Snapchat Spectacles’ Limited Availability Sees Units Going on Sale for Thousands of Dollars on eBay

Snapchat Spectacles' Limited Availability Sees Units Going on Sale for Thousands of Dollars on eBaySnap Inc, the company behind Snapchat, announced its foray into hardware products with the launch of its sunglasses, simply named Spectacles, in September. The company’s sunglasses generated much interest at launch, and come with a camera that is capable of recording videos. Snapchat Spectacles were finally released on Friday through vending machine named ‘Snapbot’ that changes its locations on 24-hour basis. However, due to the limited availability of these sunglasses at release, customers are seemingly ready to shell out thousands of dollars to grab them from unofficial sources.

Snapchat Spectacles, which have a retail price of $129 (roughly Rs. 8,700), have been put up for sale at a price up to $2,500 (roughly Rs. ) for a pair on sites such as eBay. Even though this particular listing price is at extreme side of spectrum, the retail price for each pair of sunglasses in most listings is still hovering around $800 (roughly Rs. 54,100). This effectively suggests that people are ready to pay around six times more than the retail price for owning a pair of these sunglasses.

The precise location of Snapbots can be traced by interested customers through a map on the dedicated website for the sunglasses. As per a report by The Next Week, the company earlier suggested that it intends to give a wider release to the sunglasses in 2017, provided enough demand exists for the product.

If early indications are anything to go by, demand will not be an issue for the company and a wider release for the sunglasses can be certainly expected.

Twitter Buys TenXer Collaborative Platform for Developers and Engineers

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Twitter has acquired a platform meant for developers and engineers to collaborate better, called TenXer. As of now, the size of the deal has not been revealed, but is rumoured to be below $50 million.

The news was confirmed by TenXer CEO and Co-Founder Jeffrey Ma to TechCrunch. TenXer will shut down, and the team has joined Twitter where it will be “continuing its work.”

The micro-blogging network has yet to confirm the acquisition, beyond pointing publications to a tweet by Jeffrey Ma.

The TenXer collaborative platform is described as helping “engineering leads be better managers.” The firm says it delivers “the key views, stats and insights managers need to be effective and to help their teams be more productive,” sourcing data produced by engineers on GitHub, Pivotal, JIRA, and other developer sites.

“TenXer helps engineering teams be more efficient, knowledgable, and productive,” adds the company site. TechCrunch, citing people familiar with the matter claims TenXer will be used for internal clients, and not be made available in such as the Fabric developer platform. Twitter has been taking several steps to expand its user base and also monetise the platform.

Since the beginning of the year, Twitter has confirmed its acquisitions of thePeriscope live video streaming app – which has since been relaunched with Twitter branding – and Niche, a talent agency that grooms social media stars.

Twitter Digits Can Now Help You Personalize Your App, Make It More Secure

Twitter announced friend-finding and two-step verification for Digits, its sign-in tool for developers.

Twitter launched its new mobile app development platform called Fabric in October. It’s made up of three modular kits, including a Twitter kit, which includes Digits. Digits allows people to sign into apps using their phone number. As the company explained at the time:

It’s built on Twitter infrastructure so you don’t have to worry about managing multiple relationships with carriers and SMS interchanges. Digits is fully themeable so that it fits the user experience you’ve designed for your app. Digits won’t post anything on your user’s behalf since it isn’t tied to their social network accounts, including Twitter. And with Digits, your apps are ready for global adoption: it’s available immediately in 216 countries and in 28 languages, on iOS, Android and the web.

Digits also solves a number of issues for your users. Since Digits uses a phone number, there’s no need for users to remember complex passwords or usernames and all they have to share is a phone number to get started in your app.

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In January, Twitter launched Digits for the web, enabling developers to implement phone-based login on their mobile apps’ websites.
The latest features will make it a more attractive sign-in option since they provide added security and the ability to make an app more personally relevant to the user.

