. It’s not the most obvious acquirer, but the companies say BitWall can help Watch Out improve its data, payments and loyalty systems. “We are excited to bring BitWall into the Watch Out! ecosystem,” said Watch Out CEO Michael Lucas in the acquisition announcement. “Our mission is to provide a secure consumer-protection platform…

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Opendoor raises $325M to make buying and selling homes a near-instant process

Investors are placing another huge bet on a startup looking to reinvent a decades-old process into something that’s near instant, this time pouring $325 million into Opendoor — a company that wants to bring the complex operation of buying or selling a home down to something similarly as simple as hailing a Lyft. The idea of Opendoor is one not so dissimilar from a consumer theory that’s blossomed into companies worth tens of billions of dollars — consumers hate complex processes and are willing to hand off those processes to…

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Google brings offline neural machine translations for 59 languages to its Translate app

Currently, when the Google Translate apps for iOS and Android has access to the internet, its translations are far superior to those it produces when it’s offline. That’s because the offline translations are phrase-based, meaning they use an older machine translation technique than the machine learning-powered systems in the cloud that the app has access to when it’s online. But that’s changing today. Google is now rolling out offline Neural Machine Translation (NMT) support for 59 languages in the Translate apps. Today, only a small number of users will see the…

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