Google Acquires Kifi to Enhance Its Spaces Group Chat App

Google Acquires Kifi to Enhance Its Spaces Group Chat App

  • Kifi is a link management startup
  • Google launched its Spaces group chat app in May
  • The Kifi service will exist for a few more weeks

Google, in an attempt to bolster its Spaces group chat app, has acquired Kifi, a Web management tool. In a Medium post, Kifi made the announcement and confirmed that it will join Google’s Spaces team. “The Kifi team is excited to announce that we’ll be joining Google,” wrote the company in the post.

For those unaware, Kifi was launched a little over two years ago and came with a mission to “connect people with knowledge.” The service allowed teams to organise, share, discuss, and find valued content. The service also integrated the features into various browsers.

“We see a lot of alignment to Google’s mission to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our team will be joining the Spaces team at Google to build solutions focused on improving group sharing, conversation, and content finding. Frankly, we’re thrilled they have a bit of “space” for us,” said the Kifi team.

For current Kifi users, the team says service will be fully functional for few more weeks. “The Kifi service will remain fully functional for existing users for a few more weeks. We are no longer accepting new registrations,” added the Kifi team.

The company however pointed out that the Kifi service and data will not become part of Google. After few weeks, Kifi users will be able to “easily export data.”

Launched back in May, Google’s Space was available to users on Android, iOS, desktop, and mobile web. Believed to be Google’s latest take on social app, the Spaces app allowed users share content in groups on any topic. The biggest highlight of Google’s Spaces app is it comes with built-in Google Search, YouTube, and Chrome.

Pokemon Go International Rollout Begins With Germany

Pokemon Go International Rollout Begins With Germany

  • Pokemon Go is now available in Germany
  • This should result in an international release soon
  • Some speculate a Thursday release for the game worldwide

Earlier this week we reported that Pokemon Go was slated for a worldwide release soon. And it seems that Niantic and The Pokemon Company are confident of this. Reason being, the game is finally available in Germany, aside from Australia, New Zealand, and the US which got it last week. This means we should see a roll out to other regions like India, UK, and Japan soon enough.

According to the Pokemon Go subreddit, users in Germany are able to access the game officially.

“You can now download Pokemon Go in Germany from the App Store. First you have to uninstall your current Version then reinstall it from the AppStore and use the same Login as before to continue with everything that you already got,” the post reads before explaining how eager fans can bypass potential issues if they obtained the game earlier.

“You can either just use the version you already have and just update it from the App Store without reinstalling OR you have to uninstall it because the App Store will tell you that it is still “not available in your country” after you uninstalled it you can refresh the Store and it should be available.”

Some speculate a Thursday launch the world over is in the offing given Apple’s App Store policies.

“The App Store usually refreshes with new releases and big updates on Thursday to enable users the entire weekend to browse and purchase,” a developer tells Gadgets 360.

As per The Wall Street Journal, you can expect it in your country soon. It claims that “people familiar with plans for the game said it would likely be available in other regions, including Europe, Japan, and other Asian nations within a few days.”

This bodes well for an official Indian release. Even more so when you consider that previous Nintendo efforts such as Miitomo have ignored the country altogether.

Nearly Half of Smartphone Gamers Are Women

Nearly Half of Smartphone Gamers Are Women: Facebook Study

Smartphones are the most used gaming device for people globally – and across 12 countries, 47 percent of all smartphone players are now women, a Facebook study has revealed, adding that gaming on mobile devices is increasingly becoming popular among women.

Facebook’s data analysis and storytelling team FacebookIQ commissioned market research company TNS to survey people ages 18-plus spanning 12 countries representing North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle-East and Asia on their use of mobile as a gaming device.

The survey found that on average, smartphones are the top gaming device for users – at 71 percent – followed by computers at 64 percent, tablets at 34 percent and video game consoles at 26 percent, adweek.com reported on Tuesday.

The survey also analysed the habits of mobile game spenders – users who play games on mobile and pay for games on at least a monthly basis – and found that these spending players were 2.7 times more likely to stay in-game for a “sense of community and belonging” than mobile non-spenders.

These spenders were also found to be 2.3 times more likely to stop playing games than non-spenders if community members stop playing.

“On average across the 12 markets, 68 percent of mobile game spenders said they discover games via social networking platforms. Other popular discovery sources were photo and video services at 57 percent and chat apps at 54 percent,” the report said.

Thirty-four percent of mobile game spenders said they discover games by word of mouth.

Google Hangouts for Android Finally Gets Video Messaging

Google Hangouts for Android Finally Gets Video Messaging

  • An update was released for iOS alongside
  • Android users can now send 1-minute-long video messages
  • Users can now kick other users out of group conversations

Both Android and iOS platforms are receiving the Hangouts v11.0 update, and the biggest highlight of the iteration is that Google’s mobile operating system has finally got video messaging, more than two years after Apple’s mobile OS. The update brings other changes to both platforms, along with some platform-specific changes.

The updated Google Hangouts app for Android is not yet listed on Google Play in India, but users eager to try it out can sideload the Google-signed apk via APK Mirror. The updated iOS app is already listed on the App Store.

