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Instagram launches Threads, a Close Friends chat app with auto-status

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What if Instagram could automatically tell your Close Friends you’re 🏠 (home), 🤓 (working), 🚗 (on the move), or 🛋️ (chilling and might want to hang out)? That’s the idea behind Instagram’s new companion app Threads, a Close Friends-only messaging experience that opens to the camera with shortcuts for instantly sending specific people photos and videos. Threads offers two brand new features called Status and Auto-Status that allow you to manually set an emoji as an away message to show Close Friends what you’re up to, or opt in to letting Instagram select one automatically based on your location, accelerometer, and even your phone’s battery level.

Instagram Threads Auto StatusLaunching globally today on iOS and Android, this is Facebook and Instagram’s next big swing at Snapchat, specifically targeting its top use case: rapid-fire camera and text messaging with your best friends. Sick of randos in your inbox? Only people in your Instagram Close Friends list show up in Threads so you can trust its notifications are important. You can still just use Instagram Direct in the main app or the two in parallel, though.

What’s most unique is that Threads finally sees the launch the Facebook “Your Emoji” status feature we reported it was prototyping 18 months ago. Threads Status and Auto-Status offer conversation starters, contextual clues to why someone might not respond, and opportunities to meet up offline. But importantly, it leaves out a map or any exact location sharing to avoid being creepy and instead focus on what Close Friends are up to — which determines if they can chat or hang out more than where they are.

Threads offers “persistent connection”, Instagram’s Director of consumer product management Robby Stein tells me. It was designed with three priorities: the ability to “fully control who can reach you”, speed because “If most of your messages only go to a couple of people, why isn’t the experience built around that?”, and “Having more of a connection through the day . . . even if you don’t have time for a conversation.”

By building Threads as a separate app, Instagram has little to lose if it flops and could learn about what features to pull back into its main app. But if it succeeds, Threads cement itself as where you stay in touch with your favorite people, while pigeonholing other messaging options like SMS, WeChat, as Snapchat as noisy channels full of unwanted alerts.

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Close Friends Only

Social networks have an inevitable problem. Eventually out of coincidence and courtesy, you add too many people as friends, filling the apps with people who’s content you don’t care about and who’s messages you don’t always want. Facebook, the catch-all network for everything from family to bosses to acquaintances. That leads people to feel uncomfortable sharing too much, and to distrust that the notifications they get are important.

Instagram Close Friends ThreadsNow Instagram is doubling-down on Close Friends which launched last November at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to let you secretly set a special group of best pals who get to see special Stories you set as visible to only them. Facebook had tried complicated Lists products in the past and never seen them gain significant traction because it’s too tough to keep track of who’s in each. Instagram nailed the concept with a single list you edit as needed, though people don’t know if they’re added or removed. I’m surprised Facebook doesn’t already have its own Close Friends feature and it’d be smart to build one.

Instagram already tried building its own standalone Direct messaging app, but shut it down after low usage since it didn’t offer anything beyond what you already got in the main app. Casey Newton of The Verge reported Instagram was building an app with automatic activity sharing in August.

Now with Threads, Close Friends creates the foundation for something different. The only entries in your inbox are Close Friends, which you can edit in the app with the list syncing with your list on Instagram. You can hide any of those chats or group chats with exclusively close friends if you don’t want to see them. You only need an Instagram account, not Facebook, to sign up. For some extra flavor, you can activate one of several dark mode-style themes for the app in color schemes like a yellower Sunrise or greener Aurora.

When you open Threads, you’ll see open immediately to the camera like Snapchat. At the bottom are “Camera Shortcuts” that show friends’ faces you can tap on to send a photo or tap and hold for a video. You can also tap the “default camera” shutter and the select everyone you want to message, or rearrange the order of the shortcuts. Since it’s focused on speed, there are no filters or augmented reality masks, just drawing and text overlays for off-the-cuff commentary on what’s going on around you.

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Swiping up from the camera reveals the Threads inbox, where you can tap into a conversation for a full-featured messaging experience just like in Instagram Direct. There you can send GIFs, camera roll content, and more. Without unsolicited messages in your inbox, your most important people stay closer to the top. “I see more of my wife’s life now that we’re in this product” Stein tells me.

Passive Sharing With Auto-Status

Three years ago I wrote about “the quest to cure loneliness” through apps that help us meet up in the real world by breaking down the ambiguity of what friends are up to without requiring you to desperately ping them and feel embarrassed if ignored. Many products have tried and failed to make us less isolated through location broadcasting, passive sharing, and offline intent.

