Tech

AnchorFree, maker of Hotspot Shield, raises $295 million in new funding
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AnchorFree, a maker of a popular virtual private networking app, has raised $295 million in a new round of funding, the company announced Wednesday. The Redwood City, Calif.-based app maker’s flagship app Hotspot Shield ranks as one of the most popular VPN apps on the market. The app, based on a freemium model, allows users across the world tunnel their internet connections through AnchorFree’s servers, which masks users’ browsing histories from their internet providers and allows those under oppressive regimes evade state-level censorship. The app has 650 million users in 190 countries, the company said, and also has a business-focused offering. The funding was led by WndrCo, a holding company focusing on consumer tech businesses, in addition to Accel Partners, 8VC, Si [...]
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Stealthy wants to become the WeChat of blockchain apps
techcrunch.com
Meet Stealthy a new messaging app that leverages Blockstack’s decentralized application platform to build a messaging app. The company is participating in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF and launching its app on iOS and Android today. On the surface, Stealthy works like many messaging apps out there. But it gets interesting once you start digging to understand the protocol behind it. Stealthy is a decentralized platform with privacy in mind. It could become the glue that makes various decentralized applications stick together. “We started Stealthy because Blockstack had a global hackathon in December of last year,” co-founder Prabhaav Bhardwaj told me. “We won that hackathon in February.” After that, the #deletefacebook movement combined with the overall decent [...]
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Weebly brings more e-commerce features to mobile
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Weebly is part of Square now, but it continues to update as a standalone product. This week, for example, the company announced a number of new e-commerce features for the Weebly mobile app. Those features include the ability to ship and print labels, to respond to customer questions (via Facebook Messenger, which can be embedded on Weebly sites), to approve customer reviews, to create branded coupon codes and to edit every aspect of your store, including product listing and pricing — all from the app. Much of this functionality already existed on desktop, so the announcement is about moving these capabilities onto smartphones. In a blog post, the company outlined a vision for the mobile phone to become “the new back office.” Weebly CEO David Rusenko told me that as his tea [...]
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TikTok adds video reactions to its newly-merged app
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Just about a month after the merger of the short-form video apps Musical.ly and TikTok, the app is introducing a new social feature, allowing users to post their reactions to the videos that they watch. Instead of text comments, these reactions will take the form of videos that are essentially superimposed on top of existing clips. The idea of a reaction video should be familiar to anyone who’s spent some time on YouTube, but TikTok is incorporating the concept in way that looks like a pretty seamless. To post a reaction, users just need to choose the React option in the Share menu for a given video. The app will then record your audio and video as the clip plays. You can also decide where on the screen you want your reaction video to appear. If you don’t recognize the TikTo [...]
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Skype rolls back its redesign by ditching stories, squiggles and over-the-top color
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Just over a year after Skype introduced a colorful, Snapchat-inspired makeover which included its own version of “stories,” the company says it’s now going to refocus on simplicity – and it’s ditching stories along the way. The redesign had been met with a lot of backlash. Skype had clearly wanted to appeal to a more youthful demographic with its update, but in doing so, it cluttered the user experience with features no one had asked for or needed. One of these was “Highlights,” a feature that was very much Skype’s own take on Snapchat’s or Instagram’s Stories. With Highlights, Skype users were able to swipe up to pull up their smartphone’s camera, then snap a photo or record a video that could be decorated with typed or han [...]
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Scientists make a touch tablet that rolls and scrolls
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Research scientists at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab have built a prototype touchscreen device that’s neither smartphone nor tablet but kind of both — and more besides. The device, which they’ve christened the MagicScroll, is inspired by ancient (papyrus/paper/parchment) scrolls so it takes a rolled-up, cylindrical form factor — enabled by a flexible 7.5inch touchscreen housed in the casing. This novel form factor, which they made using 3D printing, means the device can be used like an erstwhile Rolodex (remember those?!) for flipping through on-screen contacts quickly by turning a physical rotary wheel built into the edge of the device. (They’ve actually added one on each end.) Then, when more information or a deeper dive is required, the u [...]
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Apple will require all apps to have a privacy policy as of October 3
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Apple is cracking down on apps that don’t communicate to users how their personal data is used, secured or shared. In an announcement posted to developers through the App Store Connect portal, Apple says that all apps, including those still in testing, will be required to have a privacy policy as of October 3, 2018. Allowing apps without privacy policies is something of an obvious hole that Apple should have already plugged, given its generally protective nature over user data. But the change is even more critical now that Europe’s GDPR regulations have gone into effect. Though the app makers themselves would be ultimately responsible for their customers’ data, Apple, as the platform where those apps are hosted, has some responsibility here, too. Platforms today are bein [...]
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Apple’s new iOS 12 beta fixes the annoying ‘please update’ bug
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iOS 12 beta testers have been plagued with a frustrating bug that continually pops up messages alerting them that a new iOS update is available when, in fact, it’s not. Apple has now fixed this bug, which is patched in the latest iOS 12 betas rolling out now, we understand. The bug first made headlines on Thursday, when a number of iOS 12 beta testers – including developers and those on the public beta program – began to complain on social media about the problem. All users were seeing a pop-up message that read, “A new iOS version is now available. Please update from the iOS 12 beta.”   Users could close this window with a tap, but the same pop-up would reappear at regular intervals. There was nothing to be done about it, because the message itself was wron [...]
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