The video messaging feature was brought to Google Hangouts for iOS back in February 2014. The duration limit on video was increased from 10 seconds to 1 minute in March this year. The latest update further increases the duration limit to 2 minutes on iOS. On Android however, the feature has been introduced with a 1-minute limit.

Other changes common to the updated Android and iOS apps of Google Hangouts include the ability to kick users out of group conversations. On Android, Google has also removed ‘merged conversations’, which showed Hangouts messages and SMS messages from the same user in a single conversation.

On its support page, Google has reasoned this change by saying, “Merged conversations used to let you see your Hangouts messages and text messages in the same conversation. We have decided to remove it, because it caused user confusion and had low usage.” However, the users will not lose any of the messages sent and can see them right there in Hangouts, the page says.

On iOS, Google Hangouts v11.0 also gets a fix for static gifs and square cropping of images.

Apple Is Casting Developers for Its First Reality TV Series, Planet of the Apps

Apple Is Casting Developers for Its First Reality TV Series, Planet of the Apps

  • The show will be filmed in Los Angeles
  • It will have app developers compete against each other
  • The winner will get $10 million in funding from VCs

Apple’s rumoured reality TV series is now taking shape, and the company has finally announced a casting call for it. As expected, the TV series is about app developers, and is going to be called Planet of the Apps.

On the Planet of the Apps website, the company has invited app developers to pitch their new apps, along with a one-minute video of the team working behind it. The casting call ends on August 26, after which the series will begin filming. The shoot will take place in Los Angeles, and should go on till early 2017. The app creators should also have their app in beta (on iOS, watchOS, tvOS, or macOS) ready before the October 21 deadline, in order to be eligible for the first Apple series.

The reality TV series showcases the journey of searching for the best app out there. The winner will get $10 million in funding from VCs, and their app will be highlighted in the Featured section of the App Store. They will also be mentored by the biggest name in tech and entertainment.

The Planet of the Apps will be co-produced by production company Propagate. It is co-owned by Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens (Masterchef Junior). Apparently, Will.i.am will also have a part in producing the reality TV series (via 9to5Mac). The producers will be heading to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Austin to meet the shortlisted app entrepreneurs. This casting call is only for residents of the US, so all the developers in other countries need not take the effort to apply.

Pokemon Go Players in South Korea Face Google Maps Hurdle

Pokemon Go Players in South Korea Face Google Maps Hurdle

  • South Korean users are facing problem in playing Pokemon Go
  • It is because of the security issues between the two countries
  • South Korea has a limited Google Maps service as of now

Nintendo’s smash hit Pokemon Go is likely to face hurdles in South Korea, where Google mapping functions are restricted due to security issues with North Korea – though some fans are already trekking out to one remote area where it can be played.

South Korea is the world’s fourth-biggest gaming market after China, the United States and Japan, according to Amsterdam-based research firm Newzoo, potentially representing a big opportunity loss for Nintendo and game publisher Niantic if it can’t be officially rolled out.

The augmented reality game where players walk around neighbourhoods in real life, searching out Pokemon to catch and train, relies on Google Maps to work. But in most of South Korea those functions have been limited by the government, which is technically still at war with North Korea, for national security reasons.

“Due to government restrictions on maps data, it’s impossible for Pokemon Go to work properly using Google Maps service in South Korea,” a person familiar with the matter said, declining to be identified as the person was not authorised to speak on the issue.

Representatives for Niantic were not immediately available to comment. Nintendo and Alphabet’s Google declined to comment.

Nintendo’s first venture into mobile gaming has only been officially launched in the United States, Australia and New Zealand with other countries such as Japan slated to see a launch soon.

The craze has sent Nintendo’s shares skyrocketing and although they lost some ground on Wednesday as investors took profits. The stock has gained 46 percent, adding nearly $10 billion to the company’s market value since Thursday’s close.

Despite the limited rollout so far, users in other countries have sought to get in on the action either by downloading the game file in some way or masking their account so that it appears as if they have either an Australian or US account for example.

Those tactics are believed to be exacerbating logging-in problems. By early Wednesday, about 1,300 Pokemon Go users had reported problems accessing the game in Australia over the last two days, according to website aussieoutages.com.

In South Korea, some impatient fans have rushed to Sokcho, a city close to the border with North Korea – an area where the game can be played as it has not been classified as South Korean territory in Google map data.

“I didn’t go to some big tourist attraction; all I did was walk around for tens of kilometres to play a game. But I’m more satisfied with this than any other trip. I would still be in Sokcho had it not been for an urgent issue,” one user posted on an internet message board.

Indeed, the city of Sokcho has been quick to capitalise on its unusual status, sharing maps on of free Wi-Fi areas and advertising itself on social media as “the only Pokemon Go holy land on the pennisula.”