Foursquare let you say exactly where you were while its second app Swarm auto-shared it, but if you’re busy it doesn’t matter to me where you are and you probably don’t want me dropping in. Snap Map and Facebook Nearby Friends similarly focused too much on the where instead of the what. Down To Lunch let you post an emoji of what you’re doing but it lacked the necessary traction and built-in messaging to convert “hey we’re both available” to actually meeting up. The app Free was too complex.

To succeed, an app needed ubiquity, the privacy of only sharing this sensitive info with the right people, a focus on intention instead of location, and built-in chat for getting together. Instagram has the last three, so it’s a matter of either making Threads popular or rolling this feature into the main app.

Instagram threads Status

With Status, you can set an emoji as your away message for one to four hours. You can select from pre-made ones with their own text tag lines, or define a new one from the full range of emoji. You can say you’re 👍 (free), 🚫 (busy), 📚 (studying), or make something personal like 😈 (getting into trouble).

Meanwhile, Auto-Status defaults to off but can be turned on to give Instagram the ability to use data signals to choose an emoji for you. It will match your exact location to specific places like Home, Work, cafes, bars, traveling out of town and more. Your accelerometer lets it show if you’re biking or driving. And your phone battery can let it display that you’re low on juice or currently charging.

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Why share my batter status? Stein tells me that if you’re charging your phone, you might not be next to it and could be slow to respond. Or if you’re low battery, you might suddenly stop replying all together. That’s helpful knowledge to share with Close Friends even if it’d be weird to post it more widely.

One problem is that who you want to message with often might include family or co-workers that you don’t want to have see your Close Friends Stories, but the list is used for both. At the same time, Threads could boost Close Friends usage, leading people to share more intimate and silly stuff on Stories which do help Instagram earn money thanks to the ads in between.

Instagram threads logo

For now, though, Instagram tells me there’s no plan to monetize Threads directly or show any ads in it. In fact, Facebook won’t even use the exact locations pulled from the app to power ad targeting. Coordinates are only sent so it can match them to locations like a movie theater to show you’re at the movies. Facebook won’t store the locations and they only stay on your device for a short period before they’re deleted.

Still, Auto-Status is sure to rile some who think Facebook and Instagram are too creepy to give any more data. But if the convenience of knowing your friend is available to hang out or is probably too stressed for a chat outweighs the company’s toxic brand, Instagram could develop an important new social behavior. Even if it doesn’t monetize it directly, Threads could keep users locked into the Insta ecosystem where they’ll see plenty of feed and Story ads between message bouts.

Social graph bloat causes a chilling effect on sharing. It’s what Snapchat, Path, and other apps have tried to solve but ended up succumbing to. Instagram accepts that you’ll inevitably connect with people you don’t care much about out of social obligation, pity, or apathy. But by building whole products around just sharing with your favorite subset of people, it could unlock what we self-center — the real us.

APPS

Best ASO Tips To Boost Your App Search In 2022

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You need your application to be really effective in the overpopulated application market. Then, at that point, you will have to drive downloads to endure. So when it’s all said and done, you must account for yourself. Get your application the consideration it merits.

The uplifting news, however, is that customers love to download applications – last year, we downloaded in excess of 200 billion applications around the world, and that figure is set to increment to 258 billion every year by 2022 as cell phone reception increments.

Assuming you need to be seen and have your application downloaded by however many clients as could reasonably be expected, then, at that point, you should begin by taking a gander at the application store.

Underneath, we’ve assembled probably the best application store improvement methods to assist you with creating more downloads in 2021 and then some…

Start with Your Application Name 

The odds are you as of now have an extraordinary name for your application, yet an appropriately advanced application is about significantly more than marking.

Assuming you need to amplify transparency and guarantee you’re showing up when clients look for applications like yours, you ought to remember the primary keywords for your application name or title, comparable to how you’d make a title label while improving a site page.

You could begin with your application name so it tends to be plainly recognized, thus it appears on the home screen of gadgets.

Then, at that point, you can add a scramble or vertical bar prior to adding a few pertinent watchwords to your speciality, or even put your application name in quotes as we did with FORE Business Golf Networking.

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Urge Users to Leave Reviews 

You could ask for reviews by clients through the means of your site, or through an in-application notice toward the finish of their meeting, yet make sure to restrict the number of pop-ups you execute with the goal that you don’t disturb or disappoint your clients, as this could urge them to erase your application.

We’d support all application engineers and entrepreneurs to react to criticism on their applications, as this can further develop client relations and resolve issues in an open arena.