“Since every app is different, many of them need their own social graphs to provide a differentiated experience to win users over,” says Twitter engineer Eric Frohnhoefer . “While social networking services give you the full list of your users’ friends, those connections may not be up to date or relevant to the app experience you’re delivering. On the other hand, contact lists on your users’ phones have the strongest, most current connections – but it can be cumbersome to build custom code to import those lists and match the contacts to create a social graph.”

Friend-finding in Digits is the solution as far as Twitter is concerned. It enables apps to create social graphs with users’ contact lists. It will match both mutual and one-way connections so users who are already on the service will know which of their contacts are also using it. They can also be alerted when a friend joins at a later time.

As Twitter notes, you can use contacts gained from the feature to personalize content with the app. For example, you could show users what their friends have bought or “the highest level they’ve achieved to incite ‘friendly’ competition”.

“By delivering an experience fit for the individual user, you can increase the adoption of your app and retention among your user base,” says Frohnhoefer. “New users will know immediately which of the people they know best are using your app and current users can be ambassadors for the new initiates. It’s worth noting too that the social graph users create in your app with Digits will not be shared with other third-party apps, and the service is opt-in for users – it won’t interrupt the simple sign-up Digits offers.”

As far as security goes, Twitter says phone-based login is already more secure than email or social-based login, but the two-step verification just adds another layer. Once you implement the verification, your app’s users can login to Digits, and set up a code, which will be prompted on future logins and signups.

Developers can get Digits at get.fabric.io, downloading Fabric, and installing the Twitter Kit. Android documentation for the new features can be found here. iOS documentation is here.

Twitter is currently in the middle of a series of developer events, which are taking place around the world. The next one is on March 11 in New York. more on those here.

Google Significantly Upgrades Contacts

Google just released a preview of its new Contacts experience, which comes across as a major upgrade right off the bat, unlike other recent next-generation email-related offerings from the company.

As Google says, the new experience makes it easier for you to keep track of the people you know and get the info you need, fast. A quick click on the preview link pretty much confirmed that for me. Whereas in the past, my Contacts have always been kind of a jumbled mess comprised largely of people I rarely interact with, the new experience puts the people I actually know and care about front and center, and with virtually no effort on my part.

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The new Contacts puts together all your contacts, circles, and the people you talk to most in Gmail.

“As the people you know change jobs, cities, and names, it can be tough to stay up to date with their latest information,” says product manager Sean Purcell. “The new Contacts ensures that the info you see is still accurate and ready to use by blending your contact’s Google profile information with the stuff you already have.”

The product will also now show you your most recent emails and meetings with a person right in their contact card. This could be tremendously helpful for recalling who people even are, and what your relationship with them was even based on in the first place. For people who do a lot of emailing that’s a pretty great feature. This doesn’t actually appear to be working for all contacts for me at the moment, but this is only a preview.

Google says you can expect to find the preview in Gmail sometime in the next few weeks, but you can take a look here in the meantime. It’s not available for Google Apps customers yet, but it will be eventually.

In some ways, the new Contacts experience follows a similar path as Inbox by Google, the company’s latest attempt at rethinking email. Like Inbox, Contacts is making better use of Google’s various offerings and putting them together to make the product more useful. In my opinion, Contacts is a more practical attempt at this. It’s certainly not as radical a change as Inbox is compared to the familiar Gmail experience, though both do have their helpful traits.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think the new Contacts will be much easier to swallow for the masses of Gmail users than Inbox necessarily will be. Granted, there are quite a few people who do think Inbox is an improvement to the Gmail experience.

Facebook’s Slingshot app gets updated with Reactions feature

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Facebook rolled out its self destructing messaging app Slingshot globally in June. Today, the social network is updating the app with ‘reactions’, a feature that enables users to reply with a reaction to photos without having to first reply with another photo.

We’ve heard (and seen) how much people love reacting to shots in their feed. So why should the fun end after one reaction? Today we’re excited to announce that reactions to reactions are here! Starting today, you can reply to any reaction with a photo, video or text.

said Facebook in a company blog post.

