Архив метки: Australia

Spotify’s leanback instant listening app Stations hits iOS

Spotify has launched its instant listening app Stations on iOS, but only in Australia for the time being. The release comes nearly a year and a half after the Stations app first arrived on the market, initially for Android users in Australia. Dubbed an “experiment,” the app allows users to jump right into streaming instead of having to curate their own playlists or stations, or save favorite music to their library.
Unlike Spotify’s flagship application, the Stations app presents users with a minimalist interface where available playlists are displayed with an oversized font. You can scroll up and down between the playlists to select one, instead of typing in a search box or searching through voice commands.
When launching Stations, music begins playing automatically — a feature that had some calling it a “Pandora copycat” at the time of launch, given that instant music playback is something that Spotify’s rival Pandora already supports.

Stations was largely designed for those who want a more radio-like experience that involves less manual input. Free users will hear ads, be able to thumbs up and down songs, but can’t skip tracks. Premium users who download Stations get unlimited skips and ad-free listening.
The Stations app today features a range of playlists by genre, decade, activity and more, but also becomes personalized to the end-user over time. You can also opt to create your own stations by selecting from favorite artists in an experience that’s reminiscent of the customization offered today by YouTube Music — right down to the rounded artist profile photos you tap on.

As you listen to music on Stations, you can thumbs up and down songs in order to have it create custom stations personalized to you — including a Discover Weekly playlist, Release Radar and a Favorites playlist.
Not much had been heard about Stations since its January 2018 debut. And its limited release — it never hit the U.S., for example — could have indicated it was an experiment that didn’t quite pan out.
But it now seems that’s not the case, given the new expansion to iOS.
By offering the app to more users, Spotify has the chance to learn and collect data from a larger and more representative group of people. Whether or not it takes any ideas from Stations to its main app remains to be seen.
The company declined to comment on its plans, when asked.
“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience,” a spokesperson said. “Some of those tests end up paving the path for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning. We aren’t going to comment on specific tests at this time,” they added.
Stations is live now on iOS in Australia. More information on the app is on the (newly updated) Help site here.