Polaroid Swing for iOS May Be the Live Photos Alternative You Need

Polaroid Swing for iOS May Be the Live Photos Alternative You Need

  • Polaroid Swing makes one-second animated sequence from photos
  • The animation can be seen by a finger-swipe, or moving the phone
  • Co-founders were inspired by the photography brand Polaroid

Last September, Apple introduced a new feature with theiPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus – Live Photos. The idea of capturing a very small clip along with photo was not entirely new as HTC had already tried it with Zoe, but the feature was generally received well. However, the feature was only available for company’s latest smartphones, and not for all. A new app called Polaroid Swing looks to fill in the void left by Apple.

Polaroid Swing lets you make animated images by first capturing photos in burst mode and then using them to create one-second sequences. The sequence can then be seen by swiping your finger across the screen or moving your phone.

It is not first time that Apple’s Live Photos last month launched Motion Stills for iOS, an app that lets you create smooth animations in a loop by using Apple’s Live Photos. The app decides the optimal starting and ending points for the loop by itself and separates background from foreground so that a smooth loop is created.

The Polaroid Swing app is listed on the App Store and supports models iPhone 5s and above, iPad Airand above, iPad mini 2 and above, both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and iPod touch (6th generation).

Last year, Instagram also took a different take on Live Photos by launching its app Boomerang. Instead of creating a loop video, Boomerang played a very small duration clip, played it in reverse and then back again, hence the name Boomerang.

Co-founders Frederick Blackford and Tommy Stadlen were inspired by Polaroid, and believed that it made photography cool, as pointed out by The Next Web. The duo got the name licensed for their app, with which “the idea is to capture the arc of a moment,” as told to The Next Web by Stadlen.

It is hard to say whether the app will make its mark among all the photo/clip capturing apps that are available in App Store but it definitely provides an interesting alternative choice with the familiar brand name of Polaroid

New Skype Update Lets You Send Files To Offline People

Skype

Microsoft has announced that it is releasing a new version of Skype and this new version lets you send files to your friends when they are offline.

When your friend you have sent the file too in Skype logs in, they can then download the file. Skype has also increased the file size doe documents and video to 300MB.

Over the last few weeks we’ve tested a number of different file size limits for file sharing. Based on the results of these tests, we are setting a limit of 300MB per file as this accommodates almost all the file sizes shared over Skype, and has been working well for our millions of users since it started rolling out several weeks ago. For those of you who want to send files larger than 300MB, OneDrive is an excellent option to share photos, videos and documents with your contacts, and it offers additional benefits of up to 5GB of free storage, local sync, and collaboration via the Office apps. We hope that you find the reliability improvements we’ve outlined above improve Skype file sharing overall.

You can find out more information about the latest version of Skype at the link below.

Myntra Acquires Bengaluru-Based App Startup Cubeit

Myntra Acquires Bengaluru-Based App Startup Cubeit

Fashion e-tailer Myntra on Monday said it has acquired Bengaluru-based Cubeit for an undisclosed sum to focus on content aggregation on mobile.

As part of the acquisition, the team at Cubeit has been inducted into Myntra, making it an ‘acqui-hire’ that will further strengthen and expand the technology team,Myntra said in a statement.

No financial details of the deal were disclosed.

Cubeit, led by co-founders Sarthak Jain, Nithinkumar Gadiparthi and Prathamesh Juvatkar, was founded in 2014.

“Myntra offers us the opportunity to leverage our skills and further build upon a very strong technological base,” Jain said.

Cubeit focuses on building mobile applications that allows users to aggregate content from anywhere, organise, view and share the same from a given location.

“Technology is at the core of our operations and we are looking at leveraging it to further enhance customer experience through social and community interactions on our platforms,” Myntra Chief Product and Technology Officer Shamik Sharma said.

This is the third technology-led acquisition for Myntra, which is part of e-commerce giant Flipkart.

In May last year, it had acquired Native5, another Bengaluru-based mobile app development platform (acqui-hire). In April 2013, Myntra had acquired San Francisco-based technology solution, Fitiquette, which offered a virtual fitting room solution.

Google Play’s Family Library Lets You Share Apps With Up to 5 People

Google Play's Family Library Lets You Share Apps With Up to 5 People
  • The feature does not allow sharing of music
  • One parent member will make all the purchases
  • All members have to be in the same country

Google has finally brought Family Library to Android apps. The feature now allows users to share purchased apps from Google Play with up to six family members.

Last December, Google launched a family plan for its music streaming service, but users could not share music. The new Family Library feature will still not allow users to share music, with Google wanting users to pay $14.99 per month for Play Music All Access, but all other purchases in the Google Play ecosystem are now up for sharing.

There will be one parent member, who will make all the purchases, and then rope in five more people to share that purchased content with. The parent member can choose which users get access to which apps, and which don’t. This will eradicate multiple purchases within the same family, and also remove the need to give your kids your phone to play purchased games.

Since May, Google has been sending emails to developers that this feature would be made default to all apps from July 2. Google encouraged app makers to voluntary enable Family Sharing for past purchases before the deadline, after which it warned that the Family Library feature will be introduced as a default feature.

Through this feature, purchases can be made only through one registered credit card, and that has to belong to the parent (aka manager) who is responsible for sharing the purchases with other members. This feature has been rolled out for Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US users only for now. All members within a family group have to belong to a same country, and members can be a part of only one family group at a time.