The latest version of the app allows you to respond with a photo, video, or just text.  Users can now exchange an unlimited number of reaction messages. Facebook also made some performance improvements, letting you snap pics quicker among other small fixes. In addition to the reactions to reactions feature, Facebook also added a “My People” feature that shows other Slingshot friends. This displays friends from your contact as well as Facebook in a list form.

Instagram rolled out its photo and video messaging app Bolt in selected countries earlier this week.

You can download the Slingshot update from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Reuters: YouTube to debut paid music service

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With recent criticism that YouTube’s current free video website might block music videos from labels that do not agree to its terms, the Google subsidiary said Tuesday that it plans to launch a paid streaming music service.

YouTube did not comment on the matter, except for stating the service would provide new revenue for the music industry.

“We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind – to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year.”

According to Reuters, who confirmed the long-running rumors, YouTube has partnered with “hundreds of major and independent” music labels for the new service. This news comes after some music trade groups have criticized YouTube’s plans to potentially block the content of certain labels from appearing on YouTube’s “free, ad-supported” website unless they sign deals to participate in the new, subscription streaming music service.

Expected to launch sometime at the end of the summer, the service is said to allow users to listen to music without adds, listen to music offline, listen to an artist’s entire album instead of just individual songs and work in conjunction with the Google Play Music service.

Xiaomi India website goes live ahead of launch

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Popular Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi is expected to make its debut in India very soon. Ahead of the launch, its website has gone live that proves to be rather short on details but does help create a bit of buzz around the launch. Xiaomi is also making its presence felt via their official Facebook page.

The launch of the website and the company’s India specific social properties makes us believe that Xiaomi devices might go on sale sooner than the Diwali time frame that has been hinted at previously. The news follows the company’s appointment of Manu Kumar Jain as General Manager, Xiaomi India.

Xiaomi makes a range of products that offer compelling specifications & user experiences at a very enticing price point. The product range includes the Mi3, RedMi, RedMi Note as well as a number of accessories. Additionally, Xiaomi has diversified into verticals like 4K televisions. We expect the company will introduce a subset of their offerings including the RedMi at launch. We expect to see the company retail devices via their own web based store as well as e-retailers like Amazon and Flipkart.

Facebook Messenger for iOS gets instant video message, coming to Android soon

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Facebook is adding more power to Messenger with updates and features. Today, the social network has rolled out instant video messaging feature that will enable users to send 15 second videos within the app. Currently, the video messaging feature has launched to the Facebook Messenger’s iOS app and it will soon land on Android as well.

Users will to have to tap and hold in order to send videos similar to Snapchat and Vine. Prior to this update, users could only send in-app pictures and pre-recorded videos stored in the iOS Camera Roll. The update also includes the ability to tap and hold the “thumbs up” button to send a bigger “like.”

Instant video messaging comes to Messenger only few days after Facebook accidentally launched Snapchat rival Slingshot app that enables users to send disappearing photo and video messages. Also earlier in April, Facebook Messenger for iOS and Android received better photo sharing from within the app itself.  It also got free voice calling on both of these platforms in March.

You can update the Facebook Messenger iOS app from the Apple iTunes Store here

Springpad personal organizer shutting down on June 25th

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Springpad, one of the popular productivity service is shutting on June 25th. It is definitely sad to see such a useful note-taking service shutting its doors. It is working on a new export tool that would let users export all their content easily before it shuts down in less than one month from now.

There are a lot of note-taking apps, but Springpad competes with Evernote with its unique features such as notebook templates to organize gift shopping, meal planning, movies, and more. Evernote eventually launched several other services such as Skitch, a drawing and annotation app for Android and iOS, after acquiring the company. Other apps include, Evernote Hello and Evernote Food, but it has been months since these apps have been updated.

Springpad that started 6 years back has more than 5 million users, said the company on their official blog. If you are looking for an alternative, you can check out Evernote, Google Keep, Microsoft One Note.