Spotify’s leanback instant listening app Stations hits iOS

To stop copycats, Snapchat shares itself

Evan Spiegel has finally found a way to fight back against Mark Zuckerberg’s army of clones. For 2.5 years, Snapchat foolishly tried to take the high road versus Facebook, with Spiegel claiming “Our values are hard to copy”. That inaction allowed Zuckerberg to accrue over 1 billion daily Stories users across Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook compared to Snapchat’s 186 million total daily users. Meanwhile, the whole tech industry scrambled to build knock-offs of Snap’s vision of an ephemeral, visual future.
But Snapchat’s new strategy is a rallying call for the rest of the social web that’s scared of being squashed beneath Facebook’s boot. It rearranges the adage of “if you can’t beat them, join them” into “to beat them, join us”. As a unified front, Snap’s partners get the infrastructure they need to focus on what differentiates them, while Snapchat gains the reach and entrenchment necessary to weather the war.
Tinder lets you use Snapchat Stories as profile photos
Snapchat’s plan is to let other apps embed the best parts of it rather than building their own half-rate copies.
Why reinvent the wheel of Stories, Bitmoji, and ads when you can reuse the original? A high-ranking Snap executive told me on background that this is indeed the strategy. If it’s going to invent these products, and others want something similar, it’s smarter to enable and partly control the Snapchatification than to try to ignore it. Otherwise, Facebook might be the one to platform-tize what Snap inspired everyone to want.
The “Camera company” corrected course and took back control of its destiny this week at its first ever Snap Partner Summit in its hometown of Los Angeles. Now it’s a camera platform thanks to Snap Kit. Its new Story Kit will implant Snapchat Stories into other apps later this year. They can display a more traditional carousel of your friends’ Stories, or lace them into their app in a custom format. Houseparty’s Stories carousel shares what your buddies are up to outside of the group video chat app. Tinder will let you show off your Snapchat Story alongside your photos to seduce potential matches. But the camera stays inside Snapchat, with new options to share out to these App Stories.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel presents at the Snap Partner Summit
This is how Snapchat colonizes the native app ecosystem similarly to how Facebook invaded the web with the Like button. Snap’s strong privacy record makes these partners willing to host it where now they might fear that Facebook and its history with Cambridge Analytica could tarnish their brand.
Instead of watching these other apps spin up mini competitors that further fragment the Stories world, Snap saves developers the slow and costly hassle while instantly giving them best-in-class tools to boost their own engagement. Each outpost makes your Snapchat account a little more indispensable, grants its camera new utility, and reminds you to visit again. It’s another reason to stick with Snap rather than straying to other versions of Stories.
If Spiegel knows what’s up, he’ll douse the Story Kit partnerships team with resources so they can sign up as many apps as possible before Facebook can copy this idea too. For now, Snap isn’t injecting ads into App Stories, but it could easily do so and split the cash with its host. This would attract partners, generate revenue, and give Snap’s advertisers more reach.
Houseparty embeds Snapchat Stories
Either way, Snap will score those benefits with its new Ad Kit. Later this year the Snapchat Audience Network will launch allowing partners to host Snap’s full-screen vertical video ads and earn an as-yet-undisclosed revenue share. They won’t have to build up an ad sales force or build an auction and delivery system, but just drop in an SDK to start displaying ads to both Snapchat users and non-users. The company’s message again is that it’s becoming easier to cooperate with Snapchat than copy it.
Snap’s new ad network
Giving its advertisers more reach and reusability for Snap’s somewhat proprietary ad unit format helps Snap address its core challenge: scale. Snap’s 186 million total users can look small in comparison to Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, especially since that count sank in Q2 and Q3 before stabilzing in Q4 of last year. That makes it tougher for advertisers to justify the chore of spending on Snapchat. Ad Kit and potentially Story Kit give Snap more reach even without user growth.
Added size could tip the cards in Snap’s favor given it’s already popular with an extremely important demographic. Snapchat now reaches 75 percent of 13 to 34-year olds in the US, and 90 percent of 13 to 24-year olds there. It claims to now reach more of that younger age group than Facebook in the most lucrative countries: the US, Canada, UK, France, and Australia.
Facebook has massively neglected this segment. Case in point: Facebook Messenger’s Stickers feature that’s popular with kids has hardly improved since its launch in 2013, which I hear was a fight to get approved internally. Meanwhile, Snapchat keeps growing its lead on virtual identity with Bitmoji. Now Snap will let you put your personalized Bitmoji avatar on your FitBit smart watch face, use them to joke about Venmo purchases, and even represent yourself with one in Snap’s new multiplayer games platform.
Again, Snap wants partners to integrate the real thing rather than try to build some half-assed facsimile of Bitmoji. Surprisingly, Facebook’s Avatars have been mired in development for over a year and Apple’s Memoji can’t escape iMessage and FaceTime yet. That’s why Snapchat would be wise to double-down on trying to make Bitmoji the ubiquitous way to represent yourself without a photograph. Facebook’s lack of design cool and Bitmoji’s massive head start with this differentiated product is a powerful way for Snap to wedge itself into partnerships.

Snap needs all the help it can get if the underdog is going to carve out a substantial and sustainable piece of social networking. Teaming up was the theme of the rest of the Snap Partner Summit. It’s built ways for Netflix, GoFundMe, VSCO, and Anchor to share stickers and for publishers like the Washington Post to share articles back to Snapchat. It’s got Zynga and ZeptoLab building real-time multiplayer Snap Games that live inside chat and are a clever way of slipping ads into messaging.
Snapchat’s new Scan augmented reality utility platform has signed up Giphy and Photomath as well as former partners Shazam and Amazon to let you squeeze extra interactivity out of your surroundings. And since the physical world is too vast for any one developer to fill with AR experiences, Snap beefed up its Lens Studio platform with new templates and creator profiles so developers add to its warchest of 400,000 special effects. Facebook may be able to clone Snap’s features, but not its developer army.
“If we can show the right Lens in the right moment, we can inspire a whole new world of creativity” says Snap co-founder Bobby Murphy . From partnerships to utilities to toys, all the new announcements drive attention back to Snapchat’s camera. That makes it ripe to become the augmented reality browser of the world.

It all feels like a coming of age moment for Snapchat, punctuated by the glitzy press event where media bigwigs noshed on Chinese steak buns and played with AR art installations in West Hollywood.
Spiegel has discovered a method of capitalizing on his penchant for inspiring mobile product design. With this strategy in place and Snap’s reengineered Android app and new languages rolling out now, I believe Snapchat will grow again, at least in terms of deeper engagement if not also total user count. Perhaps it will need a little bit more funding to get it over the hurdle, but I expect it will reach profitability before the end of 2020. 
During a pre-event press briefing with a dozen Snap executives including Spiegel and Murphy (that was on ‘background’ so we can’t quote or specify who said what), one Snap higher-up joked that Facebook has been copying it for seven years so it’s started to feel normal. Zuckerberg recently declared he wanted to reorient Facebook around privacy, ephemerality, and messaging — the core tenets of Snapchat. But a Snap leader used some colorful language to describe how they don’t care what Facebook says its philosophy is until it fixes the 2 billion-user product that keeps doing harm.
Subtly throwing shade from the stage, Spiegel concluded that “Our camera lets the natural light from our world penetrate the darkness of the Internet . . . as we use the Internet more and more in our daily lives, we need a way to make it a bit more human.” That apparently means making other apps a bit more Snapchat.