Zero in on Your Application Depiction 

Your application depiction is your principle assemblage of text your landing page content, in a manner of speaking. Utilize a site like KeywordTool.io to discover information on your picked catchphrases to expand your openness. As portrayals are shortened, ensure you remember the main data for the initial three lines of your depiction, and afterwards add things like social confirmation, emoticon, and suggestions to take action to build commitment and downloads.

Incorporate Appealings Screen Captures 

Pictures and recordings won’t help your application rank, yet they will expand changes and assist clients with working out whether it’s an application they truly need.

There’s a little guide in empowering clients toward downloading your application if in any case, they’re not going to interface with it, or download and leave a negative survey when they understand it wasn’t what was promoted.

Assuming you need to ‘tart up’ your item page, then, at that point, you can add marking and extra text and data and designs to your recordings and screen capture, yet they ought not to diminish your item.

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Pay for App Store or Play Store 

As we have SEO and pay-per-click, you need to work one next to the other (one is a gradual methodology with long haul benefits – the other is a speedy success yet requires an endless spending plan), application store promotions can be utilized to get the message out with regards to your new programming and assist you with positioning at the highest point of query items pages – in front of your opposition and enormous names in the application world.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to focus on the right crowd and art an advertisement that will assist you with changing over and that since you’re paying for situations, that doesn’t mean clients will download or cooperate with your application.

Wrapping Up!

You can employ a group of  App  Store Optimization Services suppliers to benefit a scope of application store improvement administrations, including watchword advancement, resource enhancement, and restriction to guarantee your application is seen by individuals that matter.

We have long periods of involvement in creating and showcasing applications and have assisted different customers with expanding their downloads by infiltrating rewarding and regularly undiscovered business sectors.

Author:
Prachi Gupta likes to write information about Digital Marketing Trends that can help audience to grow their business.

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WhatsApp will finally let users encrypt their chat backups in the cloud

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WhatsApp said on Friday it will give its two billion users the option to encrypt their chat backups to the cloud, taking a significant step to put a lid on one of the tricky ways private communication between individuals on the app can be compromised.

The Facebook-owned service has end-to-end encrypted chats between users for more than a decade. But users have had no option but to store their chat backup to their cloud — iCloud on iPhones and Google Drive on Android — in an unencrypted format.

Tapping these unencrypted WhatsApp chat backups on Google and Apple servers is one of the widely known ways law enforcement agencies across the globe have for years been able to access WhatsApp chats of suspect individuals.

Now WhatsApp says it is patching this weak link in the system.

“WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and getting there was a really hard technical challenge that required an entirely new framework for key storage and cloud storage across operating systems,” said Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in a post announcing the new feature.

Store your own encryption keys

The company said it has devised a system to enable WhatsApp users on Android and iOS to lock their chat backups with encryption keys. WhatsApp says it will offer users two ways to encrypt their cloud backups, and the feature is optional.

In the “coming weeks,” users on WhatsApp will see an option to generate a 64-digit encryption key to lock their chat backups in the cloud. Users can store the encryption key offline or in a password manager of their choice, or they can create a password that backs up their encryption key in a cloud-based “backup key vault” that WhatsApp has developed. The cloud-stored encryption key can’t be used without the user’s password, which isn’t known by WhatsApp.

Image Credits: WhatsApp/supplied

“We know that some will prefer the 64-digit encryption key whereas others want something they can easily remember, so we will be including both options. Once a user sets their backup password, it is not known to us. They can reset it on their original device if they forget it,” WhatsApp said.

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“For the 64-digit key, we will notify users multiple times when they sign up for end-to-end encrypted backups that if they lose their 64-digit key, we will not be able to restore their backup and that they should write it down. Before the setup is complete, we’ll ask users to affirm that they’ve saved their password or 64-digit encryption key.”

A WhatsApp spokesperson told TechCrunch that once an encrypted backup is created, previous copies of the backup will be deleted. “This will happen automatically and there is no action that a user will need to take,” the spokesperson added.

Potential regulatory pushback?

The move to introduce this added layer of privacy is significant and one that could have far-reaching implications.

End-to-end encryption remains a thorny topic of discussion as governments continue to lobby for backdoors. Apple was reportedly pressured to not add encryption to iCloud Backups after the FBI complained, and while Google has offered users the ability to encrypt their data stored in Google Drive, the company allegedly didn’t tell governments before it rolled out the feature.

When asked by TechCrunch whether WhatsApp, or its parent firm Facebook, had consulted with government bodies — or if it had received their support — during the development process of this feature, the company declined to discuss any such conversations.

“People’s messages are deeply personal and as we live more of our lives online, we believe companies should enhance the security they provide their users. By releasing this feature, we are providing our users with the option to add this additional layer of security for their backups if they’d like to, and we’re excited to give our users a meaningful advancement in the safety of their personal messages,” the company told TechCrunch.

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WhatsApp also confirmed that it will be rolling out this optional feature in every market where its app is operational. It’s not uncommon for companies to withhold privacy features for legal and regulatory reasons. Apple’s upcoming encrypted browsing feature, for instance, won’t be made available to users in certain authoritarian regimes, such as China, Belarus, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uganda and the Philippines.

At any rate, Friday’s announcement comes days after ProPublica reported that private end-to-end encrypted conversations between two users can be read by human contractors when messages are reported by users.

“Making backups fully encrypted is really hard and it’s particularly hard to make it reliable and simple enough for people to use. No other messaging service at this scale has done this and provided this level of security for people’s messages,” Uzma Barlaskar, product lead for privacy at WhatsApp, told TechCrunch.

“We’ve been working on this problem for many years, and to build this, we had to develop an entirely new framework for key storage and cloud storage that can be used across the world’s largest operating systems and that took time.”

TechCrunch

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Dispo launches a test to gauge user interest in selling their photos as NFTs

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Dispo, the photo-sharing app that emulates disposable cameras, started rolling out a test yesterday that will record user interest in selling photos as NFTs. Some users will now see a sell button on their photos, and when they tap it, they can sign up to be notified when the ability to sell Dispo photos launches.

CEO and co-founder Daniel Liss told TechCrunch that Dispo is still deciding how it will incorporate NFT sales into the app, which is why the platform is piloting a test with its users. Dispo doesn’t know yet what blockchain it would use, if it would partner with an NFT marketplace or what cut of sales Dispo would take.

“I think it’s safe to say from the test that there will be an experience native to the Dispo app,” Liss said. “There are a number of ways it could look — there could be a native experience within Dispo that then connects through an API to another platform, and in turn, they’re our partner, but to the community, it would look native to the Dispo app.”

Image Credits: Dispo

This marks a new direction for the social media app, which seeks to redefine the photo-sharing experience by only letting users see the photos they took at 9 AM the next morning. From Dispo’s perspective, this gimmick helps users share more authentically, since you take one photo and then you’re done — the app isn’t conducive to taking dozens of selfies and posting the “best” image of yourself. But though it only launched in December 2019, Dispo has already faced both buzzy hype and devastating controversy.

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Until about a year ago, the app was called David’s Disposables, named after co-founder and YouTuber David Dobrik. The app was downloaded over a million times in the first week after its release and hit No. 1 on the App Store charts. In March 2021, the app dropped its waitlist and relaunched with social network features, but just weeks later, Insider reported sexual assault allegations against a member of Vlog Squad, Dobrik’s YouTube prank ensemble. In response, Spark Capital severed ties with the company, leading to Dobrik’s departure. Other investors like Seven Seven Six and Unshackled Ventures, which contributed to the company’s $20 million Series A round, announced that they would donate any profits from their investments in Dispo to organizations working with survivors of sexual assault.

Liss told TechCrunch in June, when the company confirmed its Series A, that Dobrik’s role with the company was as a marketing partner — Liss has been CEO since the beginning. In light of the controversy, Liss said the app focused on improving the product itself and took a step back from promotion.

According to data from the app analytics firm SensorTower, Dispo has reached an estimated 4.7 million global installs to date since launch. Though the app saw the most downloads in January 2020, when it was installed over 1 million times, the app’s next best month came in March 2021, when it removed its waitlist — that month, about 616,000 people downloaded Dispo. Between March and the end of August, the app was downloaded around 1.4 million times, which is up 118% year over year compared to the same time frame in 2020 — but it should be expected that this year’s numbers would be higher, since last year, the app’s membership was exclusive.

Image Credits: Dispo

Now, with the announcement that Dispo is pursuing NFTs, Liss hopes that his company won’t just change how people post photos, but what the relationship will be between platforms and the content that users create.

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“Why NFTs? The most powerful memories of our lives have value. And they have economic value, because we created them, and the past of social media fails to recognize that,” Liss told TechCrunch. “As a result, the only way that a creator with a big following is compensated is by selling directly to a brand, as opposed to profiting from the content itself.”

Adding NFT sales to the app offers Dispo a way to profit from a cut of user sales, but it stands to question how adding NFT sales could impact the community-focused feel of Dispo.

“I think there is tremendous curiosity and interest,” Liss said. “But these problems and questions are why we need more data.”

TechCrunch

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