Tech

Facebook Groups can now launch up to 250-person chat rooms
techcrunch.com
If you miss the old AOL chat rooms, you’ll love Facebook’s plan to combine Groups and with Messenger without spamming you to death. Starting today, Facebook will gradually roll out the ability for members of Facebook Groups to launch group chats about specific sub-topics that up to 250 members can join. They can also start audio or video calls with up to 50 members. A dog owners’ Group could spawn threads for discussing spontaneous park meetups, grooming tips, or sharing photos as they’re puppies grow up. Chat for Groups could make Facebook’s discussion forums more real-time and engaging, strengthening loyalty to one of the social network’s most differentiated features. But instead of immediately alerting you of every message in every thread, you’ [...]
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Apple needs a feature like Google’s Call Screen
techcrunch.com
Google just one-upped Apple in a significant way by addressing a problem that’s plaguing U.S. cellphone owners: spam calls. The company’s new Pixel 3 flagship Android smartphone is first to introduce a new call screening feature that leverages the built-in Google Assistant. The screening service transcribes the caller’s request in real-time, allowing you to decide whether or not to pick up, and gives you a way to respond. Despite the numerous leaks about Google’s new hardware, Call Screen and the launch of Duplex for restaurant reservations were big surprises coming from Google’s hardware event yesterday. Arguably, they’re even more important developments than fancy new camera features  – even if Group Selfie and Top Shot are cool additions to Go [...]
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Robinhood cuts trading fees, grows profits with in-house clearing
techcrunch.com
As zero-commission stock trading app Robinhood starts preparing to IPO, an engineering investment two years in the making could accelerate its quest for profitability. Most stock broker services have to pay an external clearing house to reconcile trades between buyers and sellers. Now with 6 million accounts up from 4 million just 5 months ago, that added up to a huge cost for Robinhood since it doesn’t demand a trading fee like the $7 to $10 that incumbent competitors E*Trade and Scottrade charge. Relying on outside clearing also introduced bottlenecks around its innovation and user sign ups, limiting onboarding to business hours. But today Robinhood will start migrating accounts to its new in-house clearing service over the next few months. That will save it from paying clearing [...]
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Google’s Pixel phones will soon get mobile Smart Compose in Gmail
techcrunch.com
Google today announced that its Pixel phones will soon get support for Smart Compose in Gmail. Smart Compose automatically finishes your sentences for you as you type, based on what Google knows about how you and others write similar sentences. Smart Compose can also auto-complete addresses for you. Google first launched this feature with its redesigned Gmail for the web, but it’s now bringing this to mobile, too. On mobile, of course, a feature like this is even more interesting since typing on mobile is obviously harder. Google says that on the web, Smart Compose is already saving people a billion characters of typing per week. It’s interesting that Google is launching this feature first on its Pixel phones. Maybe that’s because those phones also feature Google’s [...]
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Most iOS devices now run iOS 12 according to Mixpanel’s data
techcrunch.com
Analytics company Mixpanel is currently tracking the install base of iOS 12. And the latest version of iOS is quite popular, as it’s already installed on roughly 47.6 percent of all iOS devices; 45.6 percent of devices still run iOS 11, and 6.9 percent of iOS users run an older version. Adoption rate is an important metric for app developers. With major iOS releases, Apple also releases new frameworks. But developers still need to support old versions of iOS for a little bit before moving entirely to newer frameworks and dropping support for old iOS versions. But it’s interesting to see that you can already drop support for iOS 10 without losing too many customers. Chances are that users who don’t update their version of iOS don’t really care about having the latest version of yo [...]
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As some pricey coding camps fade away, Codecademy barrels ahead with affordable paid offerings and a new mobile app
techcrunch.com
Between 2013 and last year, the number of boot camp schools tripled to more than 90 in the U.S. alone, according to Course Report, an outfit that tracks the industry. Some — including The Iron Yard and Dev Bootcamp — have since folded, unable to find enough eager recruits willing to pay top dollar to learn coding skills. (The average cost of a 14-week program last year was $11,400.) At the same time, it has become apparent that when it comes to massive open online courses, a very high percentage of students don’t stay the course. New York-based Codecademy, which began offering free coding courses at its outset, has managed to keep plugging away — and grow — despite these headwinds. In fact, the company today employs 85 people, up from 45 when we last sat down [...]
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Reelgood’s app for cord cutters adds 50+ services, personalized recommendations
techcrunch.com
Reelgood, a startup aimed at helping cord cutters find their next binge, is out today with its biggest update yet. The company has been developing its streaming guide over the past year to solve the issues around discovery that exist when consumers drop traditional pay TV in favor of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Prime Video, and others. The company first launched as a website in the summer of 2017 before expanding to mobile last fall. During that time, it’s grown to over a million monthly active users who now check in with Reelgood to find something new to watch. With today’s update to its iOS app, Reelgood is adding a number of features, including personalized recommendations, curated selections, alerts for shows and movies you’re tracking, advanced searc [...]
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Facebook Messenger internally tests voice commands for chat, calls
techcrunch.com
Facebook Messenger could soon let you use your voice to dictate and send messages, initiate voice calls and create reminders. Messenger for Android’s code reveals a new M assistant button atop the message thread screen that activates listening for voice commands for those functionalities. Voice control could make Messenger simpler to use hands-free or while driving, more accessible for the vision or dexterity-impaired and, perhaps one day, easier for international users whose native languages are hard to type. Facebook Messenger was previously spotted testing speech transcription as part of the Aloha voice assistant believed to be part of Facebook’s upcoming Portal video chat screen device. But voice commands in the M assistant are new, and demonstrate an evolution in Faceboo [...]
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