Snapchat launches Mario Party-style multiplayer games platform

To stop copycats, Snapchat shares itself

U.S. lawmakers warn Canada to keep Huawei out of its 5G plans

In a letter addressed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio make a very public case that Canada should leave Chinese tech and telecom giant Huawei out of its plans to build a next-generation mobile network.
“While Canada has strong telecommunication security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei,” the letter states. The senators warn Canada to “reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.”
The outcry comes after the head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security dismissed security concerns regarding Huawei in comments last month. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security is Canada’s designated federal agency tasked with cybersecurity.
Next generation 5G networks already pose a number of unique security challenges. Lawmakers caution that by allowing companies linked to the Chinese government to build 5G infrastructure, the U.S. and its close allies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.) would be inviting the fox to guard the henhouse.
As part of the Defense Authorization Act, passed in August, the U.S. government signed off on a law that forbids domestic agencies from using services or hardware made by Huawei and ZTE. A week later, Australia moved to block Huawei and ZTE from its own 5G buildout.
Due to the open nature of intelligence sharing between the U.S. and its closest allies, the Canadian government would be able to obtain knowledge of any specific threats that substantiate the U.S. posture toward the Chinese company. “We urge your government to seek additional information from the U.S. intelligence community,” the letter implores.

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U.S. lawmakers warn Canada to keep Huawei out of its 5G plans

Facebook Messenger globally tests injecting display ads into inbox

 Messaging is the center of mobile, and Facebook wants ads in front of all those eyes. After seeing “promising results from Australia and Thailand,” Facebook Messenger is expanding its display ad beta test that lets businesses buy space between your chat threads. Later this month, a small percentage of users will start seeing ads in the Messenger app’s home tab. Read More

Facebook Messenger globally tests injecting display ads into inbox

EA Mobile Moves: IronMonkey & Firemint Merge Into “Firemonkeys,” Now Have 50M Players Between

Screen shot 2012-07-24 at 3.51.37 PM

Electronic Arts announced today that it is merging two top mobile game studios, IronMonkey and Firemint, which will fittingly combine to create a new company, called Firemonkeys. (All parties are awarded 50 points for the awesome portmanteau.)

For those unfamiliar, IronMonkey is probably best known for adapting popular EA titles to mobile, like Mass Effect Infiltrator, Dead Space, and The Sims FreePlay. Freemint, meanwhile, has produced a number of its own popular games, including Flight Control, Real Racing, and SPY Mouse — to name a few. Both studios are currently subsidiaries of the gaming giant, which acquired IronMonkey in early 2010 and Firemint in May 2011.

The rebranded operation will continue to work out of EA’s Australian headquarters in Melbourne, where the teams will be tasked with creating new, original titles, while expanding on their existing catalogs. Going forward, EA has made it clear that it will be pinning much of its hopes on expanding into mobile, with a focus on free-to-play games monetized by in-app purchases.

But, in the long-term, EA can’t just rest on its laurels, squeezing pennies out of its successful franchises, it will have to create engaging, original titles for new generations of gamers. Big ticket acquisitions of PopCap and Playfish have made it clear that the company’s future lies in mobile and social.

As for the new Firemonkeys, IronMonkey General Manager Tony Lay told GameSpot that it wants to “sit shoulder to shoulder with EA studios, like DICE and Criterion,” and he believes that the team will get there by having IP ownership. “I want us to be seen as a creative entity, not simply a porting house,” the GM said.

And, abroad at least, many will be looking to Firemonkeys for leadership. The merger creates the largest game development studio in Australia, EA said today, as the studios’ games have collectively seen 50 million players in 2012 as well as more than two decades of experience between them.

The teams have already basically been working side by side, and the merger really just makes that relationship official, allowing the two teams to pool resources and collaborate on projects when mutual interests and strengths align. Smartphone growth is exploding both in Australia and in neighboring regions and Firemonkeys leadership says that it wants to leverage this adoption to increase brand recognition and become a new center for producing creative IP.

While it already stands as Australia’s largest mobile games studio, EA was quick to point out that it’s looking to expand further and is currently hiring for a number of positions.


EA Mobile Moves: IronMonkey & Firemint Merge Into “Firemonkeys,” Now Have 50M